Search

 

Cablegate: Eighth Annual Tip Report for Laos

VZCZCXYZ0645
PP RUEHWEB

DE RUEHVN #0145/01 0600544
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 290544Z FEB 08
FM AMEMBASSY VIENTIANE
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 1866
INFO RUCNASE/ASEAN MEMBER COLLECTIVE
RUEAWJA/DEPT OF JUSTICE WASHDC
RHEFHLC/DEPT OF HOMELAND SECURITY WASHDC
RUEATRS/DEPT OF TREASURY WASHDC
RUEHC/DEPT OF LABOR WASHDC
RUEHBJ/AMEMBASSY BEIJING 2266

UNCLAS VIENTIANE 000145

SIPDIS

STATE ALSO PASS TO USAID

SENSITIVE

SIPDIS

DEPT FOR EAP/MLS
DEPT FOR EAP/RSP
DEPT FOR G
DEPT FOR G/TIP

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: KCRM PHUM KWMN ELAB SMIG ASEC PREF KFRD PREL LA
SUBJECT: EIGHTH ANNUAL TIP REPORT FOR LAOS

REF: STATE 2731

-------
SUMMARY
-------

1. (SBU) Laos is overwhelmingly a sending country for trafficking,
although on a small scale it is also a receiving country, with some
domestic trafficking victims in the commercial sex trade. The vast
majority of Lao who seek work abroad, including those who are
victims of trafficking, go to Thailand, where cultural and
linguistic similarities and an abundance of work opportunities help
ensure Lao can find ready employment. Laos' trafficking problem is
largely a matter of economics: Laos is among the poorest countries
in Asia, and its poverty and abundance of unemployed or
underemployed youth provide a steady stream of laborers to Thailand.


2. (SBU) The Government of Laos (GOL) has put trafficking high on
its agenda in the last year, with statements at the highest levels -
including the Deputy Prime Minister/ Minister of National Defense -
calling for increased public awareness and protection for victims.
In 2007, the GOL began an intense focus on preventing the
trafficking and exploitation of children, primarily through public
awareness campaigns and statements by senior leaders. Efforts to
address internal trafficking seem to be increasing, with ongoing
investigations; mentions of the problem in the government-controlled
press; statements by senior leaders, including the Deputy Prime
Minister; and referral of domestic victims of trafficking,
proactively identified by local authorities, to a shelter run by the
Lao Women's Union (LWU). Victims of internal trafficking are almost
exclusively in the commercial sex trade; post has seen no evidence
of forced labor within Laos during the reporting period.

3. (SBU) Civil servants' salaries are low (usually $35-$60 per
month)and corruption is rampant. GOL officials are susceptible to
involvement in trafficking in persons, trafficking of narcotics and
wildlife, illegal logging, and other money-making schemes. However,
post has no reports of particular cases of trafficking with the
involvement of GOL officials. Although the GOL has a number of
well-written laws on the books, has signed important international
agreements on the issue, and is drafting comprehensive plans to
combat trafficking, it continues to suffer from an extremely low
level of capacity in training, knowledge, and resources to
effectively prevent, prosecute, or protect victims. The GOL is
increasingly open to assistance from international organizations and
NGOs to help fill some of those gaps.

4. (SBU) Lao police are by-and-large unskilled in investigations and
unknowledgeable about trafficking crimes. Working closely with
international and non-governmental organizations, the GOL is
attempting to remedy the situation with training classes for police
and law enforcement officers, investigators and prosecutors, customs
and border officials, transport and construction ministry officials,
tourism leaders, journalists, and representatives of just about
every other segment of society that time and resources allow it to
reach. However, corruption within the Lao police and court systems
has made it relatively easy for traffickers to avoid prosecution. In
addition, Lao society is not used to working out problems through
the legal system, preferring to use arbitration and mediation
through respected village leaders. With only 80 members in the Lao
Bar Association, half of whom do not have formal legal training,
convincing victims to bring their cases to the authorities for
formal prosecution continues to be a challenge. (Note: Most
prosecutors and judges are not members of the bar. Usually, bar
members are academics or in some form of private practice. Neither
formal legal training nor LBA membership is required to practice law
in Laos. End note.)

5. (SBU) The penal code was amended in 2006 to include a specific
definition of trafficking and the penalties commensurate with the
crime (Article 134). However, passage of the law is only the first
step in enforcement, as the legal community and NGOs work to train
officials to apply the new code. As a result, according to the
Ministry of Public Security, police investigated 38 cases of Article
134 violations (human trafficking) in 2007, resulting in 23 arrests
and 8 cases sent for prosecution. Those 8 cases remain in the court
system, with another 20 ongoing investigations. (Note: Unlike
previous years, post is not reporting trafficking-related
prosecutions; as per instructions, we are including only those cases
falling specifically under Article 134 of the criminal code for
trafficking in persons. End note

6. (SBU) Most migrants from Laos make their own way to Thailand.
Those that fall victim to traffickers usually do so once they find
employment, but others can fall prey to traffickers as they seek
assistance from middlemen either to cross the border or to arrange
onward employment. Many, if not most, of these migrants go to
Thailand knowing the risks but attracted by wages that are far
higher than at home. Based on studies of Lao seeking employment in
Thailand, most who make the trip are not the poorest, who lack the
means to go, but are relatively well-off farmers or their children
who live close to the Mekong and have a familiarity with Thailand.
Lao workers in Thailand undoubtedly face many difficulties, as many
returnees relate, but many find the rewards worth the risks and
remain in Thailand for years. Many of those repatriated to Laos
eventually return to Thailand to seek employment again. NGOs have
recently expressed concern about a study showing that as many as 50%
of formally-identified trafficking victims, all of whom have
received some kind of assistance and protection, have returned to
Thailand. In a more disturbing development, those victims appear to
be acting as "magnets," taking others from their local villages back
across the border with them on the assumption that, having been
through a bad situation once, they are now the authorities on how to
avoid repeating their mistakes. All of these trends bear watching.

---------------------
TIP REPORT RESPONSES
---------------------

7. (SBU) Hereafter paragraphs are keyed to the paragraphs and
questions in reftel, with the paragraph numbers from reftel given in
roman numerals. The entire text of the 2008 TIP report for Laos is
sensitive but unclassified (SBU).

XXVII. Overview of Country's Activities to Eliminate
Trafficking in Persons

A and B. Laos is almost exclusively a source country, with the vast
majority of those trafficked going to Thailand. Because of the
country's extreme poverty and poor wages, few traffickers see Laos
as a destination for their victims. (Lao factory workers earn
between $49-$100 per month, while the minimum wage in Thailand is
roughly $150 per month.) Laos also serves as a transit country in a
small number of cases, although the potential for further transit
grows as road construction and infrastructure projects accelerate,
linking China, Vietnam, Thailand and Cambodia through Laos. Although
much smaller in scope, internal trafficking is also a problem,
almost exclusively with young women and girls falling victim to the
commercial sex trade in urban areas. Post has seen no evidence of
forced labor in Laos during the reporting period.

