MANILA -- The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) stepped up efforts to curb human trafficking in the region as it launched a book that would guide policymakers in ending the illegal practice.

Through the cooperation of the Australian Agency for International Development (AusAID) and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, the organization released last Wednesday the Asean Handbook on International Legal Cooperation in Trafficking in Persons Cases.

“I am confident that the publication of this Handbook will further promote the harmonization of relevant national policies and programs on trafficking in persons among ASEAN countries, and strengthen institutional linkages among the various Asean mechanisms involved in combating TIP,” said Local Government Undersecretary and SOMTC chair Rico uno.

“The launching of this handbook is remarkably meaningful for the Philippines which has been chosen as the lead shepherd for trafficking in persons in the Southeast Asia region,” he added.

Australian Ambassador Rod Smith, on the other hand, praised the 11-member states of Asean for coming up with a practical guide that “will undoubtedly improve how people trafficking cases are investigated and prosecuted in the region.”

Many experts believe that extreme poverty in the Philippines, Cambodia, Burma, Laos and Indonesia, combined with poor law enforcement and corruption, are the reasons why trafficking continues to exist in the region. (Virgil Lopez/Sunnex)