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Human traffickers exploiting lack of coordination in ASEAN

by September 30, 2016 General

Better cooperation between all ASEAN member states is needed to combat transnational human trafficking as perpetrators have benefited greatly from the lack of coordination in fighting the crime in the region, the ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights (AICHR) said on Thursday.

Indonesia, the region’s largest country, and several other nations need to ratify the ASEAN convention on trafficking, said Jose Tavares, the foreign ministry’s director general for ASEAN cooperation.

Dinna Wisnu, Indonesia’s representative for the AICHR, said perpetrators exploited the weakness of the existing system in the region, which is still fragmented.

 “Not all member states have the mechanism to protect the victims as well as to conduct investigations of such crimes,” Dinna told reporters during a regional consultative forum on human trafficking.

Jose Tavares, the ministry’s director general for ASEAN cooperation, stressed the urgency for all state members to ratify the ASEAN Convention Against Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children, which was adopted in November last year.

The Indonesian government is still studying the document, Jose said.

 “We will push for the ratification […] Human trafficking is a transnational crime. It can’t be handled by a single country as the problem often comes from other countries,” Jose said. Only Singapore, Cambodia and Thailand have ratified the document, he said.

The convention covers “the prevention, investigation and prosecution” of trafficking in persons.

Some of the attendees of the two-day forum, which ends Friday, are the region’s high-ranking police officers and the ASEAN Commission on the Promotion and Protection of the Rights of Women and Children chaired by Lily Purba.

On Wednesday the Commission and other ASEAN representatives released a regional study on laws, policies and practices regarding trafficking in ASEAN, especially relating to children and women.

Prosecutors from the US and other countries announced on Tuesday from a meeting being held in Hawaii that people trafficked for sex from China, the Philippines, Taiwan, Korea and Thailand had been discovered in the US.

“Sex trafficking internationally is somewhere between a $7 billion and $23 billion business,” said Cyrus Vance Jr., district attorney for New York County.

“It’s second to international arms sales,” he said as reported by AP. (vny)