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UNODC migrant smuggling training prepares police for ASEAN 2015's open borders

Bangkok (Thailand), 3 December 2012 - The formation of the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) - scheduled for 2015 - is fast approaching. The realization of such a community, and the increased connectivity involved, will provide a wealth of economic opportunities for the 10 ASEAN member countries of Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Lao PDR, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Viet Nam.

However, it will also present a number of challenges for local and international law enforcement officials - including the threat of increased migrant smuggling and human trafficking activities by organized criminal groups - as the ASEAN region prepares for a sharp rise in border crossings by people and goods.

That prospect has law enforcement concerned - and ready to prepare.

"We are now very close to becoming an ASEAN community and we will certainly have to face a lot of the changes and challenges that come with these intimate ties and connectivity," said Police General Watcharapol Prasarnrajkit, Deputy Commissioner General of the Royal Thai Police, recently.

Pol. Gen. Prasarnrajkit made his comments to Southeast Asia and Pacific law enforcement officials attending a UNODC-organized advanced training course on migrant smuggling and related money laundering and financial investigations. Held late November at the International Law Enforcement Academy (ILEA) in Bangkok, the training course is part of the UNODC Regional Training Programme on Operational and Strategic Analysis on Migrant Smuggling.

The ILEA course was sparked by the success of two UNODC programmes developed to help local authorities better respond to migrant smuggling challenges: the Development of Multi-agency Port Intelligence Units in South-East Asia (PIU) and the Smuggling of Migrants Coordination and Analysis Unit (CAU).

The PIU programme, funded by the Canadian government, will create port intelligence units (PIUs) in Cambodia, Indonesia and Thailand port areas. Strategically situated for more effective response, the PIUs will gather migrant smuggling intelligence from beyond their immediate locations and share it with local and international operational law enforcement.

The CAU programme is funded by the Australian government and operates in Cambodia, Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand. CAU aims to create a regional migrant smuggling database that local and international authorities can use to identify migrant smuggling activities and, once identified, more effectively act against them with targeted operational responses.

Participants to the ILEA course came from Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand.

A team of internationally recognized and renowned trainers taught participants how to strengthen law enforcement capabilities in carrying out operational analysis of migrant smuggling investigations, identify migrant smuggling trends, analyze threats and provide input to policy development.

Trainers came from the Australian Federal Police (AFP), the Philippines' Department of Justice, Pakistan's Federal Investigation Agency, Sri Lanka's Anti-Human Smuggling Investigation Bureau, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP), the Royal Thai Police, the US ICE Homeland Security Investigations, and UNODC, among others.

One of the most significant aspects of this training programme was the cooperation demonstrated between so many nations. Speakers provided their services free of charge, and the course was jointly funded by the governments of Australia and Canada.

"This joint training between countries is necessary to update knowledge and investigating techniques, and create a law enforcement network helpful for future cooperation," said Police General Watcharapol Prasarnrajkit, one of the ILEA speakers.

His colleague, Mr. John Tanti (AFP), said: "We are very eager to be your partners and your friends in the fight against migrant smuggling."

Along with the PIU and CAU programmes that sparked the ILEA training course, the Voluntary Reporting System on Migration Smuggling and Related Conduct (VRS-MSRC) is another UNODC initiative to combat the smuggling of migrants.



VRS-MSRC is an internet-based, secure IT solution that facilities the collection, sharing and use of analytical data. The purpose of the VRS-MSRC is to strengthen strategic analysis of migrant smuggling to inform policy development and inter-regional, regional and national levels. For more information on VRS-MSRC, visit here.

Background:
The UNODC-organized advanced training course on migrant smuggling and related money laundering and financial was sparked by the success of two UNODC programmes developed to help local authorities better respond to migrant smuggling challenges: the Development of Multi-agency Port Intelligence Units in South-East Asia (PIU), funded by the Government of Canada, and the Smuggling of Migrants Coordination and Analysis Unit (CAU), funded by the Government of Australia.