Building Victim Protection Capacity in ASEAN

ASEAN-USAID PROSPECT Support to the ACWC for National-Level Capacity Building to Address the Needs of Victims of Trafficking in ASEAN

Implementing Agencies:  ASEAN-USAID PROSPECT project and NEXUS Institute

Years: 2019-2023

The identification, protection, support and reintegration of trafficking victims is at the heart of any country’s response to trafficking in persons. Victim protection is key in supporting victims to recover after their experiences and to reintegrate into their families and communities. Victim protection also can prevent further exploitation and victimization, including re-trafficking. It is also intimately tied to a trafficking victim’s access to justice, as victims are unlikely to cooperate in criminal justice procedures against traffickers without sufficient protection.

Victim protection is a critical concern for all ASEAN Member States. The landmark ASEAN Convention Against Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children (ACTIP), adopted by ASEAN leaders in 2015 and ratified in 2017, includes robust protections for trafficking victims. In 2018, the ASEAN Commission on the Promotion and Protection of the Rights of Women and Children (ACWC), with support from ASEAN-USAID PROSPECT, launched the Regional Guidelines and Procedures to Address the Needs of Victims of Trafficking in Persons to help ASEAN more consistently support victims. In collaboration with the ACWC, ACWC-appointed practitioners, and development partners, ASEAN-USAID PROSPECT also supported the development of a Regional Model Implementation Toolkit, a practical companion resource to the Guidelines and Procedures.

ASEAN-USAID PROSPECT, in close coordination with ASEAN ACWC and development partners, is implementing a capacity building program at the national and regional levels to support practitioners across ASEAN Member States to increase their capacity to protect victims of trafficking in persons. The target audience is practitioners and policymakers engaged in the protection of adult and child trafficking victims in ASEAN Member States (AMS).

The overall objectives of this capacity building work are to:

  • Strengthen capacity of AMS practitioners to protect victims of trafficking in line with the ACTIP, the ACWC Regional Guidelines and Procedures, and other regional and national mechanisms and resources
  • Enhance availability, accessibility and quality of tools and resources for CTIP practitioners to protect victims of trafficking
  • Expand understanding and awareness of good practice in victim protection among practitioners and policymakers in the region

NEXUS Institute is providing technical assistance and support to ASEAN-USAID PROSPECT in these efforts and initiatives.

 

Key activities include:

Development and Implementation of the Regional Curriculum on Trafficking Victim Identification, Protection and Support and Recovery and Reintegration

The Regional Curriculum on Trafficking Victim Identification, Protection and Support and Recovery and Reintegration has been developed by ASEAN-USAID PROSPECT, NEXUS Institute and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). The goal of the curriculum is to:

  • Strengthen practical capacity of practitioners to assist victims of trafficking in line with the ACTIP, the ACWC Regional Guidelines and Procedures, COMMIT and other regional and national mechanisms and resources
  • Expand understanding and awareness of key principles & approaches, as well as good practice, in victim identification and protection among practitioners and policymakers in ASEAN member states
  • Provide a curriculum in line with regional standards but tailored to the national level and country content

The target users are national level practitioners and partner organizations/institutions in ASEAN Member States, including social work professionals, mental health professionals, healthcare workers, education professionals, law enforcement, among others engaged in the protection of trafficking victims.

Training content draws on adult learning principles and is evidence-based, context-specific, and participatory in nature. The curriculum is modular in nature and is designed to be adapted and translated by partners in different countries to suit capacity building needs and context of their target training group. The curriculum is being tailored to national contexts throughout the AMS. National-level training workshops are being conducted in select AMS, in coordination with ACWC, ASEAN Secretariat and national level partners.

The curriculum is open access and available to organizations and institutions working on trafficking victim protection. For access to the curriculum please contact: rsurtees@nexusinstitute.net

 

National-Level Capacity Building on Trafficking Victim Protection in ASEAN Member States

The Regional Curriculum on Trafficking Victim Identification, Protection and Support and Recovery and Reintegration is being tailored and implemented in select countries in the AMS as part of work to enhance the protection of trafficking victims. In each country, the curriculum is being tailored to the specific country or location and the target audience. The curriculum is also being translated into the national language of the country.

Currently the curriculum has been adapted, tailored and translated for implementation in Thailand (in partnership with World Vision and USAID Asia CTIP) and Indonesia (in partnership with Dark Bali coalition).

 

Thematic Dialogue Series for Practitioners to Better Address the Needs of Victims of Trafficking

The Thematic Dialogue Series is a forum for AMS practitioners working on trafficking victim protection to participate in technical dialogues on thematic areas of interest. The dialogues are focused on one technical issue that has been identified as a challenge in the effective protection of trafficking victims in ASEAN. The goal is to discuss a common issue or challenge and to explore solutions/strategies to manage or overcome these challenges.

