2011 Trafficking in Persons
June 27, 2011
Human trafficking is the dehumanizing practice of holding another person in compelled service using whatever means necessary, be it physical or psychological. According to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, human trafficking is nothing less than “modern slavery.”
Human trafficking is fluid, responding to market demands, vulnerabilities in laws, corruption, weak penalties, natural disasters, and economic instability. It is a crime akin to murder, rape and kidnapping. And this crime is not limited to one gender, ethnicity, or geographical area, but impacts individuals and societies around the world, including the Lao P.D.R.
To help combat this problem, the U.S. Department of State compiles the annual Trafficking in Persons (TIP) Report. The TIP Report looks at data from 175 countries and is the most comprehensive worldwide report on the efforts of governments to combat severe forms of trafficking in persons. The annual report serves as the primary diplomatic tool through which the U.S. Government encourages partnership and increased determination in the fight against forced labor, sexual exploitation, and modern-day slavery. The 2011 Report was issued on June 27, and is available to read here: http://www.state.gov/g/tip/rls/tiprpt/2011/index.htm
As this year’s report shows, Laos remains a source, and to a much lesser extent, a transit and destination country for women and girls subjected to sex trafficking, and men, women, and children in conditions of forced labor in factory work, domestic labor, agriculture, and the fishing industry. However, the Lao Government is making significant efforts to combat these problems. There were 33 prosecutions of traffickers and 20 trafficking investigations during the period covered. The government has also begun to identify and assist trafficking victims. We commend the government for these strong efforts and are pleased to report that the 2011 TIP report notes these improvements in its rankings.
But we also recognize that more must be done. Going forward, we urge the Lao government to continue to address the problem of human trafficking utilizing the three pronged response of Prosecution, Protection and Prevention. We urge the Lao government to increase efforts to investigate and prosecute both sex and labor trafficking offenders, including prosecuting officials who are complicit in trafficking. We recommend the government do more to protect victims by creating formal victim identification procedures and increasing resources to support victims in reintegration after returning to their home communities. Finally, in terms of prevention, we urge the government to speed up approval for anti-trafficking projects; implement and support a visible anti-trafficking awareness campaign directed at clients of the sex trade; and increase collaboration with international organizations and civil society to build capacity to combat trafficking in persons.
It is true that no country, including the United States, has attained a truly comprehensive response to this massive, ever-increasing, ever-changing crime. Accordingly, in 2010, for the first time, the U.S. was included in the TIP Report, demonstrating that no country can claim immunity from the scourge of human rights abuses, or from the responsibility to confront them.
The only way to defeat this problem that confronts us all is to face it together. The U.S. stands with the government of the Lao P.D.R. and those throughout the world who are working every day to end modern slavery, bring traffickers to justice, and empower survivors to reclaim their rightful freedom.