"Combating Human Trafficking in the Asia-Pacific Region: Issues and Options

Monday, December 10, 2007, 2:35 PM

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"Combating Human Trafficking in the Asia-Pacific Region:

Issues and Options"


                                                                                                                            -Sigma Huda, UNSRT


Thank you very much for inviting me to speak at this important event in my capacity as the Special Rapporteur on trafficking in persons, especially women and children.

First of all, I would like to congratulate the organizers for choosing human trafficking as the topic of the thematic discussion because human trafficking is not only crime, it is also a human rights problem and we have to acknowledge it as such.

Human trafficking is also a highly relevant topic to address in this forum because it occurs throughout the Asian continent. There is probably not a single country in our region that is not affected by it. Human trafficking in Asia takes a range of diverse forms that have the exploitation and humiliation of the victims in common.


Issues and Concerns

In recent years, trafficking in people has re-emerged as an issue of global concern. Despite a paucity of reliable data, there is a widespread view that the majority of victims of trafficking are women and children, especially for the purpose of commercial sex. To a lesser extent even men and boys are also affected. This commercial sex industry has substantially grown in the last decades not least due to the development of sex tourism to some Asian countries from countries outside and inside our region. This is matter of great concern since, many children under the age of eighteen years - both pre adolescents and teenagers - are trafficked to cater to the demands of those sex tourists who specifically look for minors because they assume them to be more docile and less likely to be infected by HIV/AIDS or other sexually transmitted diseases. However, it would be wrong to believe that human trafficking is only for the purpose of sexual exploitation. Human trafficking may also end in forced labour and other forms of economic exploitation. Therefore we have to understand human trafficking as one aspect the wider context of forced labour and exploitation of vulnerable persons.

Another area of growing concern in Asia is the trafficking of women into forced marriages particularly in places where there is disequilibrium between the number of unmarried men and women. However forced marriage across international borders is also popular for reasons of free labour and immigration in the name of "protecting and promoting ethnicity" and statistics reveal that men are also victims of forced marriages in order to provide free labour. Every day, men, women and children striving for a better life for themselves and their families are routinely deceived and exploited to satisfy a demand for cheap goods and services. In many places of Asia, the loss of rural employment and traditional sources of income coupled with better means of communication and transportation makes people migrate to more urban affluent areas and countries. This is not an inherently bad development. On the contrary, a comprehensive World Bank study that will be released soon argues that increasing remittances from migrant workers by facilitating an organised and regulated migration is perhaps the single most promising strategy to ensure the successful development of economically marginalised countries and regions. It is important never to conflate voluntary migration (even if it is irregular) with human trafficking. This being said, some people leaving marginalised areas end up being trafficked by means of deception, threats, force or combinations thereof. Unfamiliar with their new surroundings and often lacking education, some would be migrants fall prey to unscrupulous employers that use forced labour to undercut the prices of their global competitors. Migrants that do not have access to regulated and organised migration programs are particularly vulnerable.

Whereas much earlier migration flows in Asia involved unskilled men, since the 1990s we have been witnessing a steadily increasing feminization of migration as women seize the economic opportunities that migration offers. This has also affected the trafficking situation. In South and South West Asia, for example, women are recruited by private employment agencies to work as domestic migrant workers in more affluent countries of Asia, especially the Middle East. For many women this is an important opportunity to earn a living for themselves and their families to whom they send remittances. Unfortunately these domestic and/or unskilled workers, more often than not, find themselves in exploitative situations or in slavery like conditions. In some cases the women that were recruited as domestic workers find out that they were trafficked by deception once they arrive in the' country of destination. Contrary to the contractual agreement, they have to work from sunrise to sunset for wages that are a fraction of what was originally promised; sometimes they are not paid at all. Brute physical abuse, systematic social isolation, or threats of denouncing irregular domestic migrant workers to the public authorities are used to prevent the victims from escaping an unexploitative situation that remains invisible to the public eye.

