Fourth Bali Regional Ministerial Conference kicks off

16:31, March 30, 2011      

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The Fourth Bali Regional Ministerial Conference on People Smuggling, Trafficking in Persons and Related Transnational Crimes, dubbed the Bali Process, began in Bali on Wednesday, according to local media reports.

Co-chairs Indonesian Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa and Australian Foreign Affairs Minister Kevin Rudd officially opened the one-day conference. "This forum should continue to provide a regional framework for addressing the challenges on some multidimensional and multifaceted issues, and therefore the framework should be comprehensive and inclusive. This forum has to provide a solution for all nations affected and I am confident that we are heading in the right direction," Indonesian foreign minister was quoted by the Jakarta Post as saying. "Our approach is multi-pronged. It involves not only socio- economic agencies, but also law enforcement agencies. We need to continue strengthening the capacity of our law enforcement agencies," he said.

The forum, initiated by Indonesia and Australia in 2002, involves officials from 41 Asia-Pacific countries that have been affected by a continued increase of people smuggling cases, mostly related to those seeking refugee status and asylum in Australia.

Officials from the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) and the International Organization for Migration (IMO) are also attending the conference as observers.

The two organizations, along with Indonesia, Australia, Thailand and New Zealand, have been appointed as members of the conference steering group.

Rudd, meanwhile, emphasized the significant increase in numbers of refugees and asylum seekers around the world.

"This forum is among 15 regional processes on the way, worldwide," Rudd said, stressing how important the issues had become for many countries across the globe.

Indonesia has been considered as a vital player in the issue since the country has been used as a transit point for illegal immigrants seeking Australian asylum. Asylum-seekers from the Middle East and Sri Lanka are also believed to have used Indonesian people smugglers' services to take them to Australia.

Source: Xinhua
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