COMMIT Workshop on Victim Identification and Referral Mechanisms
Governmental and non-governmental stakeholders from all 6 COMMIT member states, i.e. Cambodia, China, Lao PDR, Myanmar, Thailand and Viet Nam, have come together in Bangkok, Thailand for a 2-day workshop titled COMMIT Victim Identification and Referral Mechanisms: Developing Common Guidelines on 25 and 26 October.
The accurate and timely identification of victims of trafficking and the provision of needed support services are vital to counter-trafficking efforts. The COMMIT Governments have identified this as a key issue, and improving victim identification and protection services through referral mechanisms as a key objective to their multilateral and bilateral collaboration.
These frameworks have impacts across counter-trafficking efforts including: the ability of victims to be recognized and provided with effective support; the interest of victims in being formally identified; the possibility for law enforcement to gain evidence against traffickers; the ability to gather data on vulnerabilities to trafficking in persons; and to accurately understand the prevalence and forms of trafficking in persons.
Under the COMMIT Sub-regional Plan of Action IV (SPA IV: 2015-18), the Governments have agreed to the following outcomes and outputs in the area of victim protection:
Outcome 4.1: Victims of Trafficking are Identified
- Output 4.1.1: Standardised regional identification procedures, based on commonly agreed indicators of potential trafficking cases, agreed, implemented and reviewed
Outcome 4.2: Victims of trafficking in persons receive appropriate protection and rights-based assistance
- Output 4.2.1 : National referral mechanisms to support victims of trafficking operationalized
- Output 4.2.2: Victims of Trafficking receive protection and assistance both in country of destination and in their country of origin
At the regional COMMIT Taskforce meeting in February 2016, the 6 Governments agreed that victim identification frameworks and referral mechanisms were a priority for the COMMIT Process.
This follows the agreement of joint victim identification indicators at an ASEAN-COMMIT workshop in Malaysia in December 2015, the first formal initiative between ASEAN and COMMIT. The victim identification indicators are the first step in helping first responders to trafficking in persons identify more possible victims of trafficking who may then be referred to the relevant authority for initial assistance and ultimately formal identification purposes.
As a result of these developments, the Lao Government has proposed that the COMMIT Senior Officials Meeting 11 (SOM11) to be hosted in Lao PDR on 24 November 2016 focus on victim identification and referral mechanisms. Preparation for this will draw together the COMMIT governments’ experiences and commitments on this issue, and engage in consultations to develop agreed guidelines for COMMIT countries.
Recognising that policy developments and guidelines require commitment to implement, it is also intended that implementation indicators are developed to review progress against the objectives set.
The goal of the 2-day workshop is hence to develop such common COMMIT guidelines and indicators on victim identification and referral mechanisms for implementation under the COMMIT SPAIV, to be endorsed by the SOM11 in Lao PDR in November 2016.