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Myanmar, Thailand ink treaty to tackle terror

Under the treaty, members of ASEAN could give assistance in collecting evidence for criminal investigations and proceedings.

india Updated: Jan 17, 2006 15:36 IST

Myanmar and Thailand on Tuesday signed in Malaysia a regional treaty to cooperate in fighting transnational crime including terrorism, the last of the 10 ASEAN members to do so.

"Today is the climax. All 10 of us are brothers. Let's work together to stamp out cross-border crime," Malaysia's de facto law minister Mohamad Radzi Sheikh Ahmad told reporters.

Radzi said that under the treaty, members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations could request and give assistance in collecting evidence for criminal investigations and criminal proceedings.

"Such an arrangement would be of great value in the apprehension of criminals who have sought refuge from the law by fleeing to neighbouring countries," he said at the signing ceremony.

The idea of a regional treaty was initiated by Malaysia amid concerns over rising transnational crimes such as drug trafficking and the smuggling of migrants in the ASEAN region.

The eight other ASEAN members -- Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, the Philippines, Singapore, Vietnam and Malaysia -- signed the treaty in November 2004.

Myanmar and Thailand did not sign at the time because they had not completed their internal constitutional processes, Malaysia's attorney-general's office said in a statement.

Attorney-General Abdul Gani Patail said that in the past criminals had been able to escape punishment because there was no set procedure to request evidence from another regional country.

"It has caused delays and it allows criminals to run around with impunity. With the procedures in place, I can react very fast," he said.

The Indonesian-based Jemaah Islamiyah extremist group has plotted or carried out attacks in several Southeast Asian nations in recent years.

First Published: Jan 17, 2006 15:36 IST