In the past, efforts to prevent trafficking have been few and relatively small-scale. Collusion between families and agents, corruption of law enforcement and border officials, and difficulty in knowing when and where transactions take place have thwarted all prevention efforts. Recently, however, growing concern about violence against women world-wide has put trafficking on the international agenda, and its connection with the sex industry, bonded and exploitative labour, and severe forms of human rights violations, among others has added urgency to global anti-trafficking efforts, including in the Asia Pacific region. A recent study of the International Labour Organisation estimates that almost as many persons are trafficked for the purpose of economic exploitation as there are victims of trafficking into sexual exploitation.

Various estimates of the number of people trafficked each year vary from tens of thousands to millions. This wide range is hardly surprising given the inherent difficulty of tracking a criminal, clandestine activity, but it is also a result of different definitions of trafficking. Traditionally, the word trafficking often used to describe kidnapping and enslavement of workers - usually women and girls in the commercial sex industry. However, recent developments world-wide have adopted much broader definitions of the term addressing both working conditions as well as how a person is recruited or treated at a subsequent stage.[i] This is because not everyone is abducted or enticed away with false promises of good jobs. Others go willingly, seeing the trafficker's offer as the best option for themselves or their families, but later regret the decision when they find themselves trapped by debt, exploitation and fear in abusive conditions.

A person who is trafficked may have been pushed or pulled or - more likely - some combination of the two. These forces are legitimately viewed from both sides of a continuum, with dire poverty and lack of opportunity creating fertile ground for traffickers, while rising aspirations and increasing exposure to mass media lure young people to cities. However, whether someone is "pushed" or "pulled" does not change the fact that she or he has been trafficked. Human trafficking is both a cause and a consequence of human rights violations. The continued existence of caste systems in some parts of Asia and other expressions of discrimination on the basis of race, ethnicity, social origin or gender, for instance, exacerbate trafficking since some people are assumed to be more exploitable and less worthy of protection than others. In some parts of one South Asian country, for example, richer families buy girls from poor families of lower social castes and give them to local temples as so called "presents to god" or in the guise of "dev dasis". This contravenes national law, but the practice is nevertheless wide spread. Having to work without pay in the temples and with no other means to support themselves, many of these women engage in prostitution. Human trafficking is a human rights problem and that should be reason enough to make us care about it. But in addition, there are security interests that are affected by human trafficking. In fact, since trafficking itself denotes an illegality, there are no and cannot be any reliable numbers of trafficked victims in the world and the numbers cited should be treated with circumspection. The most rigorous attempt to estimate the numbers of victims of which I am aware, has been undertaken by the International Labour Organisation (ILO) who estimated that at a minimum 2.45 million people worldwide find themselves in a situation of sexual or economic exploitation as a result of human trafficking. 1.3 million of the victims - more than half - are in Asia and the Pacific. Another 230,000 can be found in the Middle East and North Africa. Based on these figures, the ILO calculates that US$ 32 billion are earned every year from human trafficking. There has not been much comprehensive research on who exactly profits from this enormous sum of money and what they do with it. The little we do know however gives rise to concern. We do know, for instance, that the armed conflicts that led to the disintegration of Yugoslavia were partly financed with the proceeds of human trafficking. We also know that through the advent of internet, many conglomerates benefited financially through screening of hard porn movies especially in hotels and resorts or through sponsoring/ encouraging sex tourism. We also know that human trafficking money has strengthened the influence of organised criminal groups in some Asian countries.

At this stage I would like to state that I am not making this point because I want to encourage Governments to treat human trafficking as a law and order situation only-quite the contrary. I am convinced that any successful anti trafficking strategy has to place the human rights of the victims at the centre of all efforts to prevent and combat trafficking. A cooperation of that nature requires trust that will only be forthcoming if victims are identified as victims and their human rights are respected. Human security and national security go hand in hand. At this stage it is important to note that I am stressing the link between human trafficking and national security as stated earlier by me, to encourage further studies of trafficking in Asia in order to determine and then fill the remaining knowledge gaps

