Remarks by Ambassador Bill Tweddell
Signing of Memorandum of Subsidiary Agreement - AAPTIP Philippines
3 July 2014
Undersecretary Jose Vicente Salazar, Ian Porter, Managing Director of Cardno and President of ANZCHAM
Distinguished guests, partners and colleagues in the fight against Trafficking In Persons
On behalf of the Australian Government, I am extremely pleased to welcome you here today to finalise this arrangement between the Governments of Australia and the Philippines to commence the Australia Asia Program to Combat Trafficking In Persons, known as AAPTIP.
The Government of Australia views trafficking in persons as a grievous breach of human rights and as a crime that stifles development.
We are for this reason very proud to be partnering with the Philippines in working to combat human trafficking in our region.
And we should be in no doubt as to the scale of the problem we face in the region. After drugs and illegal arms sales, human trafficking is the biggest criminal industry in the world and, according to the UN Office on Drugs and Crime, over half of all victims of trafficking are estimated to come from the Asia-Pacific region.
Australia is now the largest national anti-trafficking donor in the region, demonstrating our commitment to leadership in the sector.
Australia undertakes a wide range of collaborations with partners to fight trafficking:
- from the work of the Australian Federal Police on transnational crime operations;
- to our support for the Bali Process on People Smuggling, Trafficking in Persons and Related Transnational Crime; and
- through to our extensive suite of regional anti-trafficking programs, including ILO Triangle and AAPTIP.
Australia is committed to supporting practical measures to combat trafficking in the region, and are very pleased to renew our collaboration with the Government of the Philippines through the AAPTIP program.
AAPTIP is a five-year program that aims to reduce the incentives and opportunities for human trafficking in the Philippines and ASEAN more broadly.
The program is a significant A$50 million investment across the region, doubling the amount spent on supporting AAPTIP’s precursor programs.
It builds on ten years of Australian regional experience in supporting anti-trafficking efforts, including Australia’s Asia Regional Trafficking in Persons (ARTIP) program, a program through which we collaborated with the Government of the Philippines on innovative responses to investigating, prosecuting and adjudicating trafficking crimes.
Australia appreciates the tremendous support that the Philippines has given to our regional anti-trafficking efforts in the past, and we hope that our partnership can be deepened as AAPTIP progresses.
The Government of the Philippines continues to provide strong leadership in the fight against trafficking, both at home and abroad.
One example is last year’s revisions to the anti-trafficking law here in the Philippines, allowing for the prosecution of a broader range of trafficking offenses, which was a tremendous signal of the shared commitment of leaders in the Philippines to meaningful criminal justice responses to trafficking.
It is right therefore that Australia’s program is designed to support this focus and the agenda of the Philippine Government.
I would also like to highlight the work of the Inter-Agency Council Against Trafficking (IACAT), led by Justice Secretary Leila de Lima and the Department of Justice, which brings together the various agencies of government with anti-trafficking responsibilities.
IACAT provides both coordination and a valuable sense of mission to the Government’s anti-trafficking work.
In the region more broadly, I want to draw your attention to one particularly important feature of AAPTIP:
We are here today to begin the program formally in the Philippines; however the AAPTIP is a truly regional program, operating in seven countries and working with all the members of ASEAN to reduce the incentives and opportunities for human trafficking in the region.
2014 marks the 40th anniversary of Australia's dialogue partnership with ASEAN, and now more than ever, we are determined to work with ASEAN to enhance regional cooperation.
I would like to acknowledge here the tremendous work done by the Government of the Philippines as the Lead Shepherd of the ASEAN Senior Officials Meeting on Transnational Crime (SOMTC) Working Group on TIP.
The Australian Government believes the Philippines’ role is crucial in driving meaningful change in the region, particularly in relation to the development of an ASEAN Convention on Trafficking In Persons.
Australia aims to support the Philippines’ ongoing leadership on this issue.
The signing of today’s arrangement allows Australia and the Philippines to work toward new, innovative collaborations.
I look forward to watching the fruit of these efforts make a meaningful impact on the scourge of human trafficking together.