Scoop has an Ethical Paywall
Work smarter with a Pro licence Learn More

Search

 

Cablegate: Burma: Response to Fifth Annual Anti-Trafficking

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

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 10 RANGOON 000291

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE

STATE FOR EAP/BCLTV; PACOM FOR FPA

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PHUM ELAB SMIG ASEC PREF KCRM KWMN KFRD BM
SUBJECT: BURMA: RESPONSE TO FIFTH ANNUAL ANTI-TRAFFICKING
IN PERSONS QUESTIONNAIRE

REF: STATE 273089

1. (SBU) Summary: The following report contains Post's
responses to the fifth annual anti-trafficking in persons
questionnaire contained in reftel requesting information on
trafficking in persons in Burma from March 2004 to March
2005. End Summary.

2. (U) Embassy point of contact on TIP is poloff Dean
Tidwell, E-mail: TidwellDD@state.gov. Approximate amount of
time required to prepare this report was: 1 hour by an FS-MC,
2 hours by an FS-OC, 2 hours by an FS-02, 1 hour by an FS-03,
38 hours by an FS-04 and 6 hours by an FSN-6, for a total of
50 hours.

BEGIN REPORT
------------

OVERVIEW OF ACTIVITIES TO ELIMINATE TRAFFICKING IN PERSONS:

--A. Burma is considered a &country of origin8 for
international trafficked persons with Thailand and China the
primary &destination8 countries. However, it is also a
destination country for &internally8 trafficked persons.
Trafficking of persons from rural areas to the major cities
occurs and widespread forced labor still continues throughout
the country.

Advertisement - scroll to continue reading

Are you getting our free newsletter?

Subscribe to Scoop’s 'The Catch Up' our free weekly newsletter sent to your inbox every Monday with stories from across our network.

Tachileik, Myawaddy, and Kawthoung are the key trafficking
exit points from Burma to Thailand. There are several routes
into China, with a key route being through Muse in northern
Shan State. The Myanmar Police Force,s (MPF)
Anti-Trafficking Unit has teams stationed in the border towns
of Muse, Tachileik Myawaddy, Lweje, and Kawthoung. Other
than an Anti-Trafficking Unit being based in Rangoon, it
appears that these units are focused on border activities
and not on the major cities of Burma.

There may be small numbers of persons who are trafficked
through areas outside the GOB,s control, e.g. through areas
controlled by the United Wa State Army and other ethnic
cease-fire groups, but the primary routes are believed to be
through the &gates8 that are under government control.

The Government of Burma (GOB) itself is a main information
source. The Ministry of Home Affairs has a Transnational
Organized Crime department and under this is a special
Anti-Trafficking Unit. UN agencies in Burma, foreign
missions, and NGOs also provide information on trafficking in
Burma.

Women and girls of ethnic groups are considered the most
vulnerable. They are mostly very poor and illiterate.
Unfortunately, because Burma is a very restrictive country,
it is impossible to obtain specific numbers of trafficked
persons. The GOB has provided some specific figures for
intercepted cases and prosecuted cases. The ILO has provided
figures on forced labor prosecution cases.

The GOB,s Preventive Working Committee on Trafficking was
formed in July 2002. Since then it has reported the
following activities:

Total cases: 474
Offenders: 939 persons
Convictions: 485 persons
Penalties (Sentences):
Life Sentence: 2 persons
10 years or more: 85 persons
5-10 years: 177 persons
Less than 5 years: 78 persons
Saved Victims: 2,629 persons (Females = 1,225)

According to an Australian expert in trafficking who has been
working closely with the MPF,s Anti-Trafficking Unit, these
figures include trafficked persons as well as smuggled
persons, who are by definition not technically trafficked.
He estimated that the majority of these figures represent
smuggling rather than trafficking cases.

--B. The persons are who are trafficked internationally come
primarily from Shan State, Karen State, Mon State, and
Tanintharyi Division. Trafficking cases to Thailand
primarily pass through Tachileik Myawaddy, and Kawthoung and
to China through Muse and other smaller entry points. The
MPF reports almost no cases of trafficking to India and
Bangladesh. (Such cases may exist, but the GOB has not
rescued many victims or apprehended perpetrators in those
areas.)

--C. We are not aware of any changes in the direction or
extent of trafficking. As long as Burma remains poor and the
economy is struggling, the &pull8 to more economically
vibrant Thailand and China, as to other countries in the
region, will likely continue.

--D. UNICEF and the Department of Social Welfare plan to
conduct a survey of children's issues in 12 townships in
2005. World Vision recently conducted surveys and obtained
useful data that will help document the extent and nature of
trafficking.

--E. The persons who are trafficked within the country are
trafficked for prostitution, domestic servitude, and forced
labor (by civilian authorities and by the military.)
Threats, intimidation, and debt bondage are used to keep the
victims compliant.

--F. Women and girls of ethnic groups are primary targets of
traffickers, although there may be limited numbers of men and
boys who are also trafficked. It is believed that the
majority of the traffickers are minor operators and not large
networks.

All of the above methods are used. Typically, the victims
are poor so they can easily be lured with offers to help them
get a job. Later they end up doing different jobs,
especially prostitution. There are reports of girls from
Shan State, following the banning of opium production, being
sold by their families into prostitution as a means of
survival.

In most cases, the victims do not have any kind of papers.
They are smuggled across borders, often with the knowledge of
border control officials who are paid to look the other way.

