Cablegate: Vietnam - Annual Anti-Trafficking in Persons

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.







E.O. 12958: N/A
REPORT, 2003

REF: A) STATE 22225

B) 2002 HANOI 03000
C) 2002 HANOI 01790
D) 2002 HANOI 01061

1. (U) As instructed ref A, post provides input for the
2003 Anti-trafficking in Persons report. The point of
contact in Vietnam is Tim Swanson, tel. 84-4-772-1500 and
fax 84-4-772-2614. Post estimates that collecting
information for and drafting the report required 48 hours,
including 8 hours by an FSN. Post would appreciate having
the opportunity to comment on the placement and the report
language for Vietnam based on the following information.

2. (SBU) Below are answers to the questions posed in
paragraphs 16, 17, 18, and 19 of ref A.

Begin response to questions.

16. Overview:

A. Vietnam is both a country of origin and transit for
trafficked persons. In addition, women and children are
also trafficked within Vietnam, usually from rural to urban
areas. Poor women and teenage girls, especially those from
rural areas, are most at risk for being trafficked. Men
from similar situations are more likely to seek low paid,
unskilled, manual labor either in Vietnam's cities or

Vietnam has neither comprehensive nor reliable statistics on
the numbers of persons trafficked from and through Vietnam.
However, local and foreign experts agree the numbers are
proportionally lower than those of most other countries in
the region.

Available statistics are primarily based on cases brought to
court through 2001. Because this data only counts cases
that are discovered and prosecuted, they underestimate the
true extent of trafficking in persons in Vietnam. Only
partial statistics are available for 2002, although the
officials of the Supreme People's Procuracy have stated that
"hundreds" of traffickers are prosecuted annually. An
article published in 2002 in newspapers of the Border Guards
Command and the Ministry of Public Security (MPS) reported
256 trafficking cases with 438 defendants in 2001 and 213
cases with 351 defendants in 2000. Between the beginning of
2001 and early 2003, MPS recorded 270 court cases involving
trafficking to China with 428 defendants, of whom 200 were
men. During the same time period, MPS noted 1080 victims of
trafficking to China, including 1058 women and girls as well
as 22 boys. One MPS estimate is that the actual volume of
trafficking is six to ten times higher, but Post is unaware
of the basis for this guess. On average in the 1990's,
Vietnamese courts heard 300-400 cases per year, involving
500-700 trafficking victims. According to a 2001 Vietnamese
press report, between 1996 and 2000, police "cracked down on
61 women trafficking rings involving 598 individuals." The
statistics available do not include information on
conviction rates for trafficking and related charges, but
the overall conviction rate in Vietnamese courts is about
95%. Therefore, post believes that nearly as many
traffickers were convicted as prosecuted.

Data available from border guards concerning women and
children being trafficked abroad are spotty. According to
one report, between 1990-2000, approximately 20,000 young
women and girls went to China to become brides, domestic
workers, or sex workers; however, it is not clear how many
were victims of trafficking. (Note: Observers believe many,
if not most, of these young women were voluntary migrants
and, at least initially, not victims of trafficking.) Also
according to border statistics, from 1995-2000, 5000 women
and children were trafficked to, and subsequently escaped
from, Cambodia. As with other statistics available on
trafficking, these data likely underestimate the magnitude
of the problem. According to a Vietnamese press report
dated 11/28/01, "Seventy percent, or 31,500, of a total of
45,000 prostitutes working in Cambodia is Vietnamese, of
whom 30% are under 17." Although some of these sex workers
were from Cambodia's ethnic Vietnamese minority, some were
trafficked from Vietnam. (Note: Post was not able to
obtain updated statistics on cross border movements. End
note.) According to International Organization for
Migration (IOM) sources, "several dozen" Vietnamese
trafficking victims, many of them teenagers, were
repatriated from Cambodia in 2001 and 2002.

B. Vietnamese trafficking victims originate primarily from
poor rural provinces bordering Cambodia and China. Some
also come from other nearby highland provinces. There is
also evidence that a smaller number of victims are from
poor, urban areas.

Women and girls trafficked abroad go primarily to Cambodia
and China. Some women from Ho Chi Minh City and the Mekong
Delta who married men from Taiwan were forced into
prostitution or domestic servitude after their arrival in
Taiwan. Since 1995, about 60,000 Vietnamese women have gone
to Taiwan as brides. Vietnamese and Taiwan estimates of the
number who have encountered difficulties, including but not
limited to trafficking, vary from less than one percent up
to 14 or 15 percent, but most fall around five percent.
There have also been reports that Vietnamese women have been
trafficked to Singapore, Macao, Hong Kong, Malaysia, and
Thailand. During 2002, there were at least two local press
reports about Vietnamese women trafficked for prostitution
from Ho Chi Minh City to Malaysia via Bangkok. MPS
confirmed that trafficking of women to Malaysia is a growing
problem, with criminal organizations taking advantage of
labor export programs. Some of this trafficking occurs
directly from Vietnam. There are also reports that
Vietnamese residing elsewhere in the region have been
trafficked to third countries. For example, the Vietnamese
press reported arrests of traffickers accused of moving
Vietnamese (and others) from Cambodia to Thailand and
Malaysia. MPS noted that is has "good information" that
some Vietnamese women trafficked to China are subsequently
trafficked to third countries, especially Japan and the
United States.

