Australian Embassy
The Philippines

SP101027 Launch of ASEAN Trafficking in Persons Handbook on International Cooperation

Launch of the ASEAN Trafficking in Persons Handbook on International Cooperation
Remarks by Ambassador Rod Smith
27 October 2010

Honourable Rico Puno, Undersecretary for Peace and Order, Department of Interior and Local Government

His Excellency Bagas Hapsoro, ASEAN Deputy Secretary-General

Distinguished delegates to the Senior Officials Meeting on Transnational Crime

Representatives from the Philippine Government

Colleagues from the Diplomatic Corps

Ladies and Gentlemen:

Good evening. Magandang gabi sa inyong lahat.

On behalf of the Australian Government, I am pleased to speak at the launch of the ‘ASEAN Trafficking in Persons Handbook on International Cooperation’.

This is a groundbreaking achievement. For the first time, ASEAN countries have come together to develop a practical guide that will improve how people trafficking cases are investigated and prosecuted in the region.

Let me at the outset acknowledge all those who have supported the development of this manual including the ASEAN Secretariat, the European Union, the United Nations Office of Drugs and Crime and the Australian Government’s Asia Regional Trafficking in Persons Project.

In particular, I would like to acknowledge the Senior Officials Meeting on Transnational Crime for initiating the Handbook and supporting its development. Through your leadership, this handbook has become a world first, demonstrating a practical results-driven approach to tackling this insidious crime.

For those involved in fighting people trafficking in Southeast Asia, this Handbook will become the go-to resource for international cooperation.

It provides in a clear, straightforward manner, a detailed outline of what is required of law enforcement agencies when it comes to investigating and prosecuting these crimes.

The Handbook highlights the types of cooperation that criminal justice professionals should undertake when investigating and prosecuting a case.

It underlines the importance of inter-agency cooperation where investigators, prosecutors and central authority lawyers pursue common objectives.

The guidance set out is consistent with bilateral agreements struck between ASEAN member states, and with multilateral treaties such as the UN Trafficking Protocol.

And the Handbook also explains non-treaty level forms of cooperation, including cooperation rooted in domestic law, the principle of reciprocity, and judicial assistance.

Working hand-in-hand, both treaty and non-treaty forms of cooperation weave stronger relationships between countries leading to greater trust and more effective interaction. When this happens more people traffickers are convicted, sentenced and punished.

As many of you will know, people trafficking is the third largest illegal global trade after drugs and arms sales. Too many people have been exploited. Too many of them represent the most vulnerable in our communities. So clearly, victims must be at the centre of our regional and global response.

The Handbook highlights the need to recover the proceeds of this crime and use these to assist victim services.

This represents an important step in integrating a human rights approach to the investigation and prosecution of people traffickers. It also mirrors the spirit of most international treaties and protocols.

No-one should underestimate the difficulty of successfully investigating and prosecuting people traffickers. The core to combating this crime is closer international cooperation. This Handbook is a valuable instrument to ensuring a collective approach to fighting trafficking in persons.

I am proud that the Australian Government has been able to support this valuable addition to the region’s tool kit to stop people traffickers and give justice to their victims.

Thank you.