You are reading: Meet Tuan Meedin Meet Tuan Meedin
12 December 2023 |
Meet Tuan Meedin

Tuan Meedin, Assistant Superintendent of Police, Sri Lanka joined the RSO office as a secondee in August 2023, where he is working with the RSO’s Countering People Smuggling programme to facilitate a two-way exchange of experiences and knowledge. Tuan brings expertise and insights around irregular maritime migration and is furthering work to support regional efforts around public information campaigns.

A key outcome of Tuan’s time with the RSO has been to arrange a two-week training program on International People Smuggling Investigations, which is taking place in Sri Lanka from 20 November to 1 December. The program brings together 24 participants from Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia, and Vietnam. This training is timely, noting irregular maritime ventures continue to pose a key challenge in the region—with some 900 Rohingya asylum seekers arriving in Aceh, Indonesia from Cox’s Bazar, in southeastern Bangladesh in just over one week in November. The training will include practical exercises such as boat searching, witness interviewing, and evidence presentation to support participants to work through a coordinated response.

Can you tell us about your career in the Sri Lanka National Police, and some career highlights?

I joined the Sri Lanka Police Service as a Sub Inspector of Police in 1988, which gives me more than 34 years of experience in the middle and top-level management of the Sri Lanka Police. This includes 14 years’ experience as a Station Officer in Charge, 15 years’ managing at a regional branch level, and 3 years managing at the district level.

I am currently the Assistant Superintendent of Police in the Human Trafficking, Smuggling and Maritime Crime Investigation Division of the Criminal Investigation Department. This makes me responsible for all investigations and prosecution related to trafficking in persons and migrant smuggling cases. I have also held a Deputy Director role in the Division since September 2021.

What led you to consider a secondment to the RSO?

Much of my career has focused on countering trafficking in persons and smuggling of migrants, and I have been fortunate to work alongside and learn from many regional partners over the years, including the Australian Federal Police, New Zealand Immigration and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. I’ve also engaged extensively with international organisations and NGOs, including the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), Save the Children, International Organization for Migration (IOM) and the Red Cross.

I have previously taken part in RSO and Bali Process trainings and activities, including the RSO People Smuggling Investigation Skill Course, held at the Jakarta Centre for Law Enforcement Cooperation (JCLEC).

I was a Member of the Indonesian National Committee to develop standard operating procedures (SOPs) for law enforcement authorities on detection and investigation of trafficking related crimes against children and helped to shape a curriculum proposed by the Committee for a degree at Colombo University.

I have also held a role in the United Nations Mission in the Republic of South Sudan as a Police Adviser.

These international experiences and my role as Deputy Director for Human Trafficking, Smuggling and Maritime Crime Investigation allowed me to pursue this exciting opportunity to join the RSO as a secondee from Sri Lanka Police.

What pieces of work have you been involved in at the RSO?

Since joining the RSO, I have been able to share my expertise and insights around irregular maritime migration and best practice on people smuggling investigations and managing vulnerable migrants.

In October, I contributed to the Bali Process Regional Training Workshop on Smuggling of Migrants, a four-day workshop held in Bangkok bringing together 25 participants from Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Malaysia, Indonesia and Thailand.

I developed and participated in a panel discussion on Smuggling of Migrants at the RSO 2023 Constructive Dialogue, held over 10-11 October, which brought the Bali Process membership together at a Senior Official level for two formal days of dialogue. In this session, I presented a case study from Sri Lanka, which told the story of one individual who fell prey to smugglers and lost his family home, and presented an example of successful information sharing across law enforcement and border agencies.

I am also leading the development and delivery of a two-week International People Smuggling Investigations Program, which will be delivered by the RSO, the Australian Federal Police, New Zealand Immigration and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, and takes place in Sri Lanka from 20 November to 1 December this year, bringing together 24 participants from Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia, and Vietnam.

Irregular maritime ventures continue to pose a key challenge for our region, and the training will include a boat simulation exercise to support participants to work through a coordinated response.

And I am also designing a Roundtable on Maritime People Smuggling and Irregular Migration in the Andaman Sea and Bay of Bengal, to take place in early 2024.

How did you find adjusting to working in RSO and how does it compare to your experiences at the Sri Lanka National Police?

After I was nominated for this position, I studied about the Bali Process and the RSO and learned more about its role in supporting Member States to counter criminal activities relating to trafficking in persons and smuggling of migrants.

My role at the RSO has focused on implementing and developing projects that can support counter smuggling efforts. I participate in weekly staff meetings which allow exchange of ideas and discussions on priorities for the week.

Since joining the RSO, I have been able to extend my networks and knowledge to identify trends and patterns around people smuggling, and how transnational crime actors operate. I have built understanding around best practices employed by other Bali Process Member States to ensure the quality of information shared across borders and by law enforcement agencies.

What has been the best thing about your secondment?

It has been an honour to work with the RSO team.

As a law enforcement officer, I was able to work with other officers across Bali Process Member States and identify best practices that can be applied to counter smuggling, and which I can also take back to my workplace.

After participating in RSO activities, including the 2023 Constructive Dialogue and the Members Engagement Function, I have been able to build on my knowledge and contacts and opportunities for cooperation across Bali Process Member and Observer State Senior Officials and International Organisations.

I have been impressed at how all Member States are given equal consideration, and that the RSO gives maximum space to discuss any ideas presented by Member States.

Have there been any challenges?

Of course, yes! I had not heard about the RSO Secondment Programme, and I found it challenging as the first officer to represent Sri Lanka Police as a secondee to the RSO.

I have worked hard in this role to maximise the knowledge and experience I can gain from this Secondment.

Working in English has also sometimes been difficult—the RSO team is very international and the meaning behind some phrases can sometimes get lost!

What pieces of advice would you give to anyone considering a secondment to the RSO?

Reliance on paperwork is decreasing and secondees should be able to adapt to the contemporary world where new technology is used. Seconded officers should have a wide knowledge of issues surrounding trafficking in persons and smuggling of migrants and be confident to work under different settings.

The RSO provides a good opportunity for officers to better understand how the world and other regional actors approach issues, and differing priorities, gaps and opportunities.

What is on your 2024 wish list?

I have observed that strong cooperation has been built up with Bali Process Member States. That is good, and it is also possible to see that sharing information amongst Member States has also been developed to some extent. When sharing sensitive information, it is important to consider legal barriers (the provisions of the legislation of each country may differ). Therefore, I believe the RSO can support Member States to work towards a strong international convention in this regard.

The Middle East is a hub for millions of migrant workers, with thousands each year falling victim to trafficking or using smuggling services. I would like to recommend that the RSO continues work in developing an anti-trafficking workshop for Bali Process Member States from the Middle East region.