You are reading: 2024 RSO Members’ Engagement Function held in Jakarta connects Bali Process counterparts and cultivates opportunities for regional cooperation 2024 RSO Members’ Engagement Function held in Jakarta connects Bali Process counterparts and cultivates opportunities for regional cooperation
27 June 2024 | Event
2024 RSO Members’ Engagement Function held in Jakarta connects Bali Process counterparts and cultivates opportunities for regional cooperation

The 2024 RSO Members’ Engagement Function, held on 5 June 2024 in Jakarta, Indonesia, brought together more than 100 senior-level representatives from 28 Bali Process Member and Observer States, 14 International Organisations and private sector companies, and several agencies from the Government of the Republic of Indonesia.

With the objective of providing a pathway for Member States to explore and informally discuss collaborative efforts that are taking place across the Bali Process region on countering trafficking in persons, people smuggling, and related transnational crime, the Members Engagement Function delivered a number of opportunities for the forging of new collaborations and partnerships.

This was the first time the RSO held this flagship event outside of Thailand, acknowledging Indonesia’s pivotal role alongside Australia as Co-Chair of the Bali Process and its role in co-managing the Regional Support Office of the Bali Process (RSO).

The event was but one of five activities delivered by the RSO and our partners in Jakarta as part of the #RSOJakarta24 initiative.

Other activities included:

  • a week-long training workshop on Border Management by Air, which brought together 30 delegates from international airport hubs from Indonesia, Thailand, Malaysia, India and the Philippines, delivered in partnership with the Australian Border Force and Jakarta Centre for Law Enforcement Cooperation.
  • a Technical Experts Meeting on Following the Money in trafficking in persons cases which brought together 45 delegates and experts on current trends and challenges on illicit financial flows associated with trafficking in persons, delivered in partnership with the ASEAN-Australia Counter Trafficking Program and the Global Initiative Against Transnational Organised Crime.
  • A Focus Group Discussion with some 20 officials from the Government of the Republic of Indonesia as part of the RSO’s Assessment and Gap Analysis of National Legal Frameworks on Trafficking in Persons and related Laws, delivered in partnership with the International Organization for Migration.

By bringing together an intensive week of events in Jakarta, the RSO aimed to support the convergence of diverse RSO contacts, cross-pollination of knowledge and expertise and an opportunity to showcase the breadth and depth of contributions being made by the Bali Process, RSO and our partners.

Forging connections, strengthening relationships

Ambassador Tri Tharyat, Director General for Multilateral Cooperation from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Indonesia and Senior Official Co-Chair of the Bali Process (Indonesia), and Gita Kamath Australian Deputy Ambassador to Indonesia from the Australian Government formally opened the 2024 Members Engagement Function.

As part of the official opening, Ambassador Tharyat and Deputy Ambassador Kamath reflected on the continued relevance and crucial role for the Bali Process and the RSO in the region highlighting evolving challenges around trafficking in persons and people smuggling—particularly as facilitated by technology—which requires contemporary mechanisms that support enhanced regional cooperation and collaboration in order to effectively address these current and emerging challenges.

The importance of creating opportunities for the forging of connections across Member States and international counterparts was also a clear theme for Ambassador Tharyat and Deputy Ambassador Kamath who noted that international organisations, civil society actors, private sector representatives and experts all working together to strengthen border and migration management can improve the protection of vulnerable persons and responses to transnational crime.

Ambassador Tri Tharyat said: “I am assured more than ever of the importance of the Bali Process as a forum and vehicle to promote dialogue and cooperation in addressing people smuggling, trafficking in persons and related transnational crimes in our region.

“I believe the Bali Process and the RSO can continue to deliver tangible activities and outcomes that support Member States in preventing and combatting trafficking in persons, people smuggling, and related transnational crimes. I encourage colleagues to continue to build and strengthen connections and identify new opportunities for cooperation.”

 

Deputy Ambassador Gita Kamath said: “As Co-Chair of the Bali Process alongside Indonesia, Australia recognises our significant efforts to promote regional and cross-sector collaboration across government agencies, international organisations, civil society and the private sector.

“I would like to formally recognise the ongoing efforts of the RSO, supported by the Co-Managers from Indonesia and Australia. The RSO is the only cooperation mechanism of its kind in the Asia Pacific region, which makes it an important, unique and vital part of our efforts to combat significant transnational crime in the region. Australia’s funding to the RSO has enabled continued practical support from the RSO to Bali Process members.”