The World Bank in 2006 estimated that there are at least 250,000 Lao
workers employed in Thailand, of whom 80,000 are unregistered
according to the Thai Ministry of Labour. The Lao Ministry of Labor
and Social Welfare puts the number of Lao workers in Thailand at
150,000, noting that most are there illegally. There are no
generally accepted figures on how many of these persons are actually
trafficked. Although some of these Lao are trafficked to Thailand,
the large majority go to Thailand on their own, following the advice
of friends and relatives. Others use the services of middlemen to
help them locate work in Thailand. The majority of migrant laborers,
and presumably the majority of trafficking victims, originate from
central and southern Lao provinces and Vientiane Municipality. The
groups most vulnerable to the worst forms of trafficking are minors,
especially girls, and highland minorities from Laos' interior. While
the UN Interagency Project on People Trafficking (UNIAP) believes
the number of minorities trafficked to Thailand is small, minorities
are far more vulnerable to exploitation than are lowland Lao because
of their lack of Thai language skills and overall unfamiliarity with
Thai society. UNIAP studies show that the majority of
formally-identified victims of trafficking are girls between the
ages of 12-18, from rural but not remote or extremely poor areas,
belonging to the lowland Lao or Tai ethnic group (approx. 66% of the
population), with some basic education. A 2004 International Office
of Migration (IOM) study adds that most were employed in domestic
labor and factory work (only 6 of the 124 surveyed by IOM were
employed in the sex industry), and most had been deceived about the
conditions, but not the type, of work they went into. Other studies
suggest that one-third of trafficking victims were employed in the
sex industry.

In 2007, 280 formally-identified victims of cross-border human
trafficking were returned to Laos, bringing the total number of
victims repatriated to Laos from Thailand since 2001 to more than
1,044. An additional 21 were repatriated in January 2008. Staffing
problems in Thailand have delayed the February repatriation until
March 2008. Of those victims, 60% have been from the cities of
Vientiane or Savannakhet. Approximately 100 other victims are
currently residing in rehabilitation centers inside Thailand,
according to details provided by the Lao Ministry of Labor and
Social Welfare (MLSW). However, almost all Lao government agencies,
international organizations, and NGOs working in the trafficking
sector note that the vast majority of victims are not formally
identified. Most who return to Laos do so by crossing back and
returning to their villages or to larger urban centers, largely
without contact with authorities. IOM and Agir pour les Femmes en
Situation Precaire (AFESIP), a French NGO specializing in victims of
sexual exploitation, both note that victims generally prefer to
avoid Thai authorities and what is usually a stay of 5-8 months in
the shelter in Thailand. Male victims are rarely formally identified
or seek assistance.

UNICEF believes that there are four areas where Lao are most likely
to fall victim to exploitative conditions: the southern Thai fishing
industry (for men), prostitution, domestic labor, and factory work
(for women). Most Lao working illegally in Thailand do so in Bangkok
(especially in factories, domestic labor and prostitution), with a
smaller number working in the northeast (prostitution and migrant
farm labor).

Some Lao who seek work in Thailand fall victim to the worst forms of
trafficking; the majority of these victims are females, but males
are also victims, especially of exploitative labor. Most NGOs
believe the majority of trafficked persons become victims once they
reach their destinations, particularly at their places of
employment, rather than during the migration process itself.
According to information from NGOs, the government, or in the
literature reviewed here, there are no cases of kidnapping, very few
cases reported of the "sale" of minors by parents or other figures
to traffickers, and little occurrence of pressure to migrate from
parents.

The prevailing people-smuggling mode in Laos remains transportation
to a job in exchange for payment up front. Lao people in lowland
areas are anxious to obtain work abroad and are willing to pay
smugglers and traffickers to assist them in seeking work, especially
in neighboring Thailand. However, a report by Voice of America on
February 2, 2008, stated that one trafficking "gang" in Laos has
recently changed its methods in response to greater efforts to
combat trafficking by Vientiane authorities. According to the
report, the "gang" is attempting to build relationships with parents
in target villages and convince them to send their children to work
for them in purportedly legitimate jobs. Generally smugglers and
traffickers fit no particular profile. Aside from the Thai employers
who traffic the victims when they reach their destination, most
cross-border traffickers are probably Lao nationals with experience
in assisting cross-border labor movement. There are likely also some
Thai traffickers operating in Laos intermittently. Some recruiters
and smugglers of people are helping fellow villagers, even family
members, to migrate, while others probably make trafficking a
full-time business.

IOM's 2004 study of trafficking between Laos and Thailand found that
nearly one-third of Lao trafficking victims had family members in
Thailand, suggesting this may have been a factor in their decision
to seek work there. Most of those trafficked traveled with a small
group of friends or relatives. Brokers' fees varied widely, from as
little as 500 baht (about $14) to as much as 30,000 baht ($880). The
majority, however, paid between 2,500-7,000 baht ($75-$205) in
broker fees, if they used one.

According to Norwegian Church Aid, many migrants borrow money from
"those who transport them" or from neighbors to finance the travel.
This suggests a vulnerability from indebtedness that can lead to
subsequent exploitation. Initially, migrants may go on their own or
be hired by agents, but many would try to help the migration of
friends or relatives once they had arrived at their destinations.
Young people would rather rely on informal networks of friends or
relatives than agents for transport, accommodation, and employment.
Younger children who do not have these networks, or travel without
informing their families, are those most likely to rely on agents or
solely on themselves, and are hence most at risk from traffickers.

One August 2006 study by the UN notes that adult men and boys are
more likely to be traveling with friends, to known destinations,
without "help" by middle-men. Conversely, women tended to be
younger, more likely to rely on agents which often involved
incurring debts, less likely to know where they were going, and more
likely to migrate alone or with only a few friends.

Most Lao learn of work opportunities in Thailand by word of mouth,
from those who have made the trip and returned, and in many cases
from friends and family members. In at least some cases,
particularly of young women involved in prostitution in Thailand,
the women themselves act as recruiters for others when they return
to Laos to visit family and friends. An unpublished 2007 IOM study
indicates a new and disturbing trend: approximately 50% of
formally-identified trafficking victims, who have received
assistance to reintegrate into their communities in Laos and formal
protection from the authorities, returned across the border seeking
work in Thailand. Furthermore, they apparently acted as "magnets"
for their peers, perhaps with the assumption that, having fallen
victim once, they are now in a better position to avoid those
situations and help others do the same. The Director of the LWU
shelter confirmed this trend, noting that, even after counseling and
vocational training, many victims still cannot find employment in
Laos and choose to return to Thailand.

