Strengthening law enforcement to counter migrant smuggling in Lao PDR and Malaysia

Kuala Lumpur (Malaysia), 17 December 2013 - In Southeast Asia, UNODC assists law enforcement actors to prevent and combat migrant smuggling. A key component of this work is to support law enforcement to enhance their capacities to carry out operational and strategic analysis of migrant to support investigations and inform counter-migrant smuggling policies.

Within Southeast Asia, economic disparities are a main driver for irregular migration. This is largely facilitated by migrant smugglers who also use Southeast Asia as a transit region to smuggle migrants to other destinations, such as Australia. When smuggling by sea, the smugglers expose the migrants to extreme risks. Deadly incidents are common. The smugglers also contribute to making migrants vulnerable to abuse, exploitation and human trafficking.

Responding to the multi-facetted challenge of migrant smuggling requires knowing the threat better. It also requires shifting the focus from reactive to proactive intelligence-led law enforcement approaches that aim to dismantle the smuggling networks and bring perpetrators to justice.

Sebastian Baumeister, UNODC Project Coordinator points out: "Investing in building up pro-active, intelligence-led investigative capacities is a cost-efficient way to complement border controls. The focus needs to be on the perpetrators and smuggling operations need to be disrupted at the earliest stage possible."

Pursuing these objectives, UNODC launched in 2011 a Training Programme on Operational and Strategic Analysis on Migrant Smuggling across Southeast Asia, at both regional and national levels. The programme consists of two main components: a 10-day training course on operational analysis in support of investigations and a 5-day training course on strategic analysis. So far, UNODC delivered these courses in Cambodia, Indonesia, Lao PDR, Malaysia, Thailand and Viet Nam, training more than 300 law enforcement and immigration officers.

In line with its new Regional Programme for Southeast Asia 2014 - 2017, UNODC will continue to support the capacity of law enforcement agencies in the region to effectively prevent and combat the smuggling of migrants by:

  1. strengthening policy and legislative frameworks;
  2. enhancing capabilities in investigation and prosecution;
  3. increasing availability of evidence-based information on the nature and scale of migrant smuggling in the region; and
  4. enhancing cooperation on a bilateral, regional and international level.