Between 13 and 14 February 2020, Australia and Sri Lanka co-chaired the third meeting of the Technical Experts Group on Returns and Reintegration (TEG-RR) of the Bali Process on People Smuggling, Trafficking in Persons and Related Transnational Crime (Bali Process) in Colombo, Sri Lanka.
In attendance were representatives from Afghanistan, Australia, Bangladesh, Cambodia, France, Indonesia, Maldives, Malaysia, Myanmar, Nauru, Pakistan, Papua New Guinea, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Turkey, the United Arab Emirates and Viet Nam, organizational member participants from the International Organization for Migration (IOM), the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), United Nations Office of Drugs and Crimes (UNODC), International Labour Organization(ILO) and the Regional Support Office of the Bali Process (RSO). Canada, the United Kingdom (UK), and the International Centre for Migration Policy Development (ICMPD) attended as observers. New Zealand and the Philippines could not attend.
Participants presented updates and discussed issues pertaining to the topic of returns and reintegration including:
- The RSO and the drafting committee received approval by the Ad Hoc Group Senior Officials’ meeting on the Bali Process Policy Guide on Returns and R
- Participants updated on their returns and reintegration priorities and shared overviews of their policy framework, challenges faced, and good practices relating to return and reintegration. Key elements agreed on include the importance of developing a national policy framework and action plan for returnees, assigning roles and responsibilities for sending and receiving countries and ultimately working towards developing Memorandums of Understanding (MOUs). Participants also agreed on the crucial role technology plays in assisting consular services and providing information to migrants abroad. Agreement was also achived on developing standard operating procedures (SOPs) for return and reintegration which align with national priorities and state cooperation on travel documents to facilitate returns. Having robust monitoring and evaluation (M&E) mechanisms and understanding the needs, priorities and catering to these for vulnerable cohorts of returnees including victims of trafficking, women and children were also recognised as priorities for participants.
- IOM updated on its Assisted Voluntary Returns and Reintegration (AVRR) programmes and discussed the benefits and challenges faced in their successful reintegration.
- UNHCR updated on their work, including procedures and aspects that need to be considered for smooth returns to occur, including identity documentation, access to livelihood and training of returnees.
Participants agreed on the following:
- The RSO was advised to undertake additional capacity building initiatives for relevant officials of Member States on the topic of returns and reintegration in line with the Policy Guide.
- To reconvene in early 2021.