False documents have sometimes been used to transport people from
Laos to other countries but have not been needed to enter Thailand.
Border crossing cards are easily obtainable; they are only valid for
a few days' travel and only for specific Thai provinces, but once
across the border the holders easily ignore these restrictions. Many
Lao entered Thailand without documentation, usually crossing the
Mekong River by boat or traveling across an unmonitored land border.


The Lao and Thai governments signed an anti-trafficking MOU in
mid-2005 that established a framework for cooperation between the
two governments. A Lao-Thai Joint Action Plan to Combat Human
Trafficking was completed in late 2006. IOM has been a key
supporter of Lao-Thai efforts to implement all elements of the MOU.
The February 27, 2007, signing of an MOU between the GOL and IOM has
allowed IOM to establish a presence in Laos and to work more closely
with the GOL on implementation.

C. Laos is a member of the Coordinated Mekong Ministerial Initiative
Against Trafficking (COMMIT) process, established in 2004, and under
COMMIT the GOL has established a Ministerial-level National Steering
Committee on Trafficking with members chaired by a Deputy Prime
Minister who is concurrently the Minister of National Defense. The
Secretariat of that organization is presided over by the Director of

SIPDIS
Investigations, Ministry of Public Security (MOPS). The MLSW has the
lead in trafficking prevention, as well as victim's assistance and
reintegration. MOPS has the lead on investigations and arrests,
while the Ministry of Justice (MOJ) and the Public Prosecutor's
Office manage the criminal process. The LWU, a broad-based mass
organization, has been involved in anti-trafficking efforts since
the mid-1990s. The LWU has been active, within its limited means in
protection and prevention work and currently runs a shelter in
Vientiane for victims of domestic abuse, sexual exploitation, and
human trafficking. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) chairs a
regular meeting with all relevant GOL offices and all the NGOs and
international organization in the sector to coordinate activities,
in addition to facilitating meetings with counterparts in Thailand,
Cambodia, Vietnam, and China on regional trafficking matters. All of
the GOL agencies listed above are represented on the Ministerial
Steering Committee. The Lao Youth Union, Federation of Trade Unions,
and Ministry of Education also play roles in educating potential
trafficking victims. Public awareness campaigns and journalism
training - both of which have received significant attention in the

reporting period - are run with the assistance of the Ministry of
Information and Culture, which controls the Lao media.

D. Lack of resources is the biggest impediment to the
government's ability to address trafficking problems. The GOL is
largely dependent on the donor community to fund anti-trafficking
activities, just as it depends on international donors to fund
activities in almost every sector. Post notes that 70% of the
government's capital budget comes from official development
assistance. There are only about 10,000 police officers in a
country of 6 million people. The LWU Shelter is funded mostly from
international or NGO assistance, and the GOL depends on IOM and
AFESIP to further provide long-term assistance for immediate needs
and reintegration. The GOL does fund the transit center, where a
victim remains for approximately one week while authorities conduct
family and victim assessments to determine if the victim wants to
return home or move to another shelter.

Corruption is another serious problem: it is endemic in Laos,
particularly in law enforcement where salaries are minimal. Poor
human resources pose yet another problem. Few Lao officials have
the knowledge base or skills to carry out their jobs at
international standards. The higher level of development in
Thailand, the long and porous border between Laos and Thailand, and
the corruption of Lao border officials make controlling cross-border
trafficking extremely difficult.

A weak judicial sector and the population's general reluctance to
use the court system make it difficult to investigate charges of
both internal and cross-border trafficking. For example, the Lao Bar
Association (LBA) has only 82 members, and half of them are without
formal legal training. Legal aid clinics in and outside of
Vientiane, begun in June 2007 with funding from The Asia Foundation,
have made a little headway in raising awareness about the role of
lawyers in protecting society; moreover the LBA still does not have
the resources to handle the few cases that are brought to its
attention. Through the aid clinic program, the Bar Association is
currently working on one case for a victim of internal trafficking
and one of cross-border trafficking. Neither case has been referred
to the police yet. The legal aid clinic, although small, is a
promising avenue for victims of internal trafficking, since they
need assistance in navigating the legal procedures to bring their
traffickers to justice. Rather than resorting to the formal legal
system, most Lao, of all ethnicities, prefer to rely on village
mediation and respected local authorities to settle disputes. Many
victims of trafficking likely do not understand what resources are
available to them in the judicial sector, even if the local
officials in their areas have received training on human trafficking
investigation and enforcement procedures.

The Lao-Thai border is extremely porous, and Lao going to Thailand
can easily avoid official scrutiny. Post has not received any
specific reports of actual trafficking cases involving government
complicity or particular officials colluding in human trafficking
during the reporting period, from NGOs or other sources, but the
poor salaries and general levels of corruption make such involvement
likely.

Many donors believe that resources for anti-trafficking should be
focused on education and reintegration rather than on law
enforcement. Laos is only beginning to develop rule of law; the
justice system is inefficient; and poor conditions in the penal
system have raised serious human rights concerns in the
international community. Given the nature of the Lao regime, calls
for more police powers are inimical to USG political values, and
pressure for heightened levels of police activity must be very
carefully considered. In the meantime, international efforts to
bring professional skills and capacity to the investigation and
prosecution efforts continue. The UN Office for Drug Control and
Crime (UNODC) and the Asia Regional Trafficking in Persons Project
(ARTIP), an Australian effort, run local and regional training
programs with MOPS, MOJ, and Public Prosecutors offices. So far
several hundred Lao law enforcement officials have received some
form of training on combating human trafficking from March
2007-February 2008.

The Prime Minister issued an order in December 2005 to stop the
practice of fining or otherwise penalizing returnees from Thailand.
Training for immigration officials followed issuance of the order.
As of January 2007, the Lao government stopped requiring exit
permits for Lao to travel abroad, which further reduced the practice
of penalizing illegal migrants upon return. The instructions against
fining, and the removal of the legal basis for those fines (failure
to procure exit permits) have apparently been effective in reducing
the financial penalties faced by trafficking victims.

However, NGOs warn that this "special treatment" - i.e. assistance
in returning home, vocational training, etc. - is perceived as an
advantage by illegal migrants who are not identified as trafficking
victims. In small villages where everyone knows everyone else, this
makes it impossible to protect the privacy of the victims and makes
trafficking appear to convey some tangible advantages on its
victims. (Comment: Several NGOs in Laos have raised their concerns
about the increased attention on reintegration and assistance for
victims for just this reason.)

