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Goff address to people smuggling conference, Bali

Hon Phil Goff
Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade
Media Statement

28 February 2002

Goff address to people smuggling conference in Bali

THEME 2: How do we build on existing regional and multilateral efforts to work cooperatively to stop smugglers and trafficking in persons, including women and children?


Co-Chairs, Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen. I would to join others and thank our co-hosts for their initiative in organising this conference.

The conference has already achieved part of its purpose, which is to highlight the problem of increasing illegal migration associated with organised crime. The success of our conference will be judged on our ability to produce better cooperation, commitment from our countries and to take practical measures to fight it.

The reason why we should do so is that the increasing involvement of organised crime in illegal migration challenges the rule of law and endangers those migrants who become the human cargo of those who trade in people’s desperation. The criminal networks involved in smuggling people also bring related crimes of drugs and arms trafficking, money laundering and document fraud. People smuggling also carries risks to national security, particularly in light of the events of September 11.

We need to complement but not duplicate work in existing organisations, such as the Asia-Pacific Consultations on Refugees, Displaced Persons and Migrants; ASEAN and the ASEAN Regional Forum; Pacific Immigration Directors and Intelligence Conferences; the framework of the 1999 Bangkok Declaration.

We need a concrete outcome from this conference. We Ministers need to give broad agreement to the statement from the joint chairs. We need the establishment of two ad hoc working groups to provide the detailed programmes necessary to implement the framework set out by the joint chairs.

Practical action is needed.

The UN Convention on Transnational Organised Crime and the Protocols on Trafficking and Smuggling are the key to defeating these problems. Over 120 countries have signed but so far only a handful have ratified. We need to legislate to implement obligations under it.

New Zealand is introducing legislation to criminalise the offences. People Smuggling and Trafficking will be punishable by up to 20 years imprisonment and $500,000 fines. These are strong penalties and are designed to be a deterrent. They are the toughest penalties applicable to criminal actions, other than murder. There will also be tough penalties for the falsification and forgery of travel documents, and for the employment and exploitation of illegal migrants. Enhanced cooperation on mutual assistance in criminal matters and on confiscating the proceeds of crimes is also required.

We need systems to ensure information sharing about operations of people smugglers in transit, source and destination countries.

We need agreement on the interception of smuggling movements, including closer cooperation between flag states of smuggling ships and destination countries.

We need measures to enhance the resettlement of genuine refugees quickly and fairly through UNHCR authorised procedures. We need to help transit countries by being prepared to help resettle genuine refugees.

We also need agreement on the return and resettlement of illegal migrants, where appropriate, either multilaterally or bilaterally, in a way that recognises the needs of those so returned.

And we need enhanced arrangements for training and capacity building for countries needing assistance in regard to border management and visa policies and law enforcement agencies.

If we come back in a year’s time and can show these things have happened, our time and effort at this conference will have been well-spent.

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