13 March 2014 – Today’s signing of an agreement between the Union of Myanmar and Australian governments marks an important new start for anti-trafficking initiatives in the region.

This signing marks a milestone in implementing the new Australia-Asia Program to Combat Trafficking in Persons (AAPTIP) – an Australian government-funded program that started in August 2013, with a five-year commitment of $50 million (AUD) to strengthen the capacity of governments in the region to address human trafficking through criminal justice responses.

The AAPTIP program builds upon a strong history of partnership between Australia, Myanmar, Lao PDR, Cambodia, Vietnam, Thailand, Indonesia and the Philippines to combat to human trafficking in the region. Cumulatively, Australia has provided more than $50 million (AUD) between 2003 and 2013 in support of this work.   

Australia’s Ambassador to Myanmar, Her Excellency Bronte Moules, said today, “The signing of this agreement is another demonstration of the growing strength of the partnership between Australia and Myanmar, and highlights our shared commitment to fighting the scourge of human trafficking.”

Myanmar leads the commencement of this phase of the program, as it is the first of seven countries to sign a bilateral arrangement with the Australian Government for AAPTIP, and as Chair of ASEAN this year, Myanmar has already shown leadership by raising human trafficking issues in a variety of ASEAN fora.

Commenting on today’s agreement, Chief of Police Major General Zaw Win, who serves as the Secretary of the Central Body for Suppression of Trafficking in Persons, “Myanmar’s lead in this regional program reflects the Myanmar government’s strong commitment to fighting trafficking in persons within the country and within the ASEAN region with a victim-centered approach. The Central Body, drawing on the strengths of 18 government agencies, is collaborating with Myanmar civil society organisations, and is supported by a newly created Anti-Trafficking in Persons Division within the Myanmar Police Force, under the Ministry of Home Affairs.” 

The Myanmar government’s criminal justice responses to trafficking in persons are coordinated by the Government’s Working Group on Legal Framework and Prosecution Measures, chaired by the Union Deputy Attorney General. 

 Australia has had a long and productive relationship with ASEAN, this year is the 40th anniversary of ASEAN-Australia relations. The AAPTIP program is another example of Australia’s assistance to Myanmar and all of the countries of ASEAN to support their anti-human trafficking efforts fully.

AAPTIP will work closely with the Myanmar Government – particularly the Ministry of Home Affairs and the Attorney General’s Office – in identifying national anti-trafficking priorities that AAPTIP can support with the provision of technical assistance and training.