Saturday, April 12, 2008

Thailand & Vietnam Sign Anti-Trafficking Agreement

From the Bangkok Post:

Thai Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej opened a three-day visit to Vietnam Monday with the signing of an agreement between the two countries on combating human trafficking.

Thailand and Vietnam "have the same development situation," Samak told Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung. He said he looked forward to improving cooperation and trade relations.

The two leaders witnessed the signing of a memorandum of understanding on combating human trafficking by Thai Social Development and Human Security Minister Sutha Chansaeng and Vietnamese Deputy Minister of Public Security Le The Tiem.

The agreement is part of a joint anti-trafficking initiative launched in 2004 between the six countries in the Mekong subregion, which also includes Myanmar, China, Cambodia, and Laos.

Thailand is a relatively minor destination for Vietnamese trafficking victims, usually women, who are more often smuggled to Cambodia or China and forced into sex work, according to officials at anti-trafficking programs in Vietnam.

"I believe there are a number of Vietnamese working (in the Thai sex industry)," said Hoang Thi To Linh, an official at the International Organization for Migration's anti-trafficking programme in Hanoi.

Thailand does sometimes serve as a transit point for Vietnamese being smuggled on to Malaysia, Russia or Western European countries, according to officials at the UN Inter-Agency Programme on Human Trafficking in the Greater Mekong Subregion.

The agreement signed Monday is a move towards adopting a standard operating procedure for victim identification and repatriation, which includes the adoption by all regional legal systems of the UN's definition of trafficked persons.

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