Australian Foreign Minister Bob Carr arrived in Bali on Monday aiming to strengthen the regional cooperation framework that will put an end to human trafficking, the crucial issue to be discussed on Tuesday’s Bali Process 5th Regional Ministerial Conference in Nusa Dua.
Upon his arrival in Bali, Carr directly made a brief visit to the Bali Bombing memorial (Ground Zero monument) in Legian, Badung regency.
Initiated in 2002, the Bali process on people smuggling, trafficking in persons and related crime has seriously dealt with raising regional awareness of the consequences of people smuggling, and related transnational crime. Over 40 countries, including Indonesia, Australia, Malaysia, Afghanistan and Iran, as well as numerous international agencies, have joined the voluntary forum.
“We are going to work toward more regional cooperation on the whole agenda of people smuggling and human movement. That’s our focus. There are tens of millions of people in the world who are adrift, homeless and looking for somewhere to go. We need regional cooperation to see them treated more humanely, that the borders are respected and that you have orderly handling of the movement of people,” said Carr, who with Indonesian Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa will cochair the conference on Tuesday.
The web resource for combating human trafficking, www.humantrafficking.org, states Australia itself has been a destination country for trafficked people from Eastern Europe, East Asia and Southeast Asia, including China, South Korea and Thailand.
“Strengthening law enforcement cooperation, that’s a tangible goal that we are working toward. We have seen progress and we want further progress. We want to improve cooperation on human trafficking. To seek the development of policy guidelines that would help countries criminalize human trafficking. That is necessary to overcome the wretchedness of slavery, [and] the enslavement of people on their transference across and through borders,” Carr said, highlighting Australia’s specific goals.
“We need a range of actions to stop the boats, we need action in countries that are generating this flow of people, Afghanistan and Iran have got large refugee numbers, people being recruited by people smugglers from those jurisdictions. You need law enforcement action directed at the people smugglers,” said Carr.
Over the years, the Australian government has increased its efforts to prosecute traffickers. Since 2004, the Australian Federal Police has investigated 112 cases and charged 22 people with people trafficking. In 2007, Australia provided a five-year A$21 million (US$21.86 million) regional initiative through Indonesia’s criminal justice system to enhance prevention efforts in human trafficking in the region.
Reportedly, more than 800,000 people are victims of trafficking every year in the region. The Australian initiative is part of the Asia Regional Trafficking in Persons (ARTIP) launched in August 2006 initially as a partnership with Thailand, Cambodia, Laos and Myanmar.
On Tuesday night, Carr is expected to leave Bali for Jakarta for further meetings with Marty and Defense Minister Purnomo Yusgiantoro at the foreign and defense ministers’ meeting.