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09 October 2023 | Event
RSO attends Budapest Process Law Enforcement Cooperation Thematic Working Group Meeting on Integrated Border Management

The Regional Support Office of the Bali Process (RSO) attended the Budapest Process Law Enforcement Cooperation Thematic Meeting in Sofia, Bulgaria in October – a newly established Working Group which met for the first time since the Budapest Process adopted its new Ministerial Declaration.

The meeting focused on Integrated Border Management (IBM), and how this approach can better support efficient management around border movements and address migratory challenges and potential future threats at these borders.

The meeting sought to provide Budapest Process partners with an update on developments in this area, specifically in Bangladesh, Iraq and Pakistan – who are also Bali Process Member States – and the opportunity to exchange good practice and lessons learnt.

Over the two days, attendees discussed how an Integrated Border Management approach can help contribute to addressing crime that has a cross-border dimension such as people smuggling and trafficking in persons.

The Budapest Process also convened a meeting of its Community of Law Enforcement Practitioners (COLEP) group, established in 2022, which is an informal forum that seeks to promote exchange of good practices and learning for law enforcement officials, to support discussions around trends and needs in regards to countering smuggling of migrants and trafficking in persons.

The RSO confirmed its commitment to collaborate and cooperate with the Budapest Process, and articulated three key shared challenges and opportunities for inter-governmental processes such as the Bali Process and the Budapest Process. These included new challenges such as trafficking into online scam centres that has upended traditional views of source, transit and destination countries which is necessitating the need for Process’ such as the Bali Process and Budapest Process to work more closely together, the enduring need to enhance information sharing and exchange between government agencies and law enforcement both within national borders and multilaterally and the criticality of understanding the evolving modus operandi of transnational criminal networks making use of technology to facilitate trafficking and smuggling.

The RSO also noted the close alignment between COLEP and the RSO’s proposed refresh of the Regional Information, Liaison and Outreach Network (the RILON Initiative) – to support ongoing knowledge and information sharing around key regional challenges.  The RSO will undertake engagement with the Budapest Process on the lesson learned in establishing the COLEP to inform the RSO’s planning for the RILON Initiative.

The RILON Initiative would provide an active space for dialogue and sharing of non-operationally sensitive information—and enable access to relevant cross-border counterparts for maritime and border agencies, law enforcement and other relevant departments. Under this proposal, the RSO would support colleagues to come together around thematic and time-limited RILON Response Groups, to address priority issues identified by Member States.

David Scott, RSO Co-Manager (Australia) said: “The RSO is proud to work closely with the Budapest Process – with our teams able to share learning and ideas which can enlarge our ability to progress inter-governmental dialogue and collaboration around complex and ever-changing challenges facing Member States around irregular migration, trafficking in persons, smuggling of migrants and related transnational crime.”