The Bali Process on People Smuggling, Trafficking in Persons and Related Transnational Crime

Thursday, 08 Jun 2023

UNODC Roundtable on Corruption as a Facilitator of Trafficking in Persons and Smuggling of Migrants in the Philippines adds to regional discussion

The RSO participated in a roundtable discussion on the links between corruption and trafficking in persons and smuggling of migrants on 30 May in Manila, funded by the Australian Government's Department of Home Affairs. 

The roundtable, the sixth such national roundtable to-date, brought together participants from Filipino agencies including the Inter-Agency Council Against Trafficking (IACAT), the Department of Foreign Affairs and the Department of Justice. The event was structured around a discussion of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) and RSO joint publication: Corruption as a Facilitator of Smuggling of Migrants and Trafficking in Persons in the Bali Process Region with a focus on South East Asia, with participants discussing how recommendations from the report could apply in their national context, and what best practices from the Philippines could be applied elsewhere in the region.

Ryan Winch, the RSO’s Transnational Crime and Technology Programme Manager, provided opening remarks on behalf of the RSO, emphasizing the importance of anti-corruption efforts in reducing trafficking in persons and smuggling of migrants, as well as the widespread nature of corruption as a facilitator of transnational crime, and the need to address this head-on across the region.

The roundtable added to the discussion on how to respond in an evidence-based manner within a national context, and how the region can coordinate more effectively to respond to corruption. Filipino participants emphasized ongoing efforts to reduce corruption, particularly through their new guidelines for border officers which will reduce individual officers’ discretion during screening processes, thereby reducing opportunities for corruption.

Previous roundtables have taken place in Viet Nam, Malaysia, Indonesia and the Pacific as part of an ongoing project coordinated by UNODC and the RSO to better understand the role of corruption as a facilitator of trafficking and people smuggling.

Ryan Winch, Transnational Crime and Technology Programme Manager said: “It was great to participate in the first in-person roundtable discussing the links between corruption, trafficking in persons and smuggling of migrants to be held in Southeast Asia.”

“To see such frank and open discussion was a positive sign, it was refreshing to see our Filipino colleagues so engaged on an issue that often isn’t discussed so directly.  The best practices and new ideas on how to address corruption developed during the discussions show the importance of having these targeted discussions at the national level. I’m looking forward to participating in the next series of national roundtables, as well as the regional workshop being organized by UNODC later this year.”