Tuesday, September 26, 2023

Indonesia Urges ASEAN to Enhance Trans-Border Cooperation against Drug Trafficking

Jayanty Nada Shofa
September 4, 2023 | 2:37 pm
The foreign ministers of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) pose for a photo with Indonesian Chief Security Minister Mohammad Mahfud, sixth left, in Jakarta, Monday, Sept. 4, 2023. (Antara photo)
The foreign ministers of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) pose for a photo with Indonesian Chief Security Minister Mohammad Mahfud, sixth left, in Jakarta, Monday, Sept. 4, 2023. (Antara photo)

Jakarta. ASEAN chair Indonesia is nudging the Southeast Asian bloc into enhancing cross-border cooperation amidst rising transnational organized crimes including drug trafficking in the region.

Chief Security Affairs Minister Mahfud MD on Monday told the ASEAN member states to work together on strengthening border management in a bid to stop the spread of the illegal substance.

ASEAN leaders not long ago agreed to address gaps in the legal framework and systems, including on border management, in a declaration that focuses on combatting human trafficking. According to Mahfud, such efforts should not only be limited to human trafficking.

“We need to ensure the prevention, prosecution of perpetrators, and victims’ protection. This applies not only to the trafficking in persons but also to the increasing threat of other transnational organized crimes,” Mahfud said at the ASEAN Political-Security Community (APSC) Council Meeting in Jakarta on Monday.


“Money laundering, illicit drugs, and terrorism can only be addressed by stronger cross-border cooperation. Let us work together in enhancing regional cooperation on cross-border management, cross-border legal assistance, and exchange of information,” Mahfud said.

The rest of the APSC meeting took place behind closed doors.  

However, a recent United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) report revealed that Southeast Asian countries collectively seized 137.8 tons of methamphetamine throughout 2022. Three lower Mekong countries, namely Laos, Myanmar, and Thailand, alone seized 112.5 tons last year.  The report also suggested changes in trafficking patterns in Myanmar. These changes even had regional implications in the past year, particularly in the Mekong sub-region.

“Traffickers working along Thai borders in the Golden Triangle rerouted significant crystal methamphetamine supply through central Myanmar over the later part of 2022 to avoid Chinese and Thai interdiction efforts, increasing maritime shipments out of the Irrawaddy Delta, and Mon, Tanintharyi and Rakhine states,” UNODC regional representative Jeremy Douglas wrote in the report.

The Golden Triangle includes parts of Thailand, Myanmar, and Laos. The region is notorious for methamphetamine production.

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