The Government is studying the patterns of trafficking, assistance
delivery, and reintegration to find better ways to assist victims of
trafficking. AFESIP, an NGO with a focus on rehabilitation for sex
workers, assists the MLSW with family assessment for victims at the
transit shelter before they are returned to their homes. After a
week at the transit shelter, run by the MLSW, victims may ask to
either go home or receive additional counseling and assistance. The
majority request to return home, having just spent 5-8 months, or up
to a year, in shelters in Thailand. The remainder are referred to
the LWU shelter or the AFESIP shelter, where they receive counseling
and vocational training for anywhere from 14 days to 6 months. The
LWU shelter in Vientiane assisted 48 victims in 2007 and is housing
40 victims as of February 2008, its maximum capacity. The Director
estimates that one-third are trafficking victims, almost all of them
trafficked within Laos. The remaining 2/3s are victims of domestic
violence or sexual assault. The AFESIP shelter has assisted 20
victims in their shelter as long-term residents in 2007, is
currently housing 19 victims as residents. It has assisted another
46 victims with vocational training and employment services through
their social enterprise project (essentially beauty shop training).
Both LWU and AFESIP try to place former victims with employers, if
the victims do not wish to return home, and follow up on a regular
basis.

AFESIP broke ground on a new shelter in Savannakhet Province in
October 2007, on land donated by the MLSW, intended to increase
capacity and bring its counseling and vocational training services
closer to the victims and their families - most of whom are from
southern Laos. AFESIP will also construct a transit shelter for the
MLSW on the same site, doubling the MLSW's overall capacity and
providing a second site closer to another trafficking hotspot. The
shelters are scheduled to open by the end of 2008.

E. Statistics in Laos are notoriously unreliable and difficult to
find. However, the GOL understands that international assistance and
monitoring require that the GOL collects more information to better
understand the trafficking situation and evaluate new programs. The
MLSW, for example, completed a study of 250 child victims in 2007,
looking at their homes, trafficking routes, jobs, health, and
education. As part of the COMMIT process, MOPS is collecting data -
and sharing it with the international community - on trafficking
arrests and investigations under the new Article 134 of the penal
code. The LWU and MLSW keep track of the numbers of victims in the
transit shelter and LWU shelter. The GOL has signed Memoranda of
Understanding (MOUs) with IOM, World Vision, AFESIP and others to
work on programs to protect victims, and usually gathers data on
trafficking patterns and the victims as part of the work of these
NGOs. In July 2007, Government-controlled Lao media published a
study on the impact of a trafficking awareness campaign, noting for
example that 71% of young people had heard the term "human
trafficking" and that the majority had heard it from the media. The
National Plan of Action, drafted with the assistance of the
international community, is the first in the region with specific
metrics for evaluation. However, the Plan has not yet been approved
by the Prime Minister.

XXVIII: Investigation and Prosecution of Traffickers

A, B, and C. Laos has a law specifically prohibiting human
trafficking, for both sexual and non-sexual purposes.

In 2006, Laos enacted the revised Article 134 of the penal code.
While other laws passed earlier appear to have criminalized human
trafficking, representatives of the Ministry of Public Security told
Emboff that, without a penal code article, it has been virtually
impossible to prosecute a trafficker under specific human
trafficking provisions in other laws.

Begin Text:
Article 134: Human Trafficking
Human trafficking is the seeking, concealing, transporting or taking
of people within or from other countries by means of deception
fraud, threats/intimidation, duress, financial constraints or other
means for the purpose of labor exploitation, prostitution,
dissemination of pornographic material, or other purposes contrary
to national culture, removal of body organs for the purpose of
making illegal gains.

The above mentioned actions performed on minors/children under 18
years of age will be considered as human trafficking even in the
absence of deception or fraud, intimidation, duress or financial
constraints.

Any person performing infractions in the category of human
trafficking shall be punished by privation of liberty for a period
of five to fifteen years and shall be fined an amount of 10.000.000
to 100.000.000 Kip [note: USD 1086 to 10,860) and shall have their
assets confiscated according to Article 32 of this law.

In the case with infractions performed habitually, performed as an
organized group, the victim is a child/minor, the victim is two or
more people, the perpetrator is a close relative, or the victim is
seriously injured, is physically maimed or has lost mental faculties
the perpetrator performing the infraction in the category of human
trafficking shall be punished by privation of liberty for a period
of fifteen to twenty years and shall be fined an amount of
100.000.000 to 500.000.000 Kip (note: USD 10,860 to 54,300) and
shall have their assets confiscated according to Article 32 of this
law.

In the case where the offence results in the victim being
permanently disabled, contracts AIDS or results in the loss life,
the perpetrator as a human trafficker shall be punished by privation
of liberty for life imprisonment and shall be fined an amount of
500.000.000 to 1.000.000.000 Kip (USD 54,300 to 108,695)and shall
have their assets confiscated according to Article 32 of this law or
shall be executed/sentenced to death.

When the offence is in the category of trafficking women or children
the law on the Promotion/Development and Protection of women can be
applied.

Preparation to commit, attempt such infractions shall be punished.

End Text.

As noted, the Law on Women, passed by the National Assembly in
September 2004, contains provisions dealing with trafficking
including sections defining the rights of trafficking victims, in
addition to the same penalties and definitions of human trafficking
that were later included in penal code Article 134. Those specific
provisions on victims' rights and protections are listed below. Note
that Article 28 includes paragraphs requiring that Lao government
officials at embassies and consulates abroad assist Lao victims, and
Lao government agencies in Laos assist foreign victims. Both are
charged with working with foreign countries to assist in
prosecutions.

Begin text of Lao Law on Development and Protection of Women:

Article 25. Rights of Victims
A victim means a person who has suffered from trafficking in women
and children. Victims have the following rights:

1. To ask for assistance from any individual who is nearby;
2. To notify police officers;
3. To testify and present evidence relating to the case, to
concerned officers;
4. To request for compensation, to be rehabilitated and to be
reintegrated into the society;
5. To receive protection and care to ensure personal safety;
6. Not to be prosecuted and detained on any charge of trafficking in
women and children, prostitution, [or] illegal immigration;
7. Not to be photographed, [and] not to have any video recorded or
broadcast, where such would affect personal honour;
8. To receive suitable assistance in the form of shelter, food,
clothes, medical services, vocational training, repatriation and
others;
9. To have other rights according to laws and regulations.

Article 26. Duties of Society
Individuals or organisations that discover victims of trafficking in
women and children or receive data or information concerning such
trafficking shall report to the village administration, the police
or other concerned authorities, and shall, at the same time, give
assistance to victims. Party and State organisations, the Lao Front
for National Construction, mass organisations, social organisations
and families shall disseminate information and educate so that the
whole society becomes aware of the acts and impact of trafficking in
women and children in order that women and children stay vigilant
and not fall victim to such trafficking and be active in combating
and preventing [such trafficking].
To combat and prevent trafficking in women and children, the
government establishes a national committee for prevention of
trafficking in humans.

Article 28. Assistance by Officers to Victims
During the process, police officers must cooperate with concerned
counterparts such as doctors, social workers and other parties in
order to give necessary and urgent assistance, to provide medical
treatment and counseling services to the victims and to send them to
safe shelter. In the case where the victims are children, there
shall be special treatment to restore [their] physical and mental
health and to provide assistance to [meet] the specific needs of the
children, in order to ensure that those children have guardians and
to help them to return to their family and society.