Vietnamese authorities, in cooperation with the INS and
other third country law enforcement officials, have
documented cases of trafficking in Vietnamese babies for
international adoption, especially in the area of directed
adoption, involving payments to parents in exchange for
releasing their babies for adoption.

Trafficking also occurs within Vietnam, primarily from poor
rural areas to the relatively wealthier urban areas of Ho
Chi Minh City, Hanoi, Haiphong, and Danang. In the past,
Vietnamese officials have been relatively reluctant to
acknowledge internal trafficking. More recently, officials
have discussed internal trafficking alongside international
trafficking and have noted that the definition of
trafficking in Vietnamese law does not require crossing a
border. There are no official data on the extent of
internal trafficking. According to one MPS estimate,
domestic trafficking accounted for approximately 44.5% of
all Vietnamese women trafficked, although experts in
trafficking issues question the origin and reliability of
this statistic, suspecting it may be too high. Experts
agreed the GVN has begun to give greater attention to the
issue of internal trafficking.

Vietnam is also a known transit point for trafficking.
While Vietnamese authorities focus on protecting and
providing services to Vietnamese citizens, U.S. and third
country law enforcement officials note that third country
organized criminal gangs use Vietnam as a transit point from
China and a number of Middle Eastern countries to Australia,
Europe, and Canada. Vietnamese police cooperate with third
country law enforcement personnel on such cases. According
to an INS official in Vietnam this cooperation has
progressed to the point that not only are Vietnamese
officials reacting to tips and queries but are also asking
INS and the Australian Federal Police for advice and
collaboration on suspected cases. Such cases prompted
Australia and Vietnam to sign an agreement stating their
mutual commitment to combating trafficking in women and
children. Vietnam has clearly and repeatedly indicated its
willingness to conclude other such agreements, including
with the United States.

C. Reliable statistical information on trafficking in
persons remains scarce and incomplete. UNICEF and MPS
reported that 2002 survey of ten northern provinces showed
that a growing proportion of victims were coming from
provinces far from the China border. UNICEF also noted that
some recently repatriated victims from China were actually
from southern Vietnam and had been trafficked to China
through Cambodia. Preliminary findings of a
UNDP/International Labor Organization (ILO) study conducted
in conjunction with a project to combat trafficking in the
Mekong sub-region discovered that many women originally
reportedly trafficked to China from one province in the
1990's had not actually been trafficked. GVN officials have
been quoted in the press as admitting that trafficking was a
growing problem. All sources Post interviewed for this
report claimed, however, that it was impossible to tell
whether the problem was growing; while there is some feeling
that it may be leveling off, no officials claimed that it
was declining. It is not clear if the overall problem is
indeed growing, or if it is merely the officials' awareness
of trafficking (and its patterns and causes) that is

D. UNODCP plans to undertake a thorough survey of
trafficking in Vietnam in cooperation with the MPS, the
Supreme People's Procuracy, and the Women's Union. The
project would also set up a sustainable data collection
system to be housed within a new office of crime statistics
within the Procuracy. Post has submitted a funding request
to INL to carry out this project (Ref B). The Vietnam
portion of a UNDP/ILO regional project combating trafficking
in women and children in the Mekong sub-region is updating
and reviewing existing studies to gain a more comprehensive
understanding of trafficking. This project is also
developing a case management database that may be used in
the future to add to what we know about trafficking in
persons in Vietnam. Preliminary findings (see 16. C.)
indicate that many earlier reported cases do not meet the
definition of trafficking. The supposed victims reported
that they had been free to return at any time. Many
Vietnamese and international trafficking experts have
expressed concern about the lack of data, which makes design
of appropriate prevention and protection measures difficult,
and are seeking funding from the U.S. and other donors to
carry out this much needed survey work. The Asia
Foundation has received funding from G/TIP for an anti-
trafficking project, one component of which is research into
the root causes of trafficking and gaps in available
coverage. The project is just getting underway. UNICEF and
MPS plan to replicate in ten southern provinces a survey
they conducted in ten northern provinces in 2002 (see 16.

E. Post has no information that Vietnam is a destination
point for trafficking victims.

F. Poor women and teenage girls, especially those from
rural areas, are most at risk for being trafficked. UNICEF
research showed that victims tend to be from moderately poor
rural areas and have from six to nine years of education.
Few come from the most remote and poorest areas, although
recently there appears to be demand in China for Vietnamese
ethnic minorities because they are "more docile" than the
ethnic majority Kinh. Some are sold or indentured by their
families as domestic workers or sex workers. Some want to
be brides of foreign husbands. Tales of lucrative
employment lures others. They then find themselves forced
into brothels, abusive marriages, or involuntary servitude,
especially as domestics. IOM reports that young girls and
women who are trafficked often are tricked by enticing
offers brokered by acquaintances. In addition, the family
members of teenage girls in poor rural areas often turn a
blind eye to the details of perceived lucrative offers for
their daughters' employment abroad. Poor families in the
Mekong Delta region sometimes take a payment of several
hundred dollars - a large sum for many families (per capita
income is $400 countrywide and in rural areas is
considerably lower) - in exchange for allowing their
daughters to go to Cambodia for an "employment offer." IOM
reports that, while there was no indication that the number
of such victims changed substantially in 2001-2002, the age
of some girls trafficked to Cambodia has fallen to 13-15,
something not seen before. UNICEF also reported that, for
the first time, in 2002 some girls trafficked to China were
also as young as 13-15.

