World Border Security News2018-08-31 08:09:47
Border security across ASEAN region focus of INTERPOL programme
With a growing population of over 600 million, and economic growth across the ASEAN region placing increasing challenges on travel and security, regional human mobility was the focus of a meeting held within the framework of the European Union’s (EU) collaboration with ASEAN on migration and border management.
Implemented across Southeast Asia by INTERPOL, the EU-ASEAN Migration and Border Management Programme II seeks to improve regional border security by tackling transnational crimes such as people smuggling and human trafficking.
Representatives from ASEAN Member States, law enforcement, industry, academia, the EU, the Habibie Center in Jakarta, and INTERPOL reviewed at the meeting a feasibility study on an ASEAN common visa and practical recommendations on mobility and border security.
The study is the product of a year-long research undertaken by the Habibie Center to support ASEAN in its integration process through the implementation of the region’s Master Plan on ASEAN Connectivity.
Ibrahim Almuttaqi, Head of the ASEAN Studies Programme at the Habibie Center said: “An ASEAN common visa can serve as a stepping stone to promote greater trust, cooperation, and coordination amongst border management agencies across the region. Whilst recognizing the challenges that exist in implementing an ASEAN common visa, we still feel that many benefits can be derived and that emphasis should be on the opportunities rather than the obstacles.”
Launched in Jakarta in October 2015, the three-year EU-funded programme has worked to strengthen law enforcement networks and cooperation at regional transit hubs in ASEAN countries.
"The European Union has been implementing a single visa policy under the Schengen Agreement for the last twenty years. As Europeans we have enjoyed the benefits of a common visa policy. The comprehensive feasibility study "Towards an ASEAN Common Visa" conducted by the Habibie Centre under the auspices of the second EU-ASEAN Migration and Border Management Programme provides valuable analysis and credible options for policy-makers to consider. We hope that ASEAN can continue exploring possibilities for creating its own initiative in this field," said Francisco Fontan, Ambassador of the European Union to ASEAN.
Harold O’Connell, INTERPOL Director of Capacity Building and Training, said: “The EU-ASEAN programme on migration and border management has allowed us to combine resources across the region and fully exploit INTERPOL’s global policing and training capabilities to help law enforcement agencies work seamlessly across the region to prevent criminals from crossing borders.”
"Through our regional hub at the INTERPOL Global Complex for Innovation in Singapore, we are well placed to continue to support ASEAN in its integration process,” added Mr O’Connell.
Since its launch the programme has helped increase the skills and knowledge of law enforcement agencies dealing with border management in the ASEAN community, with activities including:
the technical and operational expansion of INTERPOL’s I-24/7 secure global police communications system to 26 main travel transit hubs in ASEAN, training on specialized areas such as the use of INTERPOL’s integrated policing capabilities, international law enforcement communication and mutual assistance, in areas such as people smuggling and human trafficking, and train-the-trainer sessions to ensure skills and knowledge are shared internally within law enforcement agencies.
Six border screening operations have also been coordinated by INTERPOL in Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Myanmar, Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam to prevent the movement of criminals and terror suspects across Southeast Asia through enhanced collaboration between immigration and police agencies.
In addition to Red Lotus operations (2016, 2017 and 2018), INTERPOL Major Events Support Teams have been deployed to the 2015 APEC summit in Manila, as well as to the ASEAN summits in Laos in 2016 and Manila in 2017.
These operational activities have seen a total of 89.25 million searches carried out against INTERPOL’s global databases, with over 1,000 potential threats identified.
The 10 ASEAN member states are Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.
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