PHNOM PENH — Immigration chiefs from the ten ASEAN member states met on Tuesday to discuss ways to address challenges in immigration and human smuggling.

Speaking at the opening ceremony of the 19th Meeting of the ASEAN Directors-General of Immigration Department and Heads of Consular Affairs Divisions of the Ministries of Foreign Affairs, Cambodian Interior Minister Sar Kheng said the annual event aimed to address irregular movement of people, illegal migration, trafficking in persons and labor trafficking.

“Immigration is an important and complicated matter, and immigration offences always pose threats to social security and economy through transnational crimes,” he said. “Therefore, it is essential for all ASEAN immigration departments to enhance cooperation to tackle these issues.”

He said the two-day meeting would also be a platform for the ASEAN immigration chiefs to share views and experiences over the control of international ports of entry, foreign immigrants and laborers, and the use of latest technologies for immigration affairs.

Sar Kheng, who is also a deputy prime minister, added that the meeting also served as an important responsibility towards the realization of ASEAN Community at the end of this year.

Sok Phal, chief of the Cambodia’s General Department of Immigration, said regional cooperation in immigration affairs and counter-human trafficking was crucial to build ASEAN as a region of peace and prosperity.

The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) groups Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.