In the case of victims abroad who are Lao citizens, the concerned
Lao embassy or consulate shall give necessary and urgent assistance
to the victims, especially safety and social welfare, and shall
co-operate with concerned officials of that country in order to
prosecute offenders, and the victims shall be repatriated
thereafter.

In the case of victims in the Lao PDR who are citizens of foreign
countries, in addition to implementing the third paragraph mentioned
above, Lao officials shall cooperate with the embassy or consulate
of the victim's country in the Lao PDR through the Ministry of
Foreign Affairs in order to repatriate the victims.

End text.

The Law on the Protection of Children's Rights, enacted on December
27, 2006, echoes the definition and penalties for trafficking that
are in Article 134, further states in Article 89 that sexual
intercourse with a child under age 15 is against the law, and "Any
individual who offers, receive an offer, recruit or provide children
under 18 years old to serve as prostitute shall be imposed a fine is
deemed to have committed a crime and shall be imposed a punishment
by applying (new) Article 134 of the penal code."

These laws were vetted by NGOs, including those active in
anti-trafficking. A U.S. Deputy District Attorney working with the
Department of Justice's Overseas Prosecutorial Development
Assistance and Training (OPDAT) Program also vetted the draft of the
Law on Women, parts of which were later incorporated into penal code
Article 134. The Lao penal code also has provisions against
prostitution, procuring, kidnapping, and selling persons. There are
statutes forbidding coercion and depriving people of wages.

D. The penalty for rape or forcible sexual assault under the Lao
penal code, Article 119, is three to five years imprisonment.
Abduction is punishable under Article 92 by five to fifteen years
imprisonment. Rape of a minor is punishable by seven to 15 years,
prostitution by up to one year, and pimping by up to three years.
Some of these statutes have been used against traffickers prior to
the passage of Article 134. The legal age of consent in Laos is 15.


E. Prostitution is illegal in Laos but in practice is widespread,
and authorities have usually made few efforts to halt it. Both sex
workers and clients are usually Lao. Lao law prohibits foreigners
from engaging in sexual activity with Lao citizens outside of
marriage, and foreigners are fined regularly, or occasionally
arrested, under this law. The government periodically moves to shut
down establishments, such as bars, nightclubs and discos, where
prostitutes operate. For example, in October and November 2007,
police sought to shut down bars and entertainment venues with
prostitutes in the UNESCO world heritage city of Luang Prabang, one
of the region's great tourist attractions. Nevertheless, extreme
poverty and lack of viable economic opportunities for young people
ensure a perpetuation of prostitution in spite of anti-prostitution
laws and occasional government campaigns. Campaigns against
prostitution in other major cities in Laos at the end of 2007 appear
to have pushed sex workers out of some entertainment venues and into
other ways of meeting clients, including the use of mobile phones
and meeting at guest houses, rather than clubs.

The majority of establishments offering sex workers - discos, bars,
and restaurants - charge the guest a fee to take the sex worker out
of the establishment. Fees usually range from 2 to 4 USD. The actual
fees for sexual services are generally arranged between the sex
worker and the client. Drinking establishments and guest houses
frequently have prostitutes available, sometimes as employees and
sometimes freelance. The activities of owners/operators of
establishments with prostitutes are also criminalized, as are those
of clients. Although prostitution laws are often not enforced, some
researchers feel that increased enforcement by the GOL would
actually result in negative consequences - prostitutes going
underground and being more likely to be subjected to abuse; and also
a greater likelihood of increased low-level GOL involvement in the
prostitution trade.

F. The GOL has begun to take law enforcement efforts to combat
human trafficking more seriously, although some officials are still
reluctant to acknowledge there is an internal trafficking problem in
the commercial sex trade. According to the Ministry of Public
Security, the GOL used Article 134 to investigate 38 cases of human
trafficking in 2007, resulting in 23 arrests and 8 ongoing
prosecutions. An additional 20 cases are currently under
investigation at the time of this reporting. The 8 cases in the
courts have not yet made it to judgment or sentencing under this law
during the reporting period. (Note: According to UNIAP, the MOPS
reported 27 cases of cross-border trafficking and 14 convictions
from November 2006-December 2007. However, it appears that those
cases were "trafficking-related," and not prosecuted specifically
under Article 134. End note.)

Anecdotally, press reports include the arrest of a woman in Oudomxai
province by the Anti-Human Trafficking unit in December 2007 on
suspicion of trafficking 2 women to China. Also in December, the
LWU reported a case where the LWU shelter had provided legal
assistance to a 13-year-old girl who had been forced "to entertain"
drinkers in a bar in Vientiane. The girl was sent to a hospital
after an illness, and hospital staff reported the case to the
police, who asked the LWU for assistance. According to the LWU, the
case is under investigation by the Vientiane People's Court. (Note:
The LWU seeks to convince women at its shelter to cooperate with the
police in investigations, with mixed success. End note.) In August
2007, newspapers reported the arrest of two women suspected of
selling a niece to a Thai businessman in June, although in that case
the women were arrested under prostitution charges.
Post notes that the case of the 13-year old girl is significant in
that local officials were able to pro-actively identify a victim of
internal trafficking, provide victims' services, and begin the
process of prosecuting the traffickers. Given the low levels of
attention usually paid to internal trafficking, both the actions and
the subsequent highlighting of the event in the
government-controlled press may point to a nascent effort by the GOL
to begin addressing the problem. Furthermore, the AFESIP annual
report for 2007 notes the following development in the last few
months of 2007: "On another side, the government authorities reacted
quickly to rescue girls victims of trafficking and sexual
exploitation in bars, closed the premises and arrested traffickers
(bar owners)[sic]. These are also extremely encouraging results
showing the positive collaboration and political will of the
authorities." The AFESIP report says that authorities in Champassak
and Savannakhet provinces have been particularly cooperative in
locating and rescuing child victims of sexual exploitation; those in
Vientiane and Oudomxai provinces less so.

G. The GOL does provide training on human trafficking to officials,
sometimes using NGOs and international organizations in addition to
sessions run by GOL agencies. Examples during the reporting period
include the June 2007 workshop for officials from the Ministry of
Communication, Transport, Post and Construction and their local
counterparts from northern provinces(road construction in northern
Laos is seen as a potential risk factor for human trafficking);
front line law enforcement training for 46 police and border agents
June 2007 led by ARTIP; workshops every three months under the ASEAN
Workshop on Criminal Justice Reponses to Trafficking; June 2007
workshops by a U.S.-funded academic on patterns of trafficking and
victims' needs for officials in Vientiane and Savannakhet; September
2007 training by the Ministry of Public Security for military
officers (from the Ministry of National Defense) on human
trafficking investigations; regular train-the-trainers courses with
the Royal Thai Police on Human Trafficking Investigations Skills;
UNODC and Ministry of Justice joint training for trafficking
awareness; the June 2007 ASEAN Regional Taskforce Meeting in Hanoi
on sexual exploitation of children; and UNIAP programs at the
National University to educate students on the dangers of
trafficking in January 2008.

