August 31, 2023
PHNOM PENH – ASEAN leaders have reaffirmed their commitment to enhancing collaboration with dialogue partners and external parties to address transnational crime and strengthen border security in the region.
The commitment was made at the 17th ASEAN ministerial meeting on transnational crime (AMMTC) in Indonesian fishing town of Labuan Bajo on August 21.
Ministry of Interior secretary of state Sok Phal led the Cambodian delegation to the meeting.
“We exchanged views and reaffirmed our resolve to implement the ASEAN plan of action in combating transnational crime 2016-25,” said an August 29 joint statement.
The meeting noted the progress of the implementation of the 2022-24 programme devised by the senior officials’ meeting on transnational crime (SOMTC). The attendees looked forward to the robust and full implementation of its 10 components.
“We recognised the pervasive threat of arms smuggling in ASEAN and the challenges in preventing and curbing cross-border illicit trade and smuggling of firearms and ammunition.
“In this regard, we adopted the ASEAN declaration on combating arms smuggling as a commitment to intensify cooperation in addressing these growing challenges. We commended the efforts undertaken by Cambodia, as the SOMTC voluntary lead shepherd for the arms smuggling priority area, in leading the development of this declaration.
“We reaffirmed our commitment to strengthen collaboration with ASEAN dialogue partners and other relevant external parties to address transnational crime and enhance border security,” said the statement.
The meeting welcomed the adoption of six SOMTC work plans on cooperation to combat transnational crime, namely with the Plus Three countries from 2024-2027, China from 2024-27, India from 2023-27, Japan from 2023-27, New Zealand from 2023-25, and the US from 2023-26.
The meeting also adopted the Labuan Bajo declaration on improving law enforcement cooperation to combat transnational crime in the region.
The attendees also commended the efforts undertaken by Indonesia as chair, in leading the development of the declaration, and emphasised the principles of the ASEAN Charter, in particular the respect for, and promotion and protection of, human rights.
“We adopted the ASEAN declaration on strengthening cooperation in protecting and assisting witnesses and victims of transnational crime as a commitment to the protection and provision of assistance to witnesses and victims.
“We commend the efforts undertaken by Indonesia in leading the development of the declaration,” said the statement.
The meeting also commended the chair nation’s efforts as the SOMTC voluntary lead shepherd for terrorism priority areas. Indonesia has led the development of the ASEAN handbook on “promising practices on deradicalisation, rehabilitation and reintegration of prison inmates related to terrorism and violent extremism”.
The ASEAN leaders who attended the meeting look forward to its utilisation, noting that it will provide decision-makers with useful guidance for creating and implementing an effective rehabilitation and reintegration programme based on knowledge collated from specialists in this field.
During the meeting, Sok Phal and Indonesian National Police chief Listyo Sigit Prabowo signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) between the interior ministry and the Indonesian National Police. The agreement will see increased cooperation in preventing and combating transnational crimes, as well as capacity building.