Fifth Senior Officials Meeting

Location: Bali, IndonesiaDate: 01 April 2013
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The Co-Chairs of the Bali Process on People Smuggling, Trafficking in Persons and related Transnational Crime (Bali Process) hosted the fifth Senior Officials Meeting in Bali on 1 April 2013.

The meeting welcomed advice from the Co-Chairs that, as directed by Ministers at the Fourth Ministerial Conference in March 2011, the AHG had been expanded, on the recommendation of the Bali Process Steering Group, to include existing Bali Process members Vietnam and the Philippines and new members (past observers) the United States and United Arab Emirates. Co-Chairs also sought the endorsement of the meeting for a Steering Group decision to support the UNODC’s application to become a member of the Bali Process. Participants welcomed the membership of the
United States of America, the United Arab Emirates and UNODC to the Bali Process and looked forward to their strengthened engagement.

The Co-Chairs recalled the outcomes from the Senior Officials Meeting in Bali on 10 March 2011 and the Co-Chairs’ Statement from the Fourth Ministerial Conference. The Fourth Ministerial Conference had agreed to focus on ways to harmonise processes for dealing with the irregular movement of people in the region under a Regional Cooperation Framework (RCF) and had tasked the AHG to operationalise the RCF. Ministers had also tasked the AHG to enhance cooperation on trafficking in
persons issues.

Participants noted irregular migration and the risk it poses to the loss of life at sea continued to be a concern for many members. In particular, 2012 had seen unprecedented irregular migration flows
by sea in the Asia Pacific as reported by the UNHCR. It was critical for Bali Process work to continue to focus on strengthening law enforcement cooperation and immigration management capacity, while at the same time ensuring the humanitarian and protection needs of vulnerable people are respected. Members were encouraged to continue to strengthen their domestic legal frameworks, including by criminalising people smuggling and trafficking in persons.

The meeting welcomed the operationalization of the RCF through the establishment of the Regional Support Office (RSO) in Bangkok. The Indonesian and Australian RSO co-managers provided the meeting with an overview of operations and an outline of projects underway. The meeting welcomed the RSO as a significant achievement for enhancing regional cooperation and capacity building in addressing irregular migration, including people smuggling and trafficking in persons. The CoChairs encouraged members to maximise the potential benefits of the RSO through their participation.

Way forwards

The meeting endorsed the AHG recommendation to establish cooperation between the Bali Process RSO and the Jakarta Centre for Law Enforcement Cooperation (JCLEC). Participants welcomed the potential benefits of a partnership with JCLEC, outlined in a concept paper developed by Indonesia and Australia in consultation with JCLEC and the RSO.

The meeting endorsed the AHG recommendation to establish a working group on trafficking in persons. Participants welcomed an overview by Indonesia which outlined the potential benefits of a working group including as a coordination mechanism to better focus Bali Process activities to address members’ capacity needs and to assist inform Bali Process responses to trafficking in persons issues. Members agreed that the working group would be established under the purview of the AHG but would be open to all interested Bali Process members, and would engage with civil society, non government organizations and the business community in undertaking its work.

The meeting endorsed the AHG recommendation to develop regional policy guides on criminalising people smuggling and trafficking in persons targeted at policy makers and practitioners. In particular, participants welcomed a concept paper developed by Thailand and Australia outlining the potential benefits of the policy guides which could be used by countries across a range of domestic agencies to promote a consistent understanding of legal obligations under the UNTOC and its Protocols on Smuggling of Migrants and Trafficking in Persons, and to assist countries in developing effective legislation.

The meeting welcomed a report from UNHCR and Indonesia on outcomes and proposals emanating from the Regional Roundtable on Irregular Movements by Sea held in Jakarta under the purview of the RSO from 18-20 March 2013. Members recommended the outcomes be presented to Ministers for consideration and that affected States further explore ways in which cooperation in managing irregular maritime movements could be strengthened in practical ways, including through the development of a protection-sensitive regional approach.