Post believes that the Vietnamese traffickers have been
primarily individual opportunists or small groups. MPS has
become concerned with what it describes as progressively
more sophisticated criminal groups that are using legal
fronts such as labor export companies and tourism agencies
to conduct trafficking in persons. While these groups
appear to be entirely Vietnamese, some include Vietnamese
residing abroad. Anecdotal evidence from organizations such
as IOM, ILO, and MPS, as well as foreign consular
authorities in Vietnam, suggest that informal networks
operate, with "brokers" introducing women and girls to those
who offer employment abroad, often disguising the real
nature of the (sex) work. Frequently, these "brokers" are
family members or from the same community as the victim. At
times, they, too, have been victims of trafficking and
return to "recruit" others. Some experts have expressed
concern that traffickers are becoming more organized and
developing direct affiliations to others involved in
smuggling of goods, and perhaps, drug trafficking. Ministry
of Justice (MOJ) officials contacted for this report
indicated that there did not seem to be any significant
overlap between drug traffickers and human traffickers. MPS
has described loosely linked cells, each specializing in
particular tasks such as recruiting or cross-border
smuggling, which form chains to carry out human trafficking.
Reliable observers have noted that individual members of
Taiwanese organized crime groups are among those bringing
Vietnamese women to Taiwan through marriage. However, other
than use of Vietnam as a transit point for trafficked
persons, there is little other hard evidence of involvement
by international organized crime at present.

MPS is paying increasing attention to the involvement of GVN
officials in trafficking in persons. Such involvement
appears primarily to be through providing false documents as
well as authentic, but fraudulently obtained, passports.
Greater MPS scrutiny parallels a longer-standing effort to
crack down on mid- and low-level officials providing false
documents in support of fraudulent international adoptions.

G. There is a commitment at the highest levels of the GVN
to combating trafficking in persons. In 1997, the Prime
Minister issued a decree instructing GVN ministries to
combat trafficking in women and children and assigning
responsibilities in this effort. Since that time, official
GVN entities have made a good faith effort to address
trafficking. As an initial step, the GVN amended the
existing criminal code to increase the penalties for
trafficking in women and children, which is specifically
prohibited by law. The GVN developed and has begun
implementing a five-year Plan of Action Against Prostitution
2001-2005, which addresses combating trafficking in women
and children both abroad and internally. The Ministry of
Labor, Invalids and Social Affairs (MOLISA) continues to
work on a dedicated action plan against trafficking in women
and children. Conceptually, this would task an
interministerial working group led by a Deputy Prime
Minister with coordinating anti-trafficking activities.
Numerous anti-trafficking initiatives have been and are
being conducted by a variety of government agencies and
Communist Party of Vietnam (CPV)-affiliated mass
organizations. The GVN has devoted scarce domestic
resources -- financial, human, and physical -- and drawn on
international assistance to conduct trafficking initiatives.
The MOJ, in cooperation with UNICEF, organized a national
workshop in 2002 to begin efforts to revise laws and
implement the necessary systemic changes for Vietnam to
ratify and implement the Optional Protocol Against the Worst
Forms of Trafficking in Women and Children of the Covenant
Against Transnational Organized Crime. In 2002, various GVN
entities agreed to participate in anti-trafficking projects
undertaken by the UNODCP, UNICEF, IOM, and the Asia
Foundation. In 2002, the GVN actively participated in
implementing two anti-trafficking projects conducted by the
UNDP and the ILO as part of their larger Mekong regional
anti-trafficking programs.

H. The GVN officially condemns trafficking in persons and
there is no evidence that any GVN agencies have engaged in
or tolerated trafficking. However, experts in this field
report that individual GVN officials, most frequently border
guards and other low- to mid-level functionaries, have taken
bribes in return for facilitating trafficking. Corruption
by GVN officials is recognized as a serious problem at all
levels in Vietnam. According to GVN sources, the GVN has
prosecuted and convicted a number of officials involved in
baby selling and other forms of trafficking, but they were
unable to provide specifics. Official media reports have
also mentioned several prosecutions against local officials
involved in illegal adoption schemes. In the case of the
sale of children for fraudulent international adoptions,
Post has hard evidence of the involvement of some mid-level
GVN ministry and provincial officials. MOJ officials noted
at least four trafficking cases prosecuted against local GVN
officials in 2002.