H. The GOL does cooperate with other agencies, particularly Thai
police, to investigate and prosecute trafficking cases. Post does
not have information on the total number of such international
investigations, although anecdotal press reports suggest that almost
all trafficking cases begin with information from victims coming
from Thailand. However, according to The Asia Foundation,
cross-border investigations are hampered by lack of technical
resources and information. The formally-identified victims who are
repatriated to Laos - roughly 280 last year - have folders of case
information that are sent to the Lao authorities at the time of the
repatriation. However, the information is usually hand-written in
Thai, and Lao officials often cannot read the handwriting, leaving
thousands of pages of documents on specific, identified cases
sitting in archives.

I. Laos has extradition agreements with Vietnam, Thailand, and
Cambodia. However, the GOL has not extradited anyone for human
trafficking-related crimes.

J. There is no evidence of GOL involvement in trafficking on an
institutional level, nor have specific human trafficking cases been
reported to the Embassy through NGOs or other means with information
about the involvement of individual Lao officials in human
trafficking cases during the reporting period. However, at the local
level, observers believe it almost certain that some officials are
involved in facilitating trafficking, sometimes in collusion with
their Thai counterparts. These local Lao officials may be complicit
in the smuggling and have probably been aware of the intentions of
those traveling to Thailand. Anecdotal evidence strongly suggests
that local officials, especially police, are often aware of
smuggling activities and that some profit from them in the form of
kickbacks. There is also evidence that border officials permit
smuggling of all kinds, and presumably this includes humans.
However, since the majority of Lao victims are trafficked once they
reach their destination in Thailand, it is uncertain how many - and
to what extent - Lao officials are involved in the human trafficking
trade as opposed to smuggling.

K. According to the GOL, no government officials have been
disciplined or punished for involvement in human trafficking.

L. Laos does not contribute troops to international peacekeeping
efforts.

M. There is no evidence that Laos has a significant problem with
child sex tourism, either as a destination or a source of tourists
for the sexual exploitation of children. Sexual relations between
foreigners and Lao citizens outside marriage are prohibited by law,
and police routinely fine foreigners who are suspected of the crime.
Sex with a minor under age 15 is also illegal. In practice,
authorities are extremely intolerant of such activities, and
pedophiles, if arrested, would likely face severe punishment.
However, the increase in tourism and the child sex tourism problems
in the region have attracted the attention of Lao authorities, who
are attempting to prevent child sex tourism from taking root in
Laos. At the June 2007 ASEAN Regional Conference on Child Sex
Offenders and again at the November 2007 Greater Mekong Subregional
Seminar, Lao officials presented their plans for working in
coordination with the tourism sector to prevent the problem in Laos.
They noted that tourism in Laos has grown from less than 900,000
visitors in 2004 to over 1.4 million visitors in 2007. Over 55% of
those tourists are from Thailand, with another 23% coming from other
Asian countries. "International" tourists (from Europe, Australia
and the Americas) make up the remaining 22% of tourists coming to
Laos.

With laws criminalizing sexual exploitation of children, Laos has
strong legal codes in place. The government has called on
traditional trafficking agencies - MOPS, MLSW, Ministry of Justice -
to work with the Lao National Tourism Authority to combat the
problem. Already many major international hotels in Vientiane and
Luang Prabang - the biggest tourism destinations - have posters
created by Childwise prominently displayed in bars and lobby areas.
Working at the behest of the MLSW, Save the Children undertook a
regional education campaign to increase awareness of the problem,
including a radio program. (Note: Radio reaches over 80% of the
Lao population, the largest reach of any medium in Laos. End note.)
Tourism sector employees are receiving training to report suspicious
behavior, including a seminar jointly hosted by the GOL and NGOs in
Luang Prabang in September 2007. Tourism police have guidelines
drafted in July 2007 for using the laws and identifying potential
victims. Training of tourist police in the use of these guidelines
continued until the end of the year in Savannakhet, Champassak, and
Vientiane. The guidelines state that protecting children from child
sex tourism and child labor abuse in the tourism industry is a
primary objective for the tourism police. Laos also has a telephone
number available to report incidents, although Post has no
information on specific cases reported through this mechanism.
Vientiane Province established a task force on child sex tourism in
December 2007 to coordinate efforts between the authorities and the
tourism sector. In December 2007, the Lao Youth Union hosted a major
event to warn against the exploitation of children, garnering
coverage through all Lao media and including statements by the
Deputy Foreign Minister and other senior Lao officials to raise
awareness of the problem. See note in paragraph F above on police
reacting to reports of child prostitutes, based on AFESIP's annual
report.

XXIX. Protection and Assistance to Victims

A through C. The MLSW and the Immigration Department, in cooperation
with IOM, UNIAP, and AFESIP, work together to provide victims'
assistance. The MLSW maintains a small transit center for that
purpose in Vientiane. The transit center has assisted more than 1044
human trafficking victims since it opened in late 2001, including
approximately 280 in 2007 and 21 in January 2008. The GOL cooperates
with IOM to protect and counsel returnees who have been processed
through the MLSW transit center. Victims stay in the transit
shelter for approximately one week, while officials attempt family
assessments and counseling. Victims are asked whether they wish to
return to their families or need additional time in a shelter. Very
few request referrals to the LWU or AFESIP shelters since they spent
5-8 months, on average, in a shelter in Thailand before being
returned to Laos. GOL officials escort victims home when that is
the choice made by the victims. Those victims not ready to return
home are referred to the AFESIP shelter or the LWU shelter for
longer term care and vocational training. The LWU shelter for
victims of domestic violence and trafficking opened in late 2005
with joint funding from UNICEF, the Japanese Government, and The
Asia Foundation. It provided shelter and legal, medical, and
counseling assistance to 48 women in 2007 and 40 in January/February
2008. Approximately one third were trafficking victims. AFESIP
opened its shelter in Vientiane in October 2006, dedicated to
providing longer-term shelter and counseling for victims of sexual
exploitation, both domestic and those returned from abroad. That
shelter assisted 20 victims as long term residents in 2007 and
currently has 19 residents. In addition, AFESIP provided 46 other
victims with vocational training and employment services on an
"outpatient" basis. In October 2007 AFESIP broke ground on a new
shelter for trafficking victims in Savannakhet, which is expected to
open in 2008. AFESIP will construct a second transit center, to be
run by the MLSW, on the same piece of land. The MLSW provided the
land for the shelter and transit center.

Generally the government does not have the resources to provide
extended care to trafficking victims, beyond the basic services at
the MLSW transit center, and requests assistance from NGOs,
negotiating MOUs and terms of reference. When possible, the
government does provide assistance in kind, for example, providing
the land for the AFESIP shelter in Savannakhet. The LWU has a
representative in every village in Laos and helps to monitor cases
of victims returning home after staying in its shelter.

