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Myanmar to set up Border Liaison Offices (BLOs) to counter migrant smuggling and environmental crimes

Nay Pyi Taw (Myanmar), 1 March 2013
- Myanmar law enforcement representatives agreed to establish new Border Liaison Offices (BLO) in 2013 in selected hot-spots to counter the smuggling of migrants and some environmental crimes. Officers stationed in BLO areas will receive training in anti-smuggling equipment and responses to improve the effectiveness of their work.

The decision by 22 representatives from various Myanmar law enforcement agencies came at the first national workshop of the Partnership Against Transnational Crime through Regional Organized Law Enforcement (PATROL). Held 21 February in Nay Pyi Taw, the capital, shortly after the recent endorsement of the PATROL project, the workshop was co-organized by the Myanmar Police Force and the UNODC Regional Office for Southeast Asia and the Pacific.

At the workshop, local authorities discussed ways to counter trafficking activity along the borders of Myanmar. According to a 2011 PATROL survey of local law enforcement, Myanmar faces intense trafficking activities and is perceived by local officers to be a source country of illegal flows of drugs, people and natural resources.

To strengthen Myanmar's capacity to interdict and prosecute the criminal networks responsible for these illicit activities, the Myanmar Police Force became the fourth signatory of PATROL after Cambodia, Viet Nam and Thailand. Lao PDR has also recently joined the project, as the fifth signatory.

"Our Government is determined to fight transnational organized crime to promote development, growth and peace," said Pol. Brig. Gen. Zaw Win, Deputy Chief of Police Myanmar. "This partnership with PATROL and UNODC comes at a very good time."

To monitor project progress and evaluate each BLO's performance, the Police Force will help establish a Myanmar PATROL Advisory Committee (M-PAC) made up of all relevant law enforcement agencies.

"This workshop made impressive progress," said a member of the UNODC team. "Participants collaborated closely and took a very operational approach to illicit trafficking matters. UNODC plans to facilitate soon a bilateral meeting between the Steering Committees of Myanmar and Thailand, to define the modalities of cooperation among BLOs along the border between these two countries." In fact, at the recent National Steering Committee meeting Thailand expressed keen interest to work with Myanmar on border security and suggested three hot-spots where law enforcement cooperation should be intensified.

This activity was supported by the Australia Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC).

Established in 2010 to improve border security at land borders in the Greater Mekong Sub-region (GMS), PATROL is a joint initiative of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) Regional Office for Southeast Asia and the Pacific, the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), FREELAND Foundation and TRAFFIC in partnership with the GMS governments of Cambodia, China, Lao PDR, Myanmar, Thailand and Viet Nam.

This project is supported mainly by the Australia Department of Immigration and Citizenship. Other supporters - in alphabetical order - are the CITES Secretariat, UNEP and the United States of America. For more information on PATROL Project, please click here.