Australia to help south-east Asia combat crime

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armchairlawyer
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Australia to help south-east Asia combat crime

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A new program will help countries in the Mekong region tackle drug and human trafficking, child sexual exploitation and financial crimes.

The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade is considering prospective bidders to oversee the new program focusing on crime in the Mekong region – Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam – with a decision due by the start of March.

With a budget of $30m over eight years, the Mekong-Australia Program on Transnational Crime will help those countries to tackle trafficking in illicit drugs, human trafficking, child sexual exploitation and financial crimes.

“Australia is committed to strengthening engagement with partners in Mekong countries to reinforce our collective response to transnational crime,” a Dfat spokesperson said.

“Transnational crime generates tens of billions of dollars a year for organised crime groups through illicit activities in the region, undermining regional stability and economic development.”

The tender process to find a manager for the Mekong-Australia Program on Transnational Crime is currently under way. The program was originally due to begin late last year but Covid-19 prompted a delay.

The director of the Lowy Institute’s south-east Asia program, Ben Bland, said the Dfat initiative was “part of a wider push to deepen links with governments and law enforcement agencies in a region of growing geopolitical importance, where China is playing an increasingly dominant role”.

“If Australia and its partners such as the US and Japan want to counter-balance Beijing, they need to find more ways to help the region tackle the day-to-day problems it faces, such as transnational crime,” Bland said.

South-east Asia is now the largest methamphetamine market in the world, according to a Dfat document that outlines the design of the new program.

Citing figures from the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, the document estimates that illicit flows of goods and persons in southeast Asia are worth between US$73bn and US$114bn a year.

Many of those threats, it says, are in the Mekong region in mainland south-east Asia.

Full article:
https://www.theguardian.com/australia-n ... -in-region
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