State-owned labor supply companies reportedly supplied
workers to a Korean-owned garment manufacturer, Daewoosa, in
American Samoa. These workers were subjected to debt
bondage, mistreatment, threats, and abuse. The Korean owner
has been convicted of involuntary servitude, money
laundering, conspiracy, and extortion in this case, but was
not tried on trafficking charges. There has not been a
legal determination that these workers were trafficked or
that the Vietnamese manpower supply companies were involved
in trafficking. Partly as a result of this case, the GVN
initiated a widely publicized review of the operations and
finances of licensed labor supply companies, which resulted
in the temporary or permanent suspension of the operating
licenses of several companies, including one that supplied
workers to Daewoosa. In addition, the director of the
second labor supply company involved with Daewoosa was
convicted on corruption charges. While Post is not aware of
a direct connection between the director's conviction and
the Daewoosa case, some of our contacts have speculated that
the investigation that led to his conviction resulted in
part from the scrutiny brought to bear on the company by the
American Samoa case.

I. The GVN faces very real financial and manpower
constraints that limit its anti-trafficking efforts.
Resource constraints are a major obstacle to progress in the
fight against trafficking in persons, including prevention,
investigation and prosecution, and assistance to victims.
Vietnam is one of the world's poorest countries, with an
annual per capita income of approximately $400. Anti-
trafficking programs compete with other important but under-
funded public programs including health, poverty
alleviation, basic sanitation, education, and other public
services. Social programs are not the only ones that go
begging in the budget process. Infrastructure development,
law enforcement, and even national defense struggle with
severe financial constraints. The country's poverty is the
major "push" for the poor who are at greatest risk of
falling victim to trafficking schemes. The shortage of
financial resources also keeps GVN salaries very low, widely
perceived as a major factor contributing to corruption,
which in turn can facilitate trafficking.

17. Prevention:

A. The GVN has officially acknowledged that trafficking in
persons is a problem. NGOs generally give the GVN high
marks for its forthright efforts to try to prevent
trafficking; GVN agencies are actively searching for
additional foreign assistance to address the problem. GVN
officials working in the area recognize that trafficking
could further expand if serious efforts are not made to
combat it. National Assembly members have described
trafficking as a "burning issue."

B. Several GVN agencies and organizations are engaged in
anti-trafficking work. MOLISA is responsible for prevention
and rehabilitation. Other concerned ministries include the
MPS, the MOJ, and the Border Guards Command of the Ministry
of Defense. Also involved are the GVN Committee for
Population, Family, and Children (CPFC) (note: A 2002
government reorganization merged the Committee for
Protection and Care of Children (CPCC) with the Committee
for Population and Family Planning. end note), the Supreme
People's Procuracy, and several CPV-affiliated mass
organizations, including the Women's Union, the Youth Union,
and, to a lesser extent, the Vietnamese Chamber of Commerce
and Industry and the Vietnamese General Confederation of

C. Yes. MOLISA, the Women's Union, and the CPFC all have
active information campaigns using a variety of formats,
including distribution of leaflets and training of community
trainers aimed at populations deemed to be at risk, as well
as general information campaigns via the state-owned media.
These campaigns have been useful, but experts have stated
that both the messages and the methods are staid and could
be improved to increase campaigns' effectiveness, especially
in the south. The Asia Foundation is beginning a USG-funded
project in cooperation with the Women's Union that will test
and evaluate the suitability of several international best
practices in information campaigns.

D. GVN and CPV-affiliated organizations also conduct
programs to prevent trafficking, such as vocational
training, enterprise development, and micro-credit. There
is general agreement that one of the major underlying
factors leading to trafficking in Vietnam is poverty and
uneven distribution of the benefits of the economic reforms
and integration underway since the late 1980's. Therefore,
these organizations support programs designed to create jobs
and alleviate poverty. Such projects have long been
conducted under large poverty alleviation programs. More
recently, the GVN and international donors have begun
incorporating them as specific strategies in anti-
trafficking programs. The GVN raised the level of universal
education from six years to nine years in 2001.

E. The GVN supports prevention programs. Prevention efforts
are focused on education of at-risk populations, vocational
training, micro-credit programs, and other poverty
alleviation programs. More resources would be readily
welcomed by those agencies involved in prevention. GVN
agencies have actively sought assistance from the USG and
other governments to confront the problem.

F. The UN agencies in Hanoi, led by UNICEF, UNDP, and
UNODCP, have undertaken efforts to establish a strategic
working group to pull together GVN, NGO, IO, and individual
donor governments to coordinate efforts on trafficking in
persons in Vietnam. UNICEF has also worked to facilitate
cooperation between Vietnamese and Chinese authorities to
combat trafficking. UNICEF has also worked extensively with
MOLISA, MPS, the Border Guards Command, and the MOJ on
various anti-trafficking projects. Individual NGOs and
international organizations cooperate on specific projects
around the country. For example, IOM conducted a nation-
wide education campaign in concert with GVN agencies and
international actors such as UNICEF. IOM is currently
partnered with the Women's Union and the CPFC in a number of
provinces to provide rehabilitation assistance for
returnees. MOLISA has partnered with UNDP and ILO on two
large regional anti-trafficking projects. Small, domestic
NGO-like organizations exist, and a few have anti-
trafficking activities. However, no legal framework exists
yet permitting the formal establishment of domestic NGO's.
Therefore, these groups work primarily with international
entities and are not able to cooperate or interact
effectively with official GVN agencies.

