Officials pose for a photo at the ASEAN-Australia Ministerial Meeting in Bangkok, Thailand, on August 1 (Source: VNA)

Hanoi (VNA) – Australia has pledged 55 million USD to fight human trafficking in Southeast Asia, vowing to tackle "modern slavery" across the region.

The funding is part of a 10-year scheme that includes training for police and judges to probe criminal networks, the AFP news agency quoted Australian Foreign Minister Marise Payne as saying at the 52nd ASEAN Foreign Ministers’ Meeting in Bangkok, Thailand, on August 1.

The initiative will also support joint international investigations to help rescue victims and ensure traffickers are charged, she noted.

Payne added that there are many deep-rooted factors that enable transnational crime, from corruption through to the unequal status of children and other vulnerable groups.

Rising demand for cheap labour, especially in the fishing and construction industries, has also spurred trafficking networks across Southeast Asia, according to the official.-VNA