Jakarta (ANTARA News) - Australian Minister for Immigration and Citizenship Brendan O`Connor and Foreign Minister Bob Carr have announced the region has taken a significant step forward in combating people smuggling and human trafficking.

"Minister O`Connor and Senator Carr are in Bali for the Fifth Ministerial Conference of the Bali Process on People Smuggling, Trafficking in Persons and Related Transnational Crime," said a joint statement of the two ministers that was posted on the official website of the Australian foreign affairs ministry on Tuesday.

O`Connor, who is leading the Australian delegation, welcomed a decision to link the Bali Process with the Jakarta Center for Law Enforcement Cooperation (JCLEC).

Senator Carr is co-chairing the Ministerial Conference with Indonesian Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa.

"JCLEC has led training in countering terrorism and is well placed to boost our region`s police and border security response to people smuggling and trafficking in persons," O`Connor said.

"This partnership will bring together our law enforcement and immigration management experts to build capacity and strengthen the capabilities of countries in the region to help them to address people smuggling and human trafficking."

Senator Carr said Bali Process Ministers also agreed to set up a working group to better coordinate and direct Bali Process efforts to address human trafficking.

"This new group will work with Governments, civil society organizations and the private sector in countering human trafficking and to support and protect its victims," Senator Carr said.

"Importantly, it will focus on labor exploitation aspects of trafficking which is a serious problem in the region.

"By connecting the Bali Process with the good work being done by a range of groups such as World Vision, the Walk Free initiative, STOP THE TRAFFIC, and union and industry groups, we will be better able to address labor exploitation aspects of human trafficking."

In 2011, Bali Process ministers reached a milestone in agreeing to the Regional Cooperation Framework which provided a blueprint for countries to work together to address irregular migration.

O`Connor said late last year, the Bali Process established a regional support office in Bangkok to coordinate work under the framework to tackle people smuggling and trafficking.

"We are pleased to announce that Ministers have agreed to an implementation plan for the Regional Framework," O`Connor said in the joint statement.

"The Regional Framework, including through the Regional Support Office, will help Bali Process members to better work together to deter the irregular movement of people in the region and make it harder for people smuggling syndicates to operate," he added.
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Editor: Jafar M Sidik
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