G. It is difficult for the GVN adequately to monitor its
borders. Vietnam has a long and generally sparsely
populated land borders with China, Laos, and Cambodia,
making it easy for traffickers to evade border detection.
Resources, rugged terrain, and a long-standing border
dispute with Cambodia also limit the GVN's border monitoring
efforts. Land border posts lack computer equipment and
often do not have telephones or radios.

H. The Prime Minister issued a directive in 1997
instructing specific ministries (listed in B above) to
combat trafficking of women and children overseas and
assigning them specific responsibilities. While this
arrangement has produced results (see 23. G), observers
inside and outside the GVN note there is room for further
improvement. The directive designated MOLISA as the focal
point; for a time it appeared that this gave MOLISA policy
leadership, but in practice, this did not happen. MOLISA
was generally unresponsive to efforts to broaden the focus
beyond trafficking in women and children for the purpose of
sexual exploitation. Rather than fostering comprehensive,
coordinated interagency work, MOLISA appeared to favor an
approach that ensured that all agencies worked only in their
special areas of competency. In particular, MOLISA was said
to resist working with the MOJ, which was charged by the
Prime Minister with drafting laws and regulations on
trafficking. MOJ and other GVN entities have exhibited a
broader approach to trafficking; MOLISA has now also begun
to show interest in a more flexible and coordinated
approach. MOJ, with support from the National Assembly, has
begun studying possible legislation and policy changes on
trafficking in persons. The MPS has actively enforced
existing laws on trafficking in women and children. The
Border Guards exercised responsibility for receiving and
repatriating returning victims. Other GVN entities have
worked with MOLISA on prevention and rehabilitation. (Note:
This problem of inter-ministerial cooperation is not limited
or unique to trafficking issues. End note)

The GVN is conducting a five-year evaluation report of the
Prime Minister's 1997 decree on combating trafficking in
women and children. MPS sources stated that one of the
recommendations of the evaluation will be more clearly to
assign a GVN entity to be in charge of overall efforts to
combat trafficking. Other sources said that this
organization could be a Deputy Prime Minister-led
interministerial steering committee. Another possibility
would be to add responsibility for trafficking to an
existing interministerial steering committee responsible for
prostitution, illegal drugs, and HIV/AIDS.

The GVN and the CPV have concentrated considerable attention
on the problem of corruption. While the GVN does not have a
specific anti-corruption task force, such a body does exist
within the CPV. The largest corruption-related trial in SRV
history, centered on an organized crime gang in Ho Chi Minh
City, began on February 25, 2003. In all, 155 persons were
indicted, including two Central Committee members (one a
Deputy Minister of Public Security and another the head of
Voice of Vietnam Radio), as well as the second-ranking
prosecutor in Vietnam and over a dozen lower ranking law
enforcement officials. Charges include murder, bribery,
gambling, drug trafficking, alien smuggling, and extortion.
Even before the trial began, the CPV and GVN stripped the
two Central Committee members from their party and
governmental posts.

The GVN agreed to accept Swedish ODA for an anti-corruption
project in September 2002, the first time the GVN has
allowed foreigners directly to address the subject.

Post's contacts almost uniformly indicate that corruption
facilitates trafficking, but reject the notion that
corruption drives trafficking or that trafficking is
actually encouraged by GVN officials.

I. The GVN has been an active participant in multinational
and international conferences on trafficking and related
issues where trafficking is discussed. In 2001, the GVN
sent a delegation to the Second World Congress against the
Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children in Yokohama. In
February 2002, Vietnam was represented at the Vice Foreign
Minister level at the regional conference on People
Smuggling and Trafficking in Persons in Bali, Indonesia.
The UNDP and ILO regional anti-trafficking projects both
contain components intended to improve regional cooperation
on this issue, and the GVN officials working in this area
support these efforts. GVN officials working on trafficking
visited China in 2001 and visited Cambodia in March 2002 to
share information and improve cooperative efforts to
prevent, monitor, and control trafficking. GVN officials
participated in UNICEF-sponsored meetings with their Chinese
counterparts in March and November 2002 to increase cross-
border law enforcement cooperation on trafficking in
persons. Law enforcement officials on the border meet
regularly with their Chinese counterparts to exchange
information and coordinate activities.

J. As noted in 16. G, the GVN has developed a five-year
plan of action for 2001-2005 against prostitution that
addresses some trafficking-related problems. A one-year
progress report will be available soon. MOLISA is also
discussing a more specific plan of action against
trafficking. This plan could dovetail with creation of new
working group on trafficking in persons. (See 17. H.)
However, MOLISA has not yet consulted several other
ministries, including the MOJ, and will need them to weigh
in. Nonetheless, some observers predict that the plan could
be completed by the end of 2003.

K. MOLISA is responsible for prevention and rehabilitation
policies, MPS and the Supreme People's Procuracy for law
enforcement and prosecution, and MOJ for legislation.
Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Ministry of Defense also
have roles, as do some smaller government entities.