D. Trafficking victims are currently identified through a formal
program with Thai authorities, whereby Thailand identifies the
victims, provides initial shelter and some counseling, then
repatriates them to Laos. IOM and the Lao Embassy in Bangkok
facilitate the process. In 2007, approximately 280 trafficking
victims were returned to Laos under this mechanism and another 21
followed in January 2008. Staffing problems in Thailand resulted in
February's repatriation being postponed until March 2008. The
victims spend a week at the transit center, then are returned home
or referred to the LWU or AFESIP shelters. Domestic trafficking
victims, such as girls found working in the "beer shops," can be
referred to either shelter as well. There is currently no figure
available for domestic trafficking victims.

E. Prostitution is not legal in Laos.

F. Trafficking victims returned through the formal process described
in paragraph D above are not jailed. They are placed in a transit
shelter one week while officials and social services staff from the
MLSW conduct assessments, then are returned home or sent to longer
term shelters at the victims' request. The elimination of exit visas
in January 2007 and the elimination of the "fines" for returning
migrants in 2005 have helped protect victims from legal prosecution.
None of the organizations we spoke to could identify a specific
instance of identified trafficking victims being forced to pay fines
to local authorities for returning home. (Monitoring of returned
victims, incidentally, has greatly improved over the reporting
period, with IOM and AFESIP both working with local Departments of
Labor and Social Welfare to track reintegration procedures and
programs.) The MLSW and other GOL parties continue to instruct
provincial authorities that they cannot fine returning trafficking
victims. Post has heard anecdotally of cases of female victims of
domestic trafficking simply "freed" from the bar owners and sent
home, while the bar owners are apparently facing prosecution. There
have been no attempts to prosecute or fine victims of domestic
trafficking or sexual exploitation who have passed through either
the AFESIP or LWU shelter.

G and H. Laos has no victim restitution program. The GOL has no
special program for witness protection, a matter of concern to the
trafficking police, although the law calls for the protection of the
victims' identities (see section 28, Law on the Protection of Women,
Article 25,"Rights of Victims"). In theory, a trafficking victim
could file a civil suit against a trafficker, although this has not
been done in practice. Access to legal redress is gated mostly by
culture and resources for both the victims and the legal community.
Most Lao, including trafficking victims, are not familiar with the
use of court procedures to redress grievances of any kind. The legal
aid clinic program run by the Lao Bar Association is working to
teach people how lawyers can provide assistance, although there are
only 82 member of the bar in Laos. The Ministry of Justice is also
working to disseminate information on this issue, include a January
2008 seminar in Xieng Khouang province, which trained local leaders
in the role of lawyers and provided information on the laws on the
protection of women and children, the human trafficking law, and
others. Most Lao use mediation and arbitration through respected
village leaders to settle disputes. NGOs report stories of victims
asking for village leaders to intervene in local situations where
brokers may have acted in bad faith, but those situations are often
not reported to the authorities. With only 10,000 or so policemen in
the entire country, many villages do not have local law enforcement
personnel to even take reports, much less conduct thorough
investigations. Many trafficking victims may not even know that
legal avenues exist, which is why the LWU and other mass
organizations expend so much effort on disseminating laws. The MLSW
has a small unit devoted to protecting children with special needs,
including a program for protection against and prevention of
trafficking. See paragraphs A-F above for more details of the
shelters, services, and funding provided to assist victims.

I. The government does provide training in all areas of the
trafficking problem, supported by NGOs, international organizations,
and regional bodies, although targeted toward specific at risk
provinces. See paragraph E in Section 28, for a representative,
albeit not comprehensive, list of training programs. Representatives
at Lao embassies abroad are also instructed in their duties to
assist in repatriation of victims, as noted in Section 28 in the
text of the Law on the Protection of Women. Lao representatives at
the Embassy in Thailand, for example, work with IOM and the MLSW to
repatriate Lao victims. The Lao Embassy in Bangkok has a special
unit charged with assisting migrants and trafficking victims.
Usually the unit provides documents for the repatriation, if
necessary, and coordinates shelter and assistance with the
authorities in Thailand. The unit has, on occasion, funded the
return of truly destitute victims who are not returned via the Thai
shelter/IOM mechanism, although the MFA does not keep track of those
numbers. Officials from the Lao Embassy in Bangkok have also
escorted returnees to Laos on some occasions, according to the MFA.
The Thai Center for the Protection of Children's Rights (CPCR) and
the Foundation for Women of Thailand have also been involved with
this effort.

The MLSW has a unit dedicated to protecting children identified as
trafficking victims, and both the AFESIP shelter and the LWU shelter
have programs in place for younger children. Approximately 60% of
the victims of human trafficking returned from Thailand are under
age 18.

J. The government provides initial medical screening and counseling
for victims in a transit shelter in Vientiane, as well as
counseling, medical services, vocational training, employment
services, and ongoing monitoring to victims sent to the LWU shelter.
AFESIP, under an MOU, provides similar services and monitoring for
the victims referred to its shelter. IOM and AFESIP, with
assistance from MLSW, currently try to monitor victims reintegrated
directly into the community after staying in the transit shelter.
The LWU also does monitoring of former victims.

K. The GOL does not have the means to fund NGOs or international
organizaions working in Laos. However, the GOL provides office space
(to IOM and others), land for shelters (to AFESIP), and staff
(usually MLSW or LWU) to assist in monitoring and assistance
programs run by NGOs and IOs. The LWU shelter is staffed with LWU
employees for example, but funded by outside organizations. The GOL
does keep a close eye on NGOs working in victims' assistance as part
of the overall effort to coordinate programs. MOUs are signed and
workplans developed to meet the needs in particular provinces and
among specific populations. To the extent its resources allow, the
GOL does appear to provide or refer victims to appropriate
organizations to get assistance.

The following IOs and NGOs work in Laos: UNDP:UNICEF; UNIFEM; UNODC;
UNFPA; ARTIP; Save the Children, Australia; Save the Children,
Norway; Save the Children, UK; International Labor Organization;
Norwegian Church Aid; World Vision; Asia Regional Cooperation to
Prevent People Trafficking; World Education/Consortium; Village
Focus International; IOM; Care, International; AFESIP; Childwise;
Friends International; and Oxfam.


XXX. Prevention:

A. The GOL acknowledges trafficking as a problem at the highest
levels and has made combating trafficking in persons a national
priority, within its limited means.

