The Jakarta Post
ASEAN is set to strengthen the region's cooperation with the European Union (EU) and Interpol in managing border security to tackle transnational organized crime that has threatened the peace and stability of Southeast Asia.
'This is an opportunity for ASEAN member states to strengthen our border management systems and develop better integrated criminal justice systems to address issues of crime related to migration,' said ASEAN deputy secretary-general Vongthep Arthakaivalvatee.
The statement was given during a ceremony to launch the second phase of the EU-ASEAN Migration and Border Management program at the ASEAN secretariat on Tuesday. The three-year program, funded by the EU and implemented by Interpol, aims to bring further cooperation following previous pilot program in 2012.
According to Interpol's director of operational support and analysis, Michael O'Connell, the urgency to enhance security cooperation lies in the threats brought by the expansion of indigenous terrorist attacks promoting extremism and ongoing illegal migration facilitated by organized crime groups all around the world. Rapid technological advancements have also enabled criminal groups to find loopholes in states' security.
He added that law enforcement alone could not improve border management as it needed more comprehensive action, able to tackle transnational organized crime, especially when ASEAN aims to become a borderless region such as EU.
'The free movement of people will only be successful if we know where the threats are. Thus, it is important for us to strengthen our intelligence cooperation and information sharing among our trusted partners,' Michael told thejakartapost.com recently.
ASEAN's Minister for the Interior, HE Lapresse Sieng, said that barriers to information sharing lay in the secrecy embodied by intelligence agencies. He also stressed the need for intelligent officials to differentiate between spying and sharing important information for security. Without that, he said, they would support the criminals by not sharing information with law enforcers.
'Information sharing will help us see the increasing links that connect issues. For example, drugs and crimes or terrorism and crimes, and also the dynamics between them,' said Vongthep.
He added that the EU and Interpol were also set to provide capacity building in terms of man-power, which, with the program entering its second phase, will indeed contribute to strengthening the capacity of all criminal justice and law enforcement officials. (kes)(++++)