Speaking broadly, anti-trafficking options fall under three major lines of action: (1) preventing man, women and children from being trafficked; (2) protecting the human rights of victims of trafficking; and (3) prosecuting traffickers and enforcing laws against trafficking. In the recent years, various initiatives and programs in the countries of the Asia Pacific have begun addressing the problem of human trafficking, especially in women and children. Governments are becoming active, although most programs are carried out by non-governmental organisations (NGOs) with a focus on local communities. Other NGOs have regional or even global mandates to combat trafficking. Regionally, a Convention on Preventing and Combating Trafficking in Women and Children for Prostitution has been adopted by the South Asian Association for Regional Co-operation (SAARC) in 2002. Though this Convention focuses on one major aspect of trafficking, yet, as NGOs and Human Rights organisations felt, that this is only the beginning. In fact much lobby is in process to modify the Convention to make its applicability to extend beyond the existing jurisdiction. The Association of Southeast Asia Nations (ASEAN) also adopted a resolution to fight against human trafficking, a priority. In 2001, in fact, the Regional Commitment and Action Plan of the East Asia and Pacific Region Against Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children was adopted in Bangkok, Thailand. In November 2004, the ASEAN Declaration Against Trafficking in Persons, Particularly Women was adopted. The Coordinated Mekong Ministerial Initiative against Trafficking (COMMIT) adopted a Plan of Action. More recently, the said five Mekong countries (China, Vietnam, Cambodia, Lao PDR, and Thailand) have formed an intergovernmental forum in October 2004 and adopted "the Mekong Children's Recommendation for Action on Human Trafficking".[ii] Further, the Regional Ministerial Conference on People Smuggling, Trafficking in Persons and Related Trans-national Crimes (known as Bali Process) also recently held its annual meeting in Japan. Based on a more comprehensive understanding of trafficking is also the Asian Regional Initiative Against Trafficking in Persons, Particularly Women and Children (ARIAT).ln addition, I would like to highlight the important contribution of the Asia Pacific Forum of National Human Rights Institutions. The Asia Pacific Forum agreed in 2002 to establish focal points on the human rights of women- also with regard to trafficking - within each Forum Member Institution and to have a Forum Secretariat coordinate a network amongst them. Regular events are conducted on the issue of trafficking including a workshop scheduled to be held in Sydney, Australian in November this year. Unfortunately, there is no sub-regional initiative as yet to address trafficking in the Middle East. However, I am observing a growing acknowledgement of the need to address human trafficking through multilateral cooperation. Since my appointment in October 2004, for example, I have continued to receive information about young children, especially boys from South Asia and Sudan who were exploited in some Middle East countries as camel jockeys to participate in dangerous camel races. I am pleased to know that the Government of the United Arab Emirates has banned children below 16years and weighing less than 45 kg to participate in camel raciness and that a decision has been taken and to an extent partially implemented to repatriate the foreign children to their home countries with the cooperation of UNICEF through whom some funds will be distributed to each repatriated child for his integration and rehabilitation into mainstream society. In fact, from the above while it is correct to stress here that some progress has been made in the region yet there is still plenty to do. Therefore, I would like to encourage all Governments participating here to jointly sponsor a comprehensive regional study on human trafficking in Asia. The study should look at the extent and forms of trafficking in Asia and consider effective long term measures and strategies that take into account the root causes of trafficking such as poverty and discrimination along with positive joint steps and mechanisms to effectively eradicate the causes.

Trafficking is driven by both supply and demand. Poverty and gender inequalities make it easier for agents to procure young women and children, yet it is the buying power of consumers for submissive women and children that make trafficking lucrative. Where, then, should the emphasis of prevention be placed: intercepting agents, reducing poverty, penalising consumers, equalising gender relationships, or other pressure points?

It is only natural that after hearing the stories of young girls sold into virtual slavery in brothels, the natural response is to focus on protecting them. But, at the same time, one should be cautious about the fact that local efforts to reduce the vulnerability of women and children (such as poverty alleviation and job training) will only have a limited effect at best on the number of trafficked individuals. As long as demand remains strong, agents and procurers will always find vulnerable populations from other locations. On the other hand, if vulnerability could be reduced on a region-wide scale, then traffickers would have fewer opportunities to recruit, and the exploitative labour practices would decrease.

Many advocate aggressively enforcing anti-trafficking laws and prosecuting traffickers. Cracking down on trafficking has proved to be difficult, in part because of the involvement of organised crime in many countries of the region and the informal systems of bribes to law enforcement and immigration officials in others. Moreover, approaches that focus largely on prosecuting traffickers can be harmful to the people they are designed to help. Indeed, human trafficking is a microcosm of many of the complex social issues facing global society today, including gender disparities, economic inequality, migrants' rights and cultural imperialism. This makes thoughtful discussion of the issues and the needed response difficult.