18. Investigation and Prosecution of Traffickers:

A. Article 119 of the Criminal Code prohibits and
prescribes punishment for trafficking in women; Article 120
prohibits and prescribes punishment for trafficking in
children. There is no law that specifically prohibits
trafficking in men; however, Chapter VI, Article 24,
Paragraph 1 of Decree No. 152/1999/ND-CP could be used to
discipline traffickers who recruit or send men abroad to
work for "illegitimate profits" or illegal purposes. In
severe cases, this decree contemplates criminal punishment
but does not set out a specific sentence for such a crime.
Save the Children recently published a comparative study on
the legal provisions of Mekong sub-region countries on
trafficking in women and children, and noted that, according
to Vietnamese law, "offenders" must have "traded" victims.
It also reported that Vietnam's law does not "deem that the
offense of human trafficking can be committed even with the
victim's consent," as do the laws of Cambodia and Thailand.
Therefore, Vietnamese anti-trafficking laws may not include
cases where the victim went willingly, but, for instance,
later was unable to leave, or was placed in debt bondage.
In practice, GVN authorities nonetheless seem to treat at
least some such cases as trafficking anyway. For instance,
MPS is investigating persons who allegedly tricked women
into going to Malaysia in 2002 under the aegis of labor
export, only to find themselves forced into prostitution.

The GVN revised its Marriage and Family law in 2002 to curb
abuse of marriage, recognition of parents and children, or
adoption for the purpose of selling, buying or exploitation
of for labor, sexual or other commercial purposes (Ref C).
While much of the new law aimed at tightening up
international adoption procedures, it adds another measure
to prosecute some human traffickers and prohibits private
marriage brokerage services that have been used as a
mechanism for trafficking to Taiwan and elsewhere.

The GVN also tightened up regulations on labor exports (Ref
D), another mechanism that has been exploited for
trafficking. Companies are now required to have 7 billion
VN dong (about US$455,000) in registered capital, have at
least seven managers with tertiary education and foreign
language abilities, have their own training facilities and
connections to an independent training facility, and provide
workers training, according to explicit GVN requirements.
The GVN is reviewing contracts between workers and labor
export companies and has reduced fees that companies can
charge to workers. It has also mandated training for
company managers and representatives in relevant host
country and Vietnamese laws. The GVN is continuing to
review its labor export programs to tighten them up further.

The GVN is also studying the legal changes required to
ratify and implement the Optional Protocol Against
Trafficking in Women and Children of the TNOC.

B. The penalties for trafficking in women are 2-7 years in
prison, with heavier sentences of 5-20 years for more
serious crimes involving organized criminal activity
(literally, "in an organized manner"), trafficking abroad,
trafficking more than one person, or a repeat offence. The
penalties for trafficking in children are 3-10 years, with
heavier sentences of 10-20 years or life for more serious
crimes involving organized criminal activity, trafficking
abroad, for "despicable or inhuman" purposes, for
prostitution, for trafficking more than one child, or a
repeat offense. No changes were made in 2002.

C. The penalty for rape is 2-7 years imprisonment, or 5-10
years if it involves a victim age 16-18. If it involves
organized criminal activity, gang rape, a repeat offense,
incest, or multiple victims, as well as if it results in 31%-
60% impairment of the victim, or if she is impregnated, the
penalty is 7-15 years. Rape can be a capital offense if the
victim commits suicide as a result, is infected with HIV, or
is left more than 61% impaired. Rape of a child 13-16 years
old results in a 7-15 year sentence. Any sexual intercourse
with a child under 13 years of age is considered rape; the
offender can be sentenced to 12 years to life or to death.
If the rape of a child 13-16 involves incest, a ward of the
offender, results in 31-60% impairment of the victim, or
impregnating the victim, the sentence is 12-20 years. If
the rape of a child 13-16 years old involves organized
criminal activity, a repeat offense, gang rape, impairment
greater that 61%, commission of a crime when the offender
knows he is HIV positive, or leads to the suicide of the
victim, the punishment is 20 years to life or death. No
changes were made in 2002.

D. See the statistics listed in the overview section
concerning court cases. Unfortunately, these data are not
disaggregated according to numbers arrested and indicted.
Post has no information concerning the number of
convictions, although we presume it is high based on usual
judicial practice. Nor has the GVN made available
information on the penalties actually applied to those
convicted. UNODCP has discussed the possibility of
collecting crime statistics in an Office on Crime Statistics
in the Supreme People's Procuracy.

E. See 16. F. MPS Criminal Police have reported that they
have detected increasing organized crime involvement in
trafficking in persons, but such criminal groups appear to
be specialized cells with informal links to other groups.
Most of them are not transnational in nature, but some have
used travel agencies, employment services, and marriage
brokerage services as fronts. Based on this concern, the
GVN outlawed private marriage brokerage services during
2002. The GVN also reviewed and tightened licensing
requirements for overseas employment services. IOM reports
that anecdotal evidence suggests traffickers are often
individual brokers, who link up with more organized groups
outside Vietnam. DEA confirms that most Vietnamese
traffickers are independent agents or working in small
unorganized groups. There is little evidence that GVN
officials are actively involved in trafficking. There is
little or no information on where profits from trafficking
in persons are being channeled.

