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12 May 2017

Shaping border security focus of INTERPOL workshop on ASEAN common visa

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia  – Facilitating the mobility of people throughout the ASEAN region was the focus of a series of visa system workshops held under the framework of INTERPOL’s EU-ASEAN Migration and Border Management Programme II.

Gathering 25 participants, the final two-day (8 and 9 May) Comprehensive Feasibility Study on ASEAN Common Visa Workshop contributed to shaping practical recommendations on mobility and border security in the region.

Representatives from government, law enforcement, industry, academia and European Union (EU) experts on the Schengen System took part in the workshops, with the objectives of the last in the series including:

  • gathering different perspectives from regional experts on political-security, economy, and socio-cultural sector regarding the implementation of the ASEAN Common Visa
  • obtaining a greater understanding on how the EU was able to overcome issues and challenges in its implementation of the Schengen Visa Scheme
  • providing recommendations on moving the initiative forward.

Jorrit Rijpma, Associate Professor of European Law, Leiden Law School, said: “There is a clear security aspect to a common visa policy. This INTERPOL workshop has brought the various relevant actors together at a time when transnational threats in the region call for international cooperation.”

Funded by the EU, the Programme which was launched in 2015 collaborates with the Habibie Center in Jakarta to help shape a research study on simplifying visa procedures to support ASEAN in its integration process through the implementation of the region’s Master Plan on ASEAN Connectivity.

In this respect, Mahmud Syaltout, Senior Researcher at the Habibie Center, underlined the role of the workshop as ‘a good opportunity to leverage INTERPOL’s insights and capabilities on security matters under the EU-ASEAN Programme’.

With a population of more than 600 million, and economic growth across the ASEAN region placing increasing pressures on travel and security procedures, Pou Sothirak, Executive Director of the Cambodian Institute for Cooperation and Peace, underlined ‘INTERPOL’s role in helping ASEAN rectify some of the shortfalls on irregular immigration and cross-border terrorism’.  

Harold O’Connell, INTERPOL Director of Capacity Building and Training, said: “The adoption of the Master Plan on ASEAN Connectivity by ASEAN leaders has brought up a new dimension in the region, particularly in the context of cross-border management security such as transnational crime.”

“The overarching aim of the programme is to strengthen the networks and cooperation amongst law enforcement agencies, especially at the main transit points. Through our regional hub at the INTERPOL Global Complex for Innovation we are  well placed to support ASEAN in its integration process,” added Mr O’Connell.

A final report on an ASEAN Common Visa will be delivered at the conclusion of INTERPOL’s three-year programme in June 2018.

INTERPOL EU-ASEAN Migration & Border Management Programme Visa Workshop

Dr. Mahmud Syaltout, The Habibie Center, Senior Researcher

Siti Zulaikha binti Abdul Wahab, Immigration Department of Malaysia

Kavi Chongkittavorn, Institute of Strategic and International Studies, Thailand

Pou Sothirak, Cambodian Institute for Peace and Cooperation, Executive Director

Tuan Fardhi bin Ahmad, Immigration Department Malaysia