It is important to note that the existing notions of trafficking in the Asia Pacific are predominantly influenced by issues of commercial sex. Yet the anti-trafficking agencies recognise that women and children are coerced, tricked or bonded into occupations and situations other than prostitution. Of notable concerns include trafficking into abusive factory labour, street-begging, domestic work and arranged marriages/'bride-buying”.

With an estimated 9.5 million, the Asia and Pacific region claims the highest number of people among the estimated 12.3 million victims of forced labour in the world today.[iii] The region is struggling against both traditional and newer forms of forced labour. While trafficking for forced commercial sexual exploitation is growing, but with 1.4 million people concerned it makes up less than 10 per cent of the total. Annual profit generated by trafficked forced labour in the Asia-Pacific region is estimated at US$ 9.7 billion. The economic disparities in the Mekong sub-region fuel the trafficking of women and children from Myanmar, Laos and Cambodia towards Thailand. Women and children from Indonesia and the Philippines are trafficked into forced commercial sex work in destination countries such as Australia, China, Hong Kong SAR, Japan, South Korea, and Taiwan, China.

The incidence of forced labour among domestic workers trafficked from these countries to Malaysia, Singapore and Hong Kong SAR is high. In Japan and Australia, for example, women have entered the country legally under "entertainment" visas, with the expectation of working in dance clubs, only to find themselves forced into providing sexual services.

In China, massive internal migration from rural to urban areas puts many young women and girls, in particular, at high risk for labour and sexual exploitation. Many Chinese migrants are also susceptible to smuggling and trafficking into ethnic business enclaves in Europe and North America, where they become trapped in slavery-like conditions in sweatshops, in restaurants, and under the premise of domestic work.

As stated earlier,   root causes of trafficking and irregular migration include poverty, indebtedness, and limited educational and employment opportunities in rural communities of origin, social exclusion and the lure of the big cities. Some women and children are sold into the sex trade, while others are trafficked for domestic or seasonal agricultural work, or begging and soliciting.

The "Bali Process" was initiated by the governments of Australia and Indonesia to develop practical measures at a regional level against trafficking and smuggling. The process has thus moved from one of merely enunciating principles to one of implementing more practical measures, and there has also been a recent change of focus from the interception of smuggling towards the prevention of trafficking and the protection of victims.

In China again, there have been well-publicised arrests and prosecutions of leaders of `trafficking networks, and a toughening of penalties. Between 2001 and 2003, the government investigated over 20,000 cases, in which 43,215 women and children were rescued and 22,018 traffickers arrested. Government action is also underway to prevent illegal immigration for work abroad by cracking down on hundreds of unregistered labour intermediary agencies.


Depicting human Trafficking in the Asia-Pacific:[iv]

