Policy Conference in Phnom Penh / Cambodia, March 6-7, 2014
On 6-7 March 2014, a bi-regional conference on trafficking in human beings and irregular migration was organized in cooperation with the Cambodian Institute for Cooperation and Peace. The conference “Addressing Irregular Migration and Human Trafficking in Europe and Asia” was implemented in Phnom Penh / Cambodia and attended by 89 participants.
The key note speech of this event was delivered by H.E. Mrs. Chou Bun Eng, Secretary of State and Chair of The Secretariat of the National Committee to Lead the Suppression of Human Trafficking, Smuggling and Labor Exploitation and Sexual Exploitation in Women and Children, Ministry of the Interior, Cambodia. Additional high-ranking speakers included, among others, Khine Myat Chit, Senior Officer in the ASEAN Sekretariat, Hakan Erdal, Coordinator of Human Trafficking and People Smuggling at INTERPOL, Veronica Cody, Head of Unit, Horizontal Issues Asia and the Pacific in the European External Action Service and Rafendi Djamin, Indonesian Representative for ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights, as well as representatives from Ministries in Malaysia, Poland, Philippines, Taiwan, Thailand, Vietnam, UNODC and UNIAP. Additional participants came from Australia, Belgium, Cambodia, France, Germany, Greece, Indonesia, Japan, Philippines, Serbia, Singapore, and Thailand.
The participants of the conference welcomed this kind of informal exchange and agreed that the limitation of irregular migration and combat against trafficking in human beings require more international cooperation. This cooperation should be not only between states, but also between enforcement agencies, policy forces and prosecutors. Especially sharing of information and joint cross-border capacity-building programmes need to be enhanced and improved. Besides recruitment agencies, companies have to be included in the process. For example, the aspects of working conditions and exploitation could be included in corporate social responsibility strategies. With regard to the recruitment sector, it is important to be more open-minded towards their engagement. Negative stereotypes and exclusion of agencies from the process due to their profit character will hinder a comprehensive response. Further attention has to be paid to maintaining a good balance concerning the regulation of migration as overregulation and too many restrictions might results in more migrants using irregular channels. Often these people do not see themselves as victim of human trafficking or smuggling as their situation in the countries of destination is much better than before their departure. A warning example should be the tightening of asylum policies in Australia which will have a severe impact on migrants from Southeast Asia. This balance has to be accompanied by an improved protection of the victims. For instance, double victimisation through several testimonies and prosecution of victims for crimes committed under force should be prevented. A general problem for law enforcement is the structural corruption. Fighting corruption also requires a certain level of creativity. Organizing queues at immigration counters in the form of a wiggly line instead of a row line can avoid a pre-selection of a particular officer. In addition, immigration officer should be replaced and shifted regularly to prevent the formation of networks. Finally, besides the root causes for the vulnerability of victims, the demand side has to be addressed as well. As long as there is demand for prostitution, cheap labour and a lack of prosecution of companies employing irregular migrants, human trafficking and smuggling of irregular migrants will persist.
Photo: Participants of the conference during the inaugural session