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ASEAN leaders issue declaration on combating trafficking in persons

ASEAN leaders on May 11 approved a declaration on combating trafficking in persons (TIP) caused by the abuse of technology, at the ongoing ASEAN Summit 32 in Labuan Bajo, Indonesia.

The declaration reiterates the need to promote a cohesive and immediate ASEAN response in addressing current and future threats arising from the abuse of technology and take full advantage of new and evolving technologies to enhance this effort.

The leaders agreed to strengthen cooperation and coordination against the evil through various regional mechanisms and ASEAN initiatives; using technology tools; sharing best practices and lessons learned; exchanging information; conducting joint coordinated exercises and operations; as well as joint investigations related to TIP.

Under the declaration, the leaders agreed to strengthen regional efforts to identify trafficked or potential victims; promote the effective implementation of the existing ASEAN instruments related to TIP, such as the ACTIP, to maintain their relevance and adaptability in the context of emerging and future challenges; and encourage setting a minimum standard of protection at the regional level for a victim of TIP.

The leaders also agreed to strengthen cooperation in the field of border management, prevention, investigation, law enforcement, prosecution, protection, repatriation, and support such as rehabilitation and reintegration of victims; and improve national prevention efforts, including enhancing public awareness campaigns and labour inspection systems, enhancing cross-border control and migration management, and strengthening the use of advanced technology.

They agreed to provide immediate response and assistance to victims of TIP, including by improving channels of coordination and communication on information exchange, improving access to legal assistance, remedy, and grievance, and collaborating with law enforcement networks in the region. Moreover, ASEAN countries will enhance mutual legal assistance in TIP cases, including those caused by abuse of technology, through the effective implementation of the ASEAN Treaty on Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters (AMLAT)./.