  • As many as 80% of the 236 women in prostitution interviewed in Battambang Thailand (under a CATW survey) were found to have been trafficked.
  • By the time they arrive in Japan, most trafficked Thai women accumulate approximately $25,000 US in debt.
  • Thirty percent of the women in prostitution in Cambodia are below the age of 17.
  • The total revenue from prostitution in Thailand is approximately 50-60% of the government's annual budget.
  • UNICEF estimates that there are at least a million child prostitutes in Asia alone with the greatest numbers in India, Thailand, Taiwan and the Philippines.
  • Trafficking in Europe most often involves Asian women.
  • Australian Federal Police estimate that prostitution grosses A$30 million annually. Asian women are to be found in prostitution particularly in Canberra, Victoria and Queensland.
  • Russian women have also been recruited for "tabletop dancing" in clubs that often have links to brothels.
  • Over 250,000 Bangladeshi women and girls have been trafficked to Pakistan in the last 10 years, continuing at the rate of 200-400 women monthly. In Dhaka, around 5,000 prostitutes are children. Forms of trafficking are: fake marriages, sale by parents to "uncles" offering jobs, auctions to brothel owners or farmers, abduction, trafficking of very young boys to the Middle-East as 'camel-jockeys', bonded/cheap labour, domestic servitude, etc.
  • In Burma, forms of trafficking include deceptive job placements that land women in brothels, abduction by agents for clients, sale of girls from hill tribes. As illegal immigrants in Thailand, prostitutes are arrested, detained and deported back to Burma, with 50%-70% being HIV positive.
  • 35% of Cambodian prostitutes are minors. The figure had been about 6,000 in 1991, but after the arrival of the UN UNTAC troops, the numbers rose to 20,000 just in one year in 1992. 48% of the women and girls in brothels were abducted and sold there, and are often resold to other brothels or to traders who smuggle them out of the country, for example to Thailand and Vietnam.
  • Recently, there is a resurgence of prostitution and trafficking in women and girls all over China, involving a high percentage of children and minors. In some regions, Vietnamese, Burmese and Tibetan women have been trafficked. Shangchuando Island off Guandong is a tourist spot offering drugs and sex casinos with large number of women in prostitution from all over China. There are more than 70 million unmarried men in China as a consequence of the son preference of Chinese families. Many are desperately seeking wives from Vietnam though marriage arrangements are difficult. Through trickery, women are allured and trafficked according to the study of Le Thi Quy.
  • In HONG KONG, fake contracts, often for domestic work, land women in brothels that employ Chinese minders to prevent runaways. An influx of East European women in high-priced clubs has been noted with a Russian Mafia said to be bringing women to Macao.
  • Forms of trafficking in India include: economic incentives offered to parents to part with their children, fake jobs or marriage promises, abductions. The promotion of tourism in Goa and Madurai, two of India's major beach holiday destinations, appears to be resulting in rising numbers of prostituted children.
  • In INDONESIA, localized bordello complexes, "localisas," are managed under local government regulations. Estimated financial turnover of sex industry is reported to be around US$4 billion.
  • JAPAN is the largest sex industry market for Asian women. The sex industry accounts for 1% of GNP and equals the country's defence budget. One "sex zone" in Tokyo, only 0.34 sq. km., has 3,500 sex "facilities"; strip theatres, peep shows, "soap-lands," "lovers' banks," porno shops, sex telephone clubs, karaoke bars, clubs, etc.
  • Forms of prostitution in KOREA include- escort and call girls, street prostitution, and from cafes, clubs, cabarets, show cases, massage parlours and beauty shops. Women suspected of prostitution can be confined in rehabilitation centres without due processes.
  • Around 5,000 Nepalese women and girls are trafficked to India yearly. Brokers especially in rural areas and even family members sell girls; husbands sometimes sell their wives to brothels. According to international social agencies, the flow of Nepalese girls into Indian brothels is probably the busiest slave traffic of its kind anywhere in the world.
  • In New Zealand, Majority of the prostituted women are Asians. In Auckland, of 4,000 prostituted women 800 are Thai, and 400 other Asian women. Channels include: false employment offers, sponsorship by boyfriends or fiances for residency; debt bondage is also used to keep women in prostitution. New Zealand is also used by traffickers of Thai women as a departure point for Japan, Australia and Cyprus.
  • In the Philippines, Government policies favour the export of entertainers and domestic helpers that put women at risk of sexual exploitation. Further, government approval of "R and R" privileges for the US navy sustains a system and infrastructure of military prostitution. Of the 200,000 or so street-children in the Philippines, about 60,000 sell their bodies. (Asia Week, February?, 1997).
  • In Sri Lanka, nearly 80% of labour migration is of women workers. Many job trainees in Korea and Japan have disappeared into underground labour markets, including prostitution.
  • In Taiwan, 40% of young prostitutes in the main red light district are aboriginal girls.
  • In Vietnam, trafficking happens through kidnapping for brothels, deceptive offers for jobs or tourist trips and marriage matchmaking with foreigners who sell and resell the women abroad. Organised tours of Taiwanese men come to buy Vietnamese brides.
  • Recently, Afghanistan is confronted with a significant trafficking problem, as recognised by the June 2002 "Declaration of the Essential Rights of Afghan Women," which highlighted trafficking victims in its first section. The following forms of trafficking are taking place: exploitation of prostitution (forced prostitution and prostitution of minors); forced labour; slavery and practices similar to slavery (abductions for forced marriage, marriage for debt relief, and exchange of women for dispute settlement); servitude (sexual servitude and domestic servitude); and, removal of organs. Afghanistan as a country of origin, transit, and destination.[v]
  • It is to be noted that while men are also trafficked world-wide, the issue of trafficked men is almost absent in various literature on trafficking. So far men are predominantly seen as "migrants" while women and children are typically seen as being "victims of trafficking" reflecting a strong gender bias in mainstream literature on trafficking.