The dialogues are limited in size (approximately 15-20 practitioners) and follow the Chatham House Rule to provide a safe and comfortable environment for practitioners to discuss and share their experiences and to ensure sufficient time for each practitioner to engage in discussion. They promote cross-country and/or cross-sector communication and exchange of perspectives and solutions on an issue of importance to national level practitioners. The thematic discussions are informed and framed by existing materials such as the Regional Procedures and Guidelines, Model Implementation Toolkit, Practitioner Guides (developed by the Bali Process RSO and NEXUS Institute) and other materials from ACWC, national governments or other development partners.

 

Thematic Dialogue #1. Challenges in Identifying Trafficking Victims Who Are Encountered as Offenders

The first Thematic Dialogue focused on challenges associated with the preliminary and formal identification of trafficking victims who are initially encountered as offenders. Many trafficking victims are not preliminarily screened for trafficking and are instead misidentified as offenders (e.g. irregular migrants, involved in illegal activities like prostitution or illegal fishing). As a result, they are arrested, deported and/or prosecuted, rather than protected as victims of trafficking. Even child trafficking victims have been treated as offenders rather than protected as victims, as a result of being treated as adults or misclassified as children in conflict with the law rather than as screened as possible trafficking victims. As a result of being unidentified, trafficking victims may be re-victimized and traumatized during raids, arrests, detention, trials and incarceration. Mis-identification is also a missed opportunity for authorities to identify and protect victims and uncover information about trafficking in persons that can be used against perpetrators. The first Thematic Dialogue explored different challenges faced in identifying victims who are first encountered as offenders as well as discussed strategies to strengthen the capacity of practitioners to preliminarily identify and refer potential trafficking victims they may encounter in the course of their work.

Thematic Dialogue #1 was held virtually and co-hosted by PROSPECT, NEXUS Institute, and ASEAN-ACT and drew from the recent ASEAN-ACT publication: Implementation of the Non-Punishment Principle for Victims of Human Trafficking in ASEAN Member States. It was held virtually, with presentation and discussion conducted by the paper’s author, Marika McAdam.

Dialogue Brief #1: Challenges in Identifying Victims of Trafficking Who Are Encountered as Offenders (2022)

This thematic dialogue brief is based on the CTIP Thematic Dialogue: Challenges in Identifying Victims of Trafficking Who Are Encountered as Offenders, jointly hosted by ASEAN-USAID Partnership for Regional Optimization with the Political-Security and Socio-Cultural Communities (PROSPECT), NEXUS Institute and ASEAN-Australia Counter Trafficking (ASEAN-ACT) Program on August 9, 2022.

Presentation: Challenges Identifying Victims of Trafficking Encountered as Offenders (forthcoming)

 

 

Thematic Dialogue #2. Enhancing Trafficking Victims’ Access to Services. How to Develop a Directory of Services for Trafficking Victims

The second Thematic Dialogue focused on enhancing trafficking victim access to protection and support and reintegration services, recognizing that many trafficking victims are never identified or assisted. It outlined what constitutes trafficking victim protection, support and reintegration, and the different pathways and trajectories that trafficking victims experience in their lives after trafficking. The Thematic Dialogue then explored different challenges that service providers face in providing protection and services after trafficking, as well as challenges that trafficking victims face in accessing and accepting protection and services, including lack of information about what assistance is available, who is eligible to receive this support and how to access existing assistance.

The first presentation and discussion drew from the recent publications developed by the NEXUS Institute and Regional Support of the Bali Process (RSO) exploring key protection issues for victims of trafficking in persons.

The Thematic Dialogue then presented a Directory of Services for Trafficking Victims as one strategy to ensure that trafficking victims have the information that they need to access protection, immediate support and reintegration services.

Thematic Dialogue #2 was held virtually with presentations and discussion conducted by NEXUS Institute Senior Researcher Rebecca Surtees and Researcher Laura Johnson, as well as facilitation by RSO Program Manager Nini Aung. Thematic Dialogue #2 was co-hosted by ASEAN-USAID PROSPECT, NEXUS Institute and the Regional Support Office of the Bali Process (RSO).

Dialogue Brief #2: Enhancing Trafficking Victims’ Access to Services. How to Develop a Directory of Services for Trafficking Victims (forthcoming)

This thematic dialogue brief is based on the CTIP Thematic Dialogue: Enhancing Trafficking Victim’s Access to Services. How to Develop a Directory of Services for Trafficking Victims, jointly hosted by ASEAN-USAID Partnership for Regional Optimization with the Political-Security and Socio-Cultural Communities (PROSPECT), NEXUS Institute, ASEAN-Australia Counter Trafficking (ASEAN-ACT) Program, and the Regional Support Office of the Bali Process (RSO) on December 15, 2022.

Presentation: Enhancing Trafficking Victim Access to Services. How to Develop a Directory of Services for Trafficking Victims (forthcoming)

 

 

 

The project is generously funded by

Further information about the work of ASEAN-USAID PROSPECT on CTIP is available here.