The Bali Process Ministerial Conference today took a major step towards tackling people smuggling by agreeing to a regional cooperation framework.

Minister for Foreign Affairs, Kevin Rudd, and the Minister for Immigration and Citizenship, Chris Bowen, welcomed the adoption of the framework.

“This is a milestone in the development of a co-ordinated approach by nations in and around the Asia-Pacific to address the challenge of people smuggling,” Mr Rudd said.

“It represents a significant win for Australian diplomacy, with the framework the key objective of the Government for this meeting.”

Mr Bowen welcomed the range of practical measures outlined by the conference for governments to consider when giving effect to the framework.

“This is an important outcome in terms of providing a clear blueprint for the countries of the region to work together to deal with people smuggling,” Mr Bowen said.

The Bali Process outcome also makes specific reference to a regional assessment centre or centres, as a measure that governments could agree to under the framework.

The framework provides the regional context for Australia to take forward bilateral discussions with countries in the region on measures to combat people smuggling including a regional processing assessment centre.

The Bali Process co-chairs’ statement provides for several options for practical action, including:

  • the development of bilateral arrangements to undermine people smuggling and create disincentives for irregular movement, including where appropriate, transfers, returns and readmissions;
  • the targeting of people smuggling enterprises through coordinated border security arrangements; and
  • strengthened information and intelligence sharing.