"We need a comprehensive response to migrant smuggling. Law enforcement measures alone cannot solve the problem," said Gary Lewis, Regional Representative of UNODC for East Asia and the Pacific, at the opening of a three-day expert group meeting held in Bangkok from 27 to 29 September.
The aim of the meeting was for the expert working group to discuss the elaboration of an in-depth training manual on investigating migrant smuggling and prosecuting offenders of that crime.
The finalized manual will make it easier to transfer expertise and best practices, and thereby strengthen the capacity of law enforcement authorities all over the world to deal with this issue.
"There are important push and pull factors that influence a person to become a smuggled migrant. All of them must be addressed," continued Mr. Lewis. Mr. Lewis described migrant smuggling as a high-profit but low-risk crime that often exposes migrants to serious health risks. Sometimes, those risks are so serious they end in death.
Referring to the Bangkok Statement, in which States are called upon to enact legislation to tackle impunity for crimes related to migrant smuggling and human trafficking, Mr. Lewis welcomed the criminal justice practitioners present, underlining their crucial role in bringing about these necessary changes.
Mr. Lewis exhorted the criminal justice practitioners present to take action, reminding them that: "You are the people who can make this happen. You can do this in your daily work and by supporting us in expanding and working on this in-depth training manual for investigating and prosecuting perpetrators of migrant smuggling."
The Bangkok meeting brought together investigators, prosecutors and immigration officers from Australia, Cambodia, France, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Thailand, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, the United States of America and Viet Nam.