PART: III     


Finally, a combination of short-, medium- and long-term strategies will constitute the most effective response to the problem in the Asia Pacific region. Examples of short-term action include targeting and prosecution of procurers and raising awareness in the communities from which women and children are drawn. In the medium term, mass media campaigns to change social norms and reduce consumer demand for trafficked individuals and products are appropriate. Typical long-term solutions include poverty alleviation and gender equalisation.

Regional Co-operation/Co-ordination in Combating Human Trafficking:

It seems also self evident to me that we have to devise multilateral responses to a problem that occurs throughout the entire region and is typically of a trans-national character. In this regard, it is indeed heartening to note that 9 countries have already ratified the Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children. Another 12 countries have at least signed it. I would like to encourage all countries in the region to sign and ratify this important Protocol as well as other United Nations instruments that address human trafficking and related issues such as forced labour, child labour or gender based discrimination, forced marriages, mail order brides etc. In addition I would like to draw your attention to the United Nations Recommended Principles and Guidelines on Human Rights and Human Trafficking and encourage you to take this useful document into account when devising and strengthening your national anti trafficking strategies.

National policies, laws and efforts need to be reviewed and synchronised with greater co­ordination, specifically addressing relevant issues in the contexts of

  • Prevention of trafficking;
  • Protection;
  • Repatriation; and
  • Reintegration of trafficked victims and regional cooperation for such efforts.

1. Prevention of Trafficking

1.1 Education

Education can provide individuals with the skills necessary to obtain well-paying jobs. It can also arm people with the knowledge and critical ability to make sensible decisions. Education can thus be seen as a primary means to reduce the occurrence of trafficking.

1.2 Family Law

Forced marriage and false adoption are known to be favored methods of traffickers.

1.3 Labor Law

Many women and children are trafficked illegally to another country because they want to earn a living but they are not allowed to work legally in that other country, even though there is a demand for their labor there. If such women and children fill that demand illegally, they may not receive the benefit of any labor laws protecting employees' rights.

1.4 Social Security

A good social welfare system that provides sufficient assistance in case of loss income due to sickness, retirement, unemployment or death may lessen the pressure on potential victims to turn to traffickers for job opportunities to maintain the victim's income stream in times of difficulty.

1.5 Public Health Services

Many women and children are lured into cross border trafficking to generate more income to cover their and their families' expenses, including those related to healthcare. Provision of free, quality medical services can reduce the need to seek employment abroad to cover these expenses.

1.6 Culture and Sports

Sports and cultural activities may partly prevent potential trafficked victims from being lured into a more exciting lifestyle in another country.

1.7 Decentralization of Power

Local government bodies should have a certain amount of discretion in formulating their plans for cultural and social development within their own localities and may be able to develop and implement social and economic plans that cater to the needs of their people as a means to help prevent local women and children from being trafficked to another country.

2. Protection of Trafficked Victims

2.1 Civil Liability

Labor or marriage contracts entered into due to fraud, duress, mistake or threat should be consistently void or voidable under the laws of all countries.

2.2 Criminal Liability

The criminal law of each country in the Region should be applied even if the offense is committed outside its borders provided that the offender is a citizen or resident of such country. Most of all countries have restrictions, however, on such extraterritorial application of their criminal laws (e.g., need for an international treaty, minimum prison term or request from the government of the country where the crime occurred).

2.3 Criminal Procedures

"Victim/child-sensitive" procedures (such as allowing a psychologist or social worker to be present during the taking of the statement of a child or arranging to have a video or audio recording of the statement of a child to be used later as evidence) as well as other procedures used in trafficking cases (such as granting leniency to foreign trafficked victims).