F. The GVN actively investigates cases of trafficking that
come to its attention. GVN authorities have worked with
foreign law enforcement officials, including the INS and the
Australian Federal Police, to investigate and interdict
trafficking cases, including fraudulent adoptions.
According an INS official in Vietnam, this cooperation has
progressed so that not only do GVN officials react to tips
and queries, but also seek advice and collaboration on
suspected cases. Cooperation continued to improve in 2002.
However, GVN authorities apparently do not pursue detection
of trafficking in persons with the same intensity as they do
other crimes, such as narcotics trafficking, that appear to
them more clearly to threaten their national interests. In
large part, this is because the magnitude of the problem is
not, in the authorities' judgment, great enough to warrant
the resources such an effort would require.

Vietnamese law enforcement does not use special
investigative techniques in trafficking investigations. The
GVN takes the position that such techniques are not
specifically authorized under Vietnamese law. In November
2000, the GVN changed the law to permit the use of such
techniques, but only for narcotics investigations, effective
June 1, 2001.

G. The limited training for GVN officials on investigation
of trafficking in persons has been given primarily to border

H. Yes. GVN authorities work closely with countries within
the INTERPOL and ASEANPOL frameworks. Vietnam has entered
into bilateral agreements with China and Australia
concerning cooperation in combating crimes including
trafficking in woman and children. Significant cooperation
has yet to materialize with China, although observers state
both sides genuinely appear to be working toward that goal.
Vietnam also cooperates bilaterally with a number of its
neighbors via anti-crime agreements, extradition treaties,
and mutual criminal justice assistance undertakings, all of
which could apply to pursuing trafficking cases. The GVN
also works with a number of international organizations,
such as UNICEF, UNDP, and ECPAT, to increase protection
provided to women and children.

I. Post is not aware of that Vietnam has been asked to
extradite persons charged with trafficking in other
countries, whether third country nationals or its own
citizens. Vietnamese law does not prohibit extradition of
its own nationals.

J. See 16. H.

K. The GVN and the CPV have formally made fighting official
corruption a priority. (See 17. H.) Despite increasingly
high profile prosecutions, Vietnam's anti-corruption
campaign is not yet highly credible, comprehensive, or
effective. Contacts in and out of the GVN, as well as some
media reports, indicate that individual low- and mid-level
officials have at times facilitated trafficking. There are
anecdotal reports of GVN officials caught and tried for
involvement in trafficking cases, but Post has no systematic
or detailed information to substantiate such reports. MOJ
officials noted four such cases in 2002, but admitted that
their knowledge is incomplete. Certainly, as in other areas
involving corrupt officials, more can and should be done
systematically to pursue and prevent cases of official

L. Vietnam ratified Convention 182 on November 17, 2000.

Vietnam is studying the steps necessary to ratify ILO
Conventions 29 and 105 on forced or compulsory labor.

Vietnam has ratified the Optional Protocol to the Convention
on the Rights of the Child on the Sale of Children, Child
Prostitution, and Child Pornography.

Vietnam is studying the necessary legal and systematic
changes to sign and implement the Optional Protocol to
Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons,
Especially Women and Children of the TNOC.

19. Protection and Assistance to Victims:

A. The GVN provides assistance to some victims of
trafficking. The Women's Union and CPFC have established
rehabilitation programs to help treat, counsel, and
reintegrate trafficking victims, and receive some
international technical and financial support. (Note: The
USG funds IOM assistance to several such centers. The USG-
funded ILO-IPEC Child Labor project includes a small rescue
initiative aimed at trafficked children in urban areas. End
note) These organizations clearly want to expand their
efforts, but have only limited domestic funding.
Independent GVN agencies like the CPFC are seriously under-
funded. Mass organizations, like the Women's Union,
typically must generate most of their own funds through
dues, economic activities, or securing funding from foreign
organizations. Therefore, the CPFC and the Women's Union
will likely continue to seek additional domestic and foreign
funding to pursue victim protection, rehabilitation, and
reintegration. Services provided (for some returnees from
Cambodia and China) included temporary shelter, vocational
training, small loans to start businesses, medical
treatment, and sometimes counseling. As part of its planned
anti-trafficking project, the Asia Foundation will work with
the MOJ's Legal Assistance Department to provide legal
counseling to trafficking victims.

However, some GVN officials tend to focus on engaging in
prostitution as a "social evil" rather than viewing the
prostitutes as victims.

B. The GVN and mass organizations such as the Women's
Union have provided in-kind assistance to rehabilitation
projects funded by international donors. Generally,
assistance flows the other way, from foreign NGOs and donors
to GVN entities. In general, the GVN's and mass
organizations' in-kind contributions include human resources
and logistical support and occasionally office space. The
Women's Union has used some of its own resources to fund
prevention and victim rehabilitation work, but generally
waits until the international funding is no longer available
and then uses its very limited funds to sustain the efforts.

C. In general, the GVN seeks to assist trafficking
victims, and it does not generally treat victims as
criminals. Sometimes victims are prosecuted because of
engagement in prostitution, but as noted above, prosecution
usually is focused on women who voluntarily engage in
commercial sex related activities. In Vietnam, those found
guilty of engaging in prostitution are not jailed with
criminals. Rather, MOLISA runs 40-plus facilities, commonly
referred to as rehabilitation or re-education centers, where
prostitutes receive medical treatment, vocational training,
and "improved social values." Generally, those caught
engaging in prostitution -- voluntarily or as victims of
trafficking -- are sent to these centers for 3 months to 1
year, and they are not free to leave until the designated
term is up. MOLISA officials have pointed out that many
choose to stay well beyond these periods because they do not
want to return to prostitution but are uncertain of their
ability to support themselves outside or are hesitant to
return to their home communities. They also noted that the
vast majority voluntarily engaged in commercial sex work.
While some GVN officials appeared aware that trafficked
women, by contrast, did not enter prostitution voluntarily
and are victims, GVN officials have justified the obligatory
terms such victims can be required to spend in such centers
on public health grounds, saying that 80% of prostitutes
entering these centers are infected with one or more
sexually transmitted diseases and must be treated.

