11th ASEAN senior officials meeting on transnational crime

Setting up multi-lateral joint investigation teams, and "crime maps" to better understand the relation between different types of crime as well as the link between international terrorist groups and organized crime cartels. 

Some suggestions made by Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Home Affairs, Teo Chee Hean at the opening of the 11th ASEAN Senior Officials Meeting on Transnational Crime or SOMTC, on Tuesday morning.

In his opening speech, Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean said the nature and reach of transnational crime has changed tremendously. 

He said this is largely due to advances in technology and the ease at which both money and people can move across borders. 

"The challenge for SOMTC in this next decade is to move beyond its current parameters and build shared operational processes and mechanisms, to effectively check the spread of transnational criminal groups. In other words, it is time to 'sharpen the sword' and take the fight to the syndicates on the ground."

And Mr Teo hopes that the setting up of the Interpol Global Complex or IGC in Singapore, expected to be ready in 2013, will help ASEAN to tap better on regional and international enforcement networks to fight crime. 

And he said drug trafficking, human trafficking and economic crimes are three priority areas. 

"Take for example drug trafficking. In some regions of the world, the situation is so bad that the drug cartels act with impunity, leading to very high levels of violence and drug-related crime."

Mr Teo said heroin continues to be the major drug threat in the region, but Methamphetamine, commonly know as "meth" or "ice" is becoming a serious issue. 

"Meth" seized in the region now accounts for about half of the drug's global seizures. 

Mr Teo said another area that needs attention is cybercrime. 

HE urged ASEAN countries to focus on keeping secure cyber networks and infocomm infrastructure. 

A total of 14 meetings will be held during the five-day SOMTC in Singapore, which ends on Friday. 

Seven Dialogue Partners including countries such as the US, Russia, and China will also share different sets of operating norms and practices during the meeting.