2.4 Immigration

The immigration laws of the countries in the region should expressly provide relaxation or exemption from penalty for trafficked men, women and children who may have illegally entered the country.

2.5 Labor

Forced labor should be consistently prohibited specifying punishment for violation of forced labor provisions.

3.  Repatriation of Trafficked Victims

3.1  Nationality

Trafficked women may not want to be repatriated to the country of which they are citizens, especially where their children are born in a different country and therefore may have acquired another nationality. Such children may not be familiar with the country of their parent's nationality or the national language.

3.2 Repatriation Procedures       

Specific provisions concerning procedures for repatriation of trafficked victims, which should broadly prescribe that the repatriation of trafficked victims shall be in accordance with the relevant agreement or treaty. There is currently no Asia Pacific Regional agreement or treaty with respect to the repatriation of trafficked victims.

4. Reintegration of Trafficked Victims

4.1 Public Health Services

Since many rescued trafficked women and children suffer from sexually transmitted diseases (including HIV/AIDS) and/or addiction to narcotics, provision of free, quality medical services and rehabilitation to these trafficked victims can smooth their reintegration process.

4.2 Provision of Assistance

Since many trafficked women and children may not be quite ready to live in their homes upon repatriation, there should be alternative places where they can stay and be rehabilitated (both physically and mentally) as well as learn new trades as part of the reintegration process.

5. Specific Regional Cooperation in Prevention of Trafficking and Protection, Repatriation and Reintegration of Trafficked Victims

5.1 Extradition

Consistent extradition laws and treaties.

5.2 Mutual Assistance in Criminal Matters

Regional treaties governing mutual assistance in criminal matters and procedures for cooperation between countries in the execution of penal sentences. Countries should also execute bilateral agreements concerning cooperation in combating certain crimes including trafficking in women and children.

To conclude my presentation today, I would like to sum up my three key recommendations:

First, I would like all participating Governments to acknowledge human trafficking as a human rights problems that requires international cooperation by signing and ratifying the Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children.

Secondly, I would like to urge you to expand our knowledge by jointly sponsoring a comprehensive study on trafficking in Asia that also looks at effective long term solutions.

Thirdly, I would like to encourage you to strengthen or newly create national, sub-regional and regional anti trafficking programmes that are human rights sensitive and take into account international best practices such as those embodied in the United Nations Recommended Principles and Guidelines on Human Trafficking and Human Rights.


[i] "Trafficking refers to the recruitment, transportation, purchase, sale, transfer, harbouring, or receipt of persons: by threat, use of violence, abduction, use of force, fraud, deception, or coercion (including abuse of authority), or debt bondage, for the purpose of placing or holding such person, whether for pay or not, in forced labour or slavery-like practices, in a community other than the one in which such person lived at the time of the original act described." (UNCHR, February 2000).

[ii] On October 29, 2004, the six Governments of the Greater Mekong Sub-region agreed on a historic COMMIT Memorandum of Understanding on co-operation against human trafficking. The MOD recognises the special vulnerability of women and children to trafficking; encapsulates the importance of a Victim-centred' approach that stems from an understanding of human trafficking as a violation of human rights; and realises that marginalised populations have special vulnerabilities that must be addressed. Specific emphasis laid by COMMIT include- among others- national and regional requirements as to systematise and institutionalise the legal and societal frameworks for victim identification and protection; field-based assessments on how legal procedures are actually implemented in practice and to specify which elements of law actually protect victims in a substantive way and which elements of law actually support effective prosecution of traffickers; standards of/for "successful" return in the context of cross-border repatriation; identifying necessary "risk" assessments as well as alternate approaches to "re-integration" or "return"; & minimum standards for victim-focused repatriation.

[iii] Global Report on Forced Labour In Asia: debt bondage, trafficking and state-imposed forced labour: Seventh Sustainable Development Conference, 8-10 December, 2004, Holiday Inn, Islamabad.

[iv] Source: Trafficking and Prostitution in Asia and the Pacific (CATW, 2005).

[v] Trafficking in Person: An Analysis of Afghanistan, Seventh Sustainable Development   Conference 8-10 December, 2004, Holiday Inn, Islamabad.