Project Relay: Countering migrant smuggling in South and Southeast Asia

Project Relay is an INTERPOL initiative, funded by the Government of Canada, to assist member countries in South and Southeast Asia in tackling the growing challenges posed by migrant smuggling in these regions through capacity building and enhancing border security. Participating countries are Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Myanmar, Nepal, Sri Lanka and Thailand.

The project will boost the capability of the beneficiary countries to decrease irregular migration by:

  • Identifying key migrant smuggling and illegal migration trends;
  • Increasing awareness and use of INTERPOL policing capabilities, such as its criminal databases, to facilitate information exchange;
  • Equipping participants with knowledge and skills in the fields of international police cooperation, border management and anti-migrant smuggling;
  • Providing technology to strengthen operational capabilities, particularly at key border points.

Project Relay will be conducted in three phases:

  • Needs assessment/intelligence gathering and analysis – to determine the challenges and assistance required;
  • Specialized training courses – targeting the areas defined during the previous phase;
  • Equipment deployment – combined with expansion of INTERPOL’s I-24/7 communications system – followed by border management operation to put the new skills into practice in the field.

To better understand the existing capabilities and knowledge gaps in the participating countries, a needs assessment and related criminal analysis were conducted. This allows INTERPOL to better target its training initiatives to ensure police have all the skills and expertise necessary to effectively tackle migrant smuggling.

INTERPOL is also working with the countries involved to gather intelligence on current and emerging migrant smuggling threats, modus operandi of the criminal networks involved and links to other related crimes such as human trafficking. To this end, a dedicated intelligence gathering workshop was held in Sri Lanka in September 2017.

At the end of this phase, a criminal analysis report was generated which highlights the key migrant smuggling and illegal migration trends identified, to advance understanding of these critical issues among police, immigration, customs and border control agencies.

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