Indonesia’s pivotal role in the Bali Process

As Co-Chair of the Bali Process, Indonesia plays a pivotal role in leading dialogue and coordination around challenges facing the Bali Process region.

For example, Indonesia has held a leading role for the region in promoting dialogue and a coordinated response to the issue of trafficking into forced criminality in cyber scam centres, calling on the RSO in late 2022 to provide support on the issue. In January 2023, the RSO facilitated a regional discussion and subsequently published a policy brief called ‘Trapped in Deceit’, which subsequently informed further regional multi-stakeholder dialogues and workshops in Jakarta, Bangkok and Manilla.

Officers across Indonesia have regularly participated in RSO capacity building initiatives, including in trainings conducted in Banda Aceh and North Sumatra in response to rising numbers of attempted boat landings with vulnerable migrants throughout 2023.

The RSO was also thrilled to welcome Indonesian Officers from the newly launched RSO Alumni Network to our event. Ade Harianto, Director of General Crime, Aceh Provincial Police, Komang Aswatama, Chief of Unit, Riau Regional Police and Kiven Manus and Rifqi Hadrianto, Indonesian Immigration Officers addressed attendees remarking on the value of the knowledge provided by the RSO and the professional growth these experiences had afforded them.

Ade, Komang, Kiven and Rifqi all took part in RSO capacity building workshops over the past year and showed commitment to implementing their learnings back into their workplace.

Separately, Indonesia has been an eager early adopter of the re-launched RSO Secondments Programme which resumed only last year following a long hiatus through the COVID-19 pandemic.  Indonesia has already seconded two officers to the RSO offices in Bangkok that has enhanced coordination between the RSO and our counterparts from the Government of the Republic of Indonesia with discussions underway relating to future secondees.

Trafficking into cyber-scam centres

Opening remarks were followed by a performance by sand artist Kongkait Kongchandee, developed in collaboration with the RSO and anti-trafficking organisation A21. The performance, which was first showcased at last year’s Members’ Engagement Function in Bangkok, tells the real story of a person who was deceived by a false job opportunity and trafficked across borders, to be forced to work in a cyber-scam centre. The account also details his subsequent rescue through cross-border law enforcement efforts, and the important support he received from A21 to begin to rebuild his life.

 

As the issue of trafficking into cyber scam centres continues to expand and evolve, this moving narrative of an individual’s lived experience underlines the need for continued leadership and coordinated responses—in Indonesia, the Bali Process region, and beyond.

In 2024, the RSO is continuing a focus on technology and Artificial Intelligence in trafficking into cyber scam centres. The RSO is currently piloting a new Open-Source Intelligence curriculum in addition to undertaking research on cyber-scam centres and illicit financial flows with ASEAN-Australia Counter Trafficking and the Global Initiative Against Transnational Organised Crime.

Fostering avenues for cooperation

Attendees to the event took part in several networking activities throughout the evening to encourage discussions on common interests and potential areas for collaboration.

“I would like to highlight how important an occasion this is for the RSO,” said David Scott the Australian RSO Co-Manager. “The RSO Members’ Engagement Function supports one of the RSO Core Purposes, which is to act as a connector for Bali Process members, providing opportunities for dialogue and strengthening relationships.

“The convening power of the Bali Process and the practical and technical reach of the RSO is reflected in the diverse range of attendees who came together at the RSO Members’ Engagement function—from ambassadors and diplomats, to policy officials, law enforcement, immigration and coast guard officers, to experts on financial crime, humanitarian workers, civil society organisations and the private sector. The diversity of viewpoints is critical to strengthening our collective responses to counter people smuggling, trafficking in persons and related transnational crime.  The bringing together of this melting pot of experience drives new and innovative ideas and demonstrates the strengths and opportunities brought to the region by the work of the RSO.

“This is the first time we have held our Members’ Engagement Function outside Bangkok, and we hope the event has served to successfully join regional counterparts—both new and familiar. Thank you to everyone who gathered with us in Jakarta to share ideas, network, and explore opportunities for collaboration and we look forward to taking forward these connections to support practical and technical activities that will further support the Bali Process mandate.”