Australia and the Philippines continue the fight against trafficking in persons
03 July 2014
Australia today finalised a formal arrangement with the Government of the Philippines to commence the Australia Asia Program to Combat Trafficking In Persons, known as AAPTIP, in the Philippines.
Today’s signing marks a milestone in implementing the AAPTIP, a A$50-million, five-year program that aims to reduce the incentives and opportunities for human trafficking in the Philippines and ASEAN more broadly.
Australian Ambassador to the Philippines Bill Tweddell said “The signing of this arrangement demonstrates the strength of the partnership between Australia and the Philippines in tackling the scourge of trafficking in persons. We hope that our partnership can be deepened as AAPTIP progresses.”
The signing was presided over by Department of Justice Secretary Leila De Lima, who chairs the Philippines’ Inter-Agency Council Against Trafficking (IACAT). The Philippines, through IACAT, is the Lead Shepherd of the ASEAN Senior Officials Meeting on Transnational Crime (SOMTC) Working Group on TIP.
Last year, the Philippines revised its anti-trafficking law allowing for the prosecution of a broader range of trafficking offenses.
The Ambassador lauded the Philippine Government’s efforts nationally and through regional fora to combat trafficking. “The Government of the Philippines continues to provide strong leadership in the fight against trafficking, both at home and globally. We believe the Philippines’ role is crucial in driving efforts 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.”
Australia will work closely with the Philippine Government – particularly through the IACAT – in identifying national anti-trafficking priorities that AAPTIP can support with the provision of technical assistance and training.
The Governments of Australia and the Philippines have been collaborating on human trafficking issues since 2009, with a strong focus on strengthening the criminal justice system and law enforcement.
AAPTIP builds on Australia’s ten years of regional experience in supporting anti-trafficking efforts. Australia is currently the largest national anti-trafficking donor in ASEAN.
“We are very pleased to renew our collaboration with the Government of the Philippines through the AAPTIP program, and we are committed to supporting practical measures to combat trafficking in the Philippines and in the region,” said Ambassador Tweddell.