Friday, May 09, 2008

US Asks Asia to Impose Stiff Punishment on Labor Traffickers



From the AFP:

The United States called on Asian governments Wednesday to slap stiff penalties on labor traffickers, some of whom it said were exploiting loopholes in bilateral agreements in the region.

US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice's senior advisor on the human trafficking problem said smugglers in the region deserved "potent penalties" rather than "mere slaps on the wrist" under agreements aimed at managing rising workers' migration in the region.

"I would emphasize the need for those who are subject to labor trafficking, to forced labor to be granted justice in the form of the traffickers being punished not just through receiving suspended sentences or fines but serious penalties," Mark Lagon, the US envoy to combat human trafficking, told AFP.

The United Nations suggests that prescribed sentences should be at least three to four years for human traffickers.

"But if you look, precious few people in Asia or frankly in the world are receiving serious punishments for that half of human trafficking, which is forced labor -- the other half being sex trafficking," he said after speaking at an American Society of International Law forum.

He said his office, which blacklists nations considered the worst offenders of human trafficking every year, had noticed a rise in the number of reported cases of labor trafficking.

Some of the cases "are occurring within the context of otherwise legal transnational labor migration, which is itself on the rise," he said.

Lagon said "very few, if any," of agreements forged by governments, particularly in Asia and the Middle East, contained provisions explicitly protecting migrant workers from conditions of forced labor or other forms of trafficking in persons.

Read the full article

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