While no outside experts with whom emboffs have had contact
believe that these camps are effective, much less
appropriate, for victims of trafficking, experts have
pointed out that no commercial sex workers are imprisoned
under GVN policy. Nor do they have criminal records.
Trafficking victims are not immediately returned to their
communities, where they would likely be treated as outcasts
and run the risk of being trafficked again. The experts
would much prefer to see more victims' assistance programs,
such as those run by the Women's Union and the CPFC. The
experts noted that the more experience GVN authorities have
with victim's assistance programs, the more the authorities
prefer to put trafficking victims into such programs. But
without sufficient funds to expand these programs, GVN
authorities have few alternatives to the above-mentioned

D. We are not aware whether victims are encouraged to
assist in the investigation or prosecution of cases.
Technically, victims have a number of means to seek civil
action against their traffickers. There are also means for
victims to pursue criminal action. Vietnamese law expressly
requires criminal offenders to compensate their victims.
Post is not aware of any case in which a victim's access to
such legal redress has been impeded. (See 18. A. for
efforts to provide legal assistance to victims.) Experts
have observed that trafficking victims are often reluctant
to speak to police about the crimes committed against them,
however. NGOs have received commitments from the Women's
Union and MPS's Criminal Police to receive training for
community-level personnel in interviewing techniques to
encourage victims to report crimes that they might be
unwilling to speak about.

E. The GVN, in concert with NGOs, provides some shelter,
such as temporary housing, for some returnees from China and
Cambodia. Article 19 of the Criminal Procedure Code allows
a closed trial when necessary to protect victims' privacy,
but there are no other legal protections for victims or
witnesses. We are not aware of any case of a witness being

F. Some GVN officials receive training on how to assist
victims. However, because training funding is scarce, the
achievements of such training are limited. Vietnamese
embassies and consulates abroad are charged with the
protection of Vietnamese citizens in their jurisdictions.
The GVN continues to seek to expand training to foreign
embassy and consulate personnel.

G. Yes, the GVN provides assistance to victims as described

H. Radda Barnen (Save the Children-Sweden) and Save the
Children-UK work on public education, advocacy, and
assistance to trafficked children. CARE and Family Health
International help provide assistance to trafficked persons
who have HIV. The Asia Foundation initiated an anti-
trafficking project and has applied for G/TIP funding to
expand it to other provinces in Vietnam. While not NGOs,
IOM, ILO, UNDP, UNODCP, and UNICEF are actively providing
assistance to the GVN in trafficking in persons, some of
which is supported through USG funding. A domestic quasi-
NGO, the Center for Reproductive and Family Health, works in
the prevention and victims' assistance areas and is actively
soliciting international funds to do more. As with all NGO
and international donor activities in Vietnam, cooperation
with local officials depends on long, patient relationship
building. Several organizations, such as IOM, have
succeeded in identifying and developing close working
contacts with key community leaders, such as Women's Union
representatives in key border provinces.

End response to questions.

© Scoop Media

World Headlines


Abu Akleh Shooting: Fatal Shot Came From Israeli Forces, Says OHCHR
Israeli forces were behind the fatal shooting of Al Jazeera journalist Shireen Abu Akleh in the West Bank - not indiscriminate Palestinian firing - the UN human rights office, OHCHR, alleged on Friday... More>>

Ethiopia: Conflict, Drought, Dwindling Food Support, Threatens Lives Of 20 Million

Hunger is tightening its grip on more than 20 million Ethiopians who are facing conflict in the north, drought in the south and dwindling food and nutrition support beginning next month, the UN food relief agency warned on Thursday... More>>

Euro Med Monitor: Syria Cross-border Aid Mechanism Extension Is Necessary For The Survival Of Millions

Permanent members of the UN Security Council should extend the cross-border aid to northwestern Syria, Euro-Med Human Rights Monitor said Tuesday in a statement...

UN Ocean Conference: Opens With Call For Urgent Action To Tackle Ocean Emergency
With climate change, biodiversity loss and pollution exacting a devastating toll on the world’s ocean — critical to food security, economic growth and the environment... More>>

World Vision: Deeply Concerned For Thousands Affected By Afghanistan Quake
World Vision is deeply concerned about the deteriorating humanitarian situation in Afghanistan in the wake of a powerful earthquake in the early hours of this morning... More>>

Malaysia: UN Experts Welcome Announcement To Abolish Mandatory Death Penalty

UN human rights experts* today commended an announcement made by the Malaysian government that it will abolish the country’s mandatory death penalty and encouraged Parliament to take concrete steps to pass the agreement into law... More>>