An event marking the Sixth Anti-Trafficking In Persons Day of Myanmar was held at Thingaha Hotel in Nay Pyi Taw yesterday morning, where Vice President U Henry Van Thio called for public participation in combating the trafficking in persons as the country is overwhelmed by grievances caused by the crime.
In his opening speech, the Vice President said the International Labour Organization (ILO) estimates that 20.9 million people are forced to provide labour every year all over the world. The 2016 announcement by United Nations Office for Drug and Crimes (UNODC) says that cases of trafficking in persons taking place all over the world brings in US Dollar 150 billion in profit every year, and out of these cases, 54% constitute sexual exploitation, 38% forced labour and 8% other forms of trafficking.
It also says that trafficking in persons where body organs are removed and sold off happen in 16 of the world’s countries. An analysis of trafficking in person cases reveals that 51% of the people involved in the cases are women, 20% girls, 8% boys and 21% men.
The Vice President said that according to the global report released on 19 July, 2018, it is found that Myanmar ranks the eighteenth in position among 167 countries; 575,000 people, which are approximately equivalent to 10% of the country’s population are living under modern slavery. The lists of types of modern slavery identified by the report include, apart from normal slavery, human smuggling, forced labour, slaves purchased with money, forced marriage and having the under-aged do work and selling them.
Like other developing countries of the world in Myanmar, due to such factors causing vulnerability to people as scarce job opportunities, low income and outbreak of natural disaster and flare-up of armed conflicts, trafficking in persons continue to happen, said the Vice President.
When trafficking cases in Myanmar are studied, it will be found that they are taking place in relation to and connection with market demands in countries inclusive of our neighbours. According to the 2017 data, it is found that in 73.34% of the cases people were trafficked into China, in 4.37%, they were trafficked into Thailand and in 0.29%, they were trafficked into Malaysia, 21.28% of the cases took place in the domicile. It is found that a majority of women who illegally migrate to neighbouring countries for jobs fall prey to the trafficking form of forced marriage. As a significant development in 2018, a new form of trafficking cases which is surrogacy pregnancy was exposed and action has been taken against such cases. In domestic trafficking cases, prostitution and labour exploitation are taking place in the main.
The Vice President said circumstances of trafficking cases in Myanmar show that forced labour, forced marriage, sexual exploitation, forced adoption and debt-bondage are taking place. According to the 2017 data, forced marriages constitute 60.1%, forced prostitution 17.2%, forced labour 20.9%, child trafficking 0.8% and debt-bondage 1%.
To combat these trafficking cases, such activities have been conducted as promulgation of the Anti-Trafficking In Persons Law, formation of the Central Body for Suppression and Prevention of Trafficking In Persons and formation of the Anti-Trafficking In Persons Division in the Myanmar Police Force. Moreover, five-year plans dedicated to combatting trafficking in persons have been drafted and are being implemented, he said.
In the horizon of the third five-year (2017-2021) plan, necessary activities are being conducted to revise and approve the 2005 Anti-Trafficking In Persons Law. Moreover, in order to draft a National Referral Mechanism providing direct support to victims of trafficking, draft a National Standard Operating Procedure for repatriation, reintegration and rehabilitation of victims of trafficking, gear up implementation or preventive measures, raise awareness about safe migrations, improve efficiency of Criminal Justice System, draft National Standard for identification of victims of trafficking and increase the number of shelters for victims of trafficking, necessary activities in the key sectors will be systematically undertaken.
When it comes to challenges in relation to trafficking in persons in Myanmar, such challenges are being faced such as difficulties in arresting offenders hiding in foreign countries, difficulties in arresting offenders hiding in foreign countries, difficulties in conducting timely rescues of victims of trafficking who are abroad and a need for creating more concrete job opportuntities. In 2018, the book on cooperation guidelines between Station Police and Anti-Trafficking In Person Task Force Police and the book on victim-centred approach and victims of trafficking identification process were distributed to police officers across the country. Moreover, the book on cooperation guidelines between Police and Law Officers over trafficking in persons cases was distributed, too. ASEAN Convention against Trafficking In Persons, Especially Women and Children has been rectified. Bilateral Standard Operating Procedures between Myanmar and Thailand on repatriation and reintegration of victims of trafficking has also been signed.
The Vice President said Memoranda of Understanding (MoUs) between Myanmar and Thailand, and Myanmar and China were signed in 2009. At present, activities are under way to revise the MoU between Myanmar and Thailand. Besides, activities are also under way to sign an MoU between Myanmar and India. As for bilateral meetings, bilateral meetings with China, Royal Thai Police and Department of Special Investigation of Thailand have been held.
He said many challenges are being faced in our endeavours to prevent trafficking in persons. Especially, developing countries of the ASEAN Region are bearing the brunt of these challenges. Therefore, it is necessary for source, destination and transit countries to craft and implement special plans to conduct prevention activities.
Likewise, it is important for source countries to improve their economic, social and political conditions. In order to combat trafficking in persons, it is necessary to cooperate on development of other sectors.
As regards Myanmar’s combative actions against trafficking in person since the observation of the Fifth Anti-Trafficking In Persons Day, 201 trafficking in person cases have been exposed, and a total of 250 victims of trafficking comprising 32 males and 218 females have been identified. 142 cases have been prosecuted and actions have been taken against a total of 366 offenders comprising 106 males and 260 females. In dealing with trafficking in person cases, efforts are also being made to take actions against money and assets arising from the crimes under Anti-Money Laundry Law in order to augment our combative power.
Despite different legal systems among countries, the same level of protection must be provided to victims of trafficking. Even though a dedicated fund to provide support and assistances for victims of trafficking cannot yet be established, supports and assistances are being rendered to them. In the 2017-2018 fiscal year, a total of 175 victims of trafficking comprising 6 males and 169 females were provided with cash amounting to MMK 19,748,000 (Myanmar Kyats Nineteen Million, Seven Hundred and Forty-Eight Thousand Only).
Concluding his speech, the Vice President expressed his thanks to government departments, the UN, INGOs, NGOs, embassies, foreign and domestic donors, artistes of various artistic professions, media and all the guests present at the occasion —all of who have been giving cooperation from various aspects in respective sectors. The Vice President said that as Myanmar is a source country and overwhelmed by grievances arising from trafficking in persons, only with collective strength produced from the participation of the entire public will trafficking in persons be combated. He cited the motto of Anti-Trafficking In Persons for this year “The entire public needs to participate, Trafficking in persons to eliminate…”. Afterwards, a video documenting anti-trafficking operation conducted in Myanmar was shown and the event was then concluded.
The Vice President then took a documentary photo with the participants and then toured the anti-trafficking related photo exhibition at the hall. Attending the event were Union Ministers Lt-Gen Kyaw Swe, Lt-Gen Sein Win, Dr. Pe Myint, U Thant Sin Maung, U Thein Swe, Dr. Myint Htwe, Dr. Win Myat Aye, and Dr. Myo Thein Gyi, Union Attorney-General U Tun Tun Oo, Deputy Minister Maj-Gen Aung Thu, permanent secretaries, department heads, representatives from embassies, UN organizations, members of the Central Body for Suppression and Prevention of Trafficking In Persons, civil society organizations and other invited guests.