B. With NGO and UNICEF funding, the MLSW has sponsored media
messages on the dangers of trafficking. In July 2007, the
Government-controlled Lao media published a study on the impact of
the trafficking awareness campaign, noting for example that 71% of
young people had heard the term "human trafficking" and that the
majority had heard it from the media. Programs at the National
University of Laos and "feature" articles in the press warn young
people of the dangers of trafficking regularly. The MLSW also worked
with UNICEF to set up awareness-raising billboards near border
checkpoints and in Laos' larger cities. Many Lao schools, libraries,
and public buildings also have posters on the dangers of
trafficking. In December 2007, the Lao Youth Union held a day-long
event with workshops, puppet shows, and plays to address child
trafficking specifically. The event, led by the Deputy Prime
Minister/Minister of National Defense, was covered widely in the Lao
press, including radio, television, and print. The Deputy PM also
specifically warned of the dangers of child sexual exploitation and
domestic trafficking, showing that the government is beginning to
focus on these problems in Laos.

D. The Government of Laos cooperates with IOM and United Nations
agencies, particularly the UNIAP, to monitor, document, and suggest
remedies for trafficking-related problems. Since 2001, the MLSW,
acting with international NGOs, has conducted data collection and
simultaneous parallel public education campaigns. IOM and the MSLW
have a number of studies of trafficking patterns underway, including
the study on patterns of child trafficking cited earlier. See
section 27, paragraph E for more details. In most places borders can
be crossed easily by land or by boat, and the GOL has a very limited
capacity to monitor border areas outside established immigration and
customs posts.

E. There are several mechanisms for coordinating anti-trafficking
issues among agencies. The Ministerial Committee on Trafficking,
established in 2004 as part of Laos' COMMIT commitment, is one such
avenue and is designed primarily to coordinate among Lao government
ministries. The Inter Agency Coordination Committee, chaired by
UNIAP, includes any interested NGO or diplomatic community
representative as well as representatives from the MFA, Ministry of
Justice, MOPS, MLSW, and the Prosecutor's Office. This group meets
approximately every 3-4 months to discuss new initiatives, share
information, and request assistance from each other or a government
ministry. (For example, NGOs are sharing phone numbers, brochures,
and other materials that will be included in multi-agency "Safe
Migration" kits for distribution in areas with at-risk populations
and will include information on how to identify trafficking risks
and how to seek assistance, including telephone numbers in both Laos
and Thailand. This initiative began when three agencies learned that
they were all working on contact information cards for those at
risk.)

The GOL is currently working with UNIAP to develop an action plan to
address prevention, prosecution, protection, and reintegration for
2008 and 2009. NGOs were asked in January 2008 to fill in areas on
the plan grid where they are currently working so the GOL can
identify the gaps. At the January 2008 meeting, and based on the
plans for upcoming years, NGOS are concerned that their focus on
international trafficking means they don't have experience on the
ground in Laos to work on the commercial sex trade issues that the
government has identified as areas of future concern, for example,
in the casinos built by the Chinese in northern provinces. NGOs now
are not sure how to work with commercial enterprises or deal with a
trafficking victim when the victim is already at home. Current
standards of protection - removal of the victim from the situation
and return home with assistance - won't work as the model, and the
NGOs are not sure how to proceed. This kind of discussion and
problem identification bodes well for future efforts in Laos. The
State Inspection Committee, chaired by the Deputy Prime Minister, is
charged with overseeing anti-corruption efforts.

F. The GOL held its first national meeting to combat human
trafficking in 2006 and completed the national plan to combat
trafficking in persons in July 2007. Any representative of a foreign
embassy, NGO, or IO with an interest in trafficking was welcome at a
series of open meetings on the draft NPA and could actively
participate in working groups to establish the performance
evaluation metrics that are included in the plan. Although the last
country in the region to complete an NPA on human trafficking, Laos
will apparently be the first to include metrics for evaluation in
its plan. According to the MLSW, the plan was approved by the
National Assembly in October 2007 and is waiting final ratification
by the Prime Minister's office. MFA officials told Emboff that the
delay is caused by Cabinet concerns over whether Laos will have the
budget to fully implement the NPA.

G. The government's efforts to combat prostitution appear to be
limited to law enforcement activity against owners and operators of
venues and public awareness campaigns on child sexual exploitation
(cited above). Police periodically move to shut down establishments,
such as bars, nightclubs and discos, where prostitutes operate. For
example, in October and November 2007, police sought to shut down
bars and entertainment venues with prostitutes in the UNESCO world
heritage city of Luang Prabang, one of the region's great tourist
attractions. Nevertheless, extreme poverty and lack of viable
economic opportunities for young people ensure a perpetuation of
prostitution in spite of anti-prostitution laws and occasional
government campaigns. Campaigns against prostitution in other major
cities in Laos at the end of 2007 appear to have pushed sex workers
out of some entertainment venues and into other ways of meeting
clients, including the use of mobile phones and meeting at guest
houses, rather than clubs.

31. BEST PRACTICES: Post considers the Interagency Coordination
Committee meetings cited in paragraph E, above, as a best practice.
The coordination has resulted in specific actions by NGOs and IOs,
including the collaboration on the Safe Migration campaign, to
improve the use of their resources and broaden their reach. It also
helps the NGOs collectively identify future problems and resource
gaps, such as their concerns over commercial sex trade and domestic
trafficking initiatives. The Committee meeting has also served to
identify overlaps and deconflict programs. For example, Save the
Children and World Vision have identified that they are both working
on a very similar program for youth, but in geographically distinct
areas. Finally, the meeting gives the NGOs and international
organizations (and interested Embassy representatives) a forum for
collectively raising trafficking issues to representatives from a
group of Lao ministries at the same time, giving the "sense of the
community" greater weight that it otherwise might have. We note
that the ICC process generally has the NGOs/IOs meet together first
and then join an expanded meeting that includes the GOL
representatives. The "Committee" is chaired by UNIAP on the NGO side
and the Director General of the MFA's International Organizations
Department on td authoritim

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
World Headlines

 

Werewolf: Gordon Campbell On North Korea, Neo-Nazism, And Milo

With a bit of luck the planet won’t be devastated by nuclear war in the next few days. US President Donald Trump will have begun to fixate on some other way to gratify his self-esteem – maybe by invading Venezuela or starting a war with Iran. More>>

Victory Declared: New Stabilisation Funding From NZ As Mosul Is Retaken

New Zealand has congratulated the Iraqi government on the successful liberation of Mosul from ISIS after a long and hard-fought campaign. More>>

Gordon Campbell: On The Current US Moves Against North Korea

If Martians visited early last week, they’d probably be scratching their heads as to why North Korea was being treated as a potential trigger for global conflict... More>>

ALSO:

Gordon Campbell: On The Lessons From Corbyn’s Campaign

Leaving partisan politics aside – and ignoring Jeremy Corbyn’s sensational election campaign for a moment – it has to be said that Britain is now really up shit creek... More>>

ALSO:

Another US Court: Fourth Circuit Rules Muslim Ban Discriminatory

ACLU: Step by step, point by point, the court laid out what has been clear from the start: The president promised to ban Muslims from the United States, and his executive orders are an attempt to do just that. More>>

ALSO:

 
 
 
 
 
 
  • Pacific.Scoop
  • Cafe Pacific
  • PMC