ASEAN ministers gather to discuss transnational crime fight

November 27, 2020 - 08:07
The COVID-19 pandemic might have disrupted travel and trade, but the crime situation is as complex as ever, especially the rise in digital crimes and misinformation, Tô Lâm said.


Prime Minister Nguyễn Xuân Phúc speaks at the 14th ASEAN Ministerial Meeting on Transnational Crime held via videoconference in Hà Nội on Thursday. — VNA/VNS Photo Thống Nhất

HÀ NỘI — The 14th ASEAN Ministerial Meeting on Transnational Crime (AMMTC 14) was held via videoconference in Hà Nội on Thursday under the chair of the Vietnamese Ministry of Public Security (MPS).

In his remarks, Prime Minister Nguyễn Xuân Phúc noted that at the recent 37th ASEAN Summit, leaders of the member states agreed on many measures and major orientations for developing the ASEAN Community, with people always at the centre, and assisting people and businesses to soon overcome the COVID-19 pandemic’s impact, stabilise their lives, ensure social order, and recover economic growth.

In particular, the Political-Security Community is an important pillar building a united and strong ASEAN Community that can bring into play its stature and central role in regional security issues, he said.

Apart from the COVID-19 combat, regional countries have also had to deal with another “dangerous enemy” which is the growing transnational crime, he said, pointing out that anti-pandemic measures have led to stagnation in production and business activities and an increase in unemployment, which has triggered crimes, especially cyber crime.

PM Phúc highly valued the theme of the AMMTC 14, “Cohesive and responsive ASEAN in preventing and fighting transnational crime”, which reflects the strong commitment and resolve of the ASEAN ministers in charge of transnational crime prevention and control to contribute to the regional peace, security, and stability.

To build a cohesive and responsive ASEAN in the transnational crime fight, he suggested a number of priorities, including full and effective implementation of the ASEAN Community Vision 2025 and the Hà Nội Declaration on the ASEAN Community’s Post-2025 Vision, with special attention paid to the building of a strong Political-Security Community.

Thanh Thuỷ Border Gate's Border Guards and Customs Department in the central province of Nghệ An seized 100kg of suspected methamphetamine from four people who fled into Laos after being confronted by the officials on November 4. VNA/VNS Photo

ASEAN countries should increase building trust, further share information among law enforcement agencies, and not let any organisations or individuals take advantage of one country’s territory to harm others.

They also need to enhance cooperation and exchange experience in fighting transnational crime to ensure security and safety for ASEAN citizens and prevent social uncertainties caused by COVID-19, according to the PM.

He affirmed Việt Nam’s commitment to exert every effort to join other member states in building an ASEAN Community of peace, stability, and development.

Addressing the meeting, Minister of Public Security, General Tô Lâm said the ministry will take an active and responsible part in cooperation frameworks of ASEAN to help maintain peace and stability for countries to deal with the consequences of not only the current COVID-19 pandemic but also of climate change-related natural disasters like drought, floods, and storms.

He said about 21 million people in the Southeast Asian region could lose their jobs, which will potentially lead to increasing social instability, conflicts and crime.

The COVID-19 pandemic might have disrupted travel and trade, but the crime situation is as complex as ever, especially the rise in digital crimes and misinformation, Lâm said.

Lâm stressed that the Southeast Asia region is still a hotbed for drug trade with many countries in the region discovering cases where criminals use their ill-gotten gains to buy weapons to carry out terrorist attacks.

Regional countries will continue upholding the “cohesive and responsive” spirit to work together in combating transnational crime to develop a politically cohesive, economically integrated, and socially responsible ASEAN Community that have extensive cooperation with external partners, he added.

During the event, participants reviewed the global and regional situation, discussed solutions to promote the realisation of targets set in the ASEAN Plan of Action to Combat Transnational Crime for 2016-2025, and looked into documents on the member states’ initiatives and ideas within the AMMTC framework.

Meanwhile, the Vietnamese officials proposed making trade of ancient artefacts a priority in ASEAN cooperation, and to set up a direct line of communications between ASEAN member countries' ministers of public security.

After the discussions, public security ministers of ASEAN countries issued a joint statement with 13 items, stressing the importance of stronger coordination between members in the regional fight against transnational crimes.

Lâm said the meeting served as a demonstration of the commitment of ASEAN law enforcement agencies towards maintaining a peaceful stable environment for the benefits of all people.

Việt Nam's Ministry of Public Security also on Thursday handed over the Chairmanship of the ASEAN Ministerial Meeting on Transnational Crime in 2021 for Brunei. — VNS