--G. A &very High Level Team8 from ILO visited Rangoon
February 21-23, 2005. The three-person team, headed by former
governor-general of Australia, Sir Ninian Stephen, came for
the express purpose of meeting with the highest levels of the
GOB to assess their commitment to stop forced labor by
civilian and military leaders. They were unable to meet with
the highest officials in the SPDC, nor were they able to talk
to defense officials, therefore they curtailed their
scheduled departure for February 25 and departed two days
earlier. They felt they had completed their technical talks
and the unavailability of the top leaders was a strong
indicator of their level of commitment to seriously address
the issue of forced labor.

Yes, there seems to be reasonably strong political will in
the central government to combat trafficking in persons,
although the attitudes of the senior-most officials is
unknown. After signing a bilateral Memorandum of
Understanding (MOU) between Australia and Burma, a project
called &Asia Regional Cooperation to Prevent Peoples
Trafficking8 (ARCPPT), was begun in December 2003. Funded
by AusAID, it is being implemented simultaneously in Burma,
Cambodia, Laos, and Thailand. An Australian law enforcement
expert directs the project in Burma. The project aims to
increase the capacity of the MPF to combat trafficking of
persons. An encouraging outcome is that 1/3 of the agents
are women, a new concept in Burmese law enforcement. In
role-plays and training, the women agents clearly
demonstrated to their male colleagues the effectiveness of
women working with women trafficking victims. The agents now
possess significantly improved investigative skills.

On the advice of ARCPPT, the Ministry of Home Affairs
established a division under the MPF to combat Transnational
Organized Crime. Under this department of the MPF is a
special Anti-Trafficking Unit. The unit is comprised of 40
agents of whom 32 have completed extensive training through
the ARCPPT program during 2004 in order to increase their
capacity to combat trafficking in persons.

In January 2004, the GOB established a taskforce, composed of
representatives from the Ministry of Home Affairs, the
Ministry of Social Welfare, the Ministry of Labor, the
Supreme Court, and the Attorney General,s office to draft a
&Prevention of Trafficking in Persons Law.8 Previously,
judges drew on colonial British laws to convict persons
believed to be engaged in trafficking. Some of these laws
included: 1861 Criminal Acts, 1947 Immigration Act, 1949
Prostitution Suppression Act, 1993 Child Law, and the 1999
Overseas Employment Act, that dealt with immigration and
smuggling.
In September 2004, the UN-Inter Agency Project on Human
Trafficking in the Greater Mekong Sub-region (UNIAP)
implemented a 2-day workshop to review the draft of the
trafficking law. UNIAP invited national and international
legal experts to participate and give their comments,
recommendations, and suggestions. Representatives of UNODC
and ARCPPT participated, as well as the key NGOs that are
involved in trafficking matters in Burma, e.g. Save the
Children (UK) and World Vision.

Following the workshop the taskforce accepted some of the
recommendations, including provisions for the rights of child
victims and to make the law more closely follow the
principles and guidelines of the UN Commission for Human
Rights and the Convention against Transnational Organized
Crime and its protocols. According to the MPF, the law will
ensure that the rights of trafficked victims are protected
and that traffickers receive the maximum penalty. It will
also allow the property of traffickers and their accomplices
to be frozen.

The draft law is now with the Ministry of Home Affairs, which
is taking the lead in drafting the law. The law must next be
submitted to the Attorney General,s office to ensure that
the terminology of the law is legally correct. After the
Attorney General,s office has completed its work the law
will be submitted to the cabinet for approval. UNIAP believes
the law will be enacted sometime during 2005, although they
admit that the installation of a new Home Affairs Minister in
late 2004 might result in delays.

Burma was host for the Coordinated Mekong Ministerial
Initiative against Trafficking in the Greater Mekong
Sub-region: Senior Officials and Ministerial Meetings
(COMMIT) from October 27-29, 2004 in Rangoon. The
participating countries were Cambodia, China, Lao PDR,
Thailand, Vietnam, and Burma. Key outputs of the conference
were a COMMIT "MOU to Combat Trafficking", which was signed
by all the participating countries, and the approval of a
"Sub-regional Plan of Action to Combat Human Trafficking."
Burma had earlier approved its own TIP Plan of Action, so the
it is now in the process of revising the earlier plan to make
it compatible with the new Sub-regional plan.

--H. GOB officials at lower levels reportedly sometimes
facilitate or condone trafficking. Some government
officials, particularly along the borders, accept bribes from
traffickers. We are not aware of any punitive measures that
have been taken against officials who facilitate cross-border
trafficking.

In terms of internal trafficking, cases were lodged in civil
courts against local authorities for using forced labor to
construct roads. In a landmark decision, on January 31,
2005, four persons were found guilty by the Kawhmu Township
Court of Rangoon Division of using forced labor. Each
official was sentenced to 8 months in prison. (One official
was charged in two separate cases, so received two,
consecutive 8-month sentences.) Three other pending cases
that were raised by ILO concluded on February 28, 20054 in
Rakhine State. In these three cases a judge found four local
authorities guilty of committing forced labor and were meted
out 6-month sentences. These cases have set a precedent and
could bode well for reducing future abuses of forced labor by
civil authorities. The ILO feels that these convictions
would not have been handed down without authorization from
the highest levels of the SPDC.

However, reports of the use of forced labor by the Burmese
army continue to come in. In Mon, Karen, Kayah, and southern
Shan States, civilians are forced to build barracks for the
army, to carry ammunition and supplies, and in some cases to
act as human minesweepers. The ILO has also raised some
forced labor cases in Chin State. The MPF has correctly
pointed out that its officials have no control over and
cannot comment on alleged forced labor or child conscription
cases by the military.

--I. A lack of commitment by the top-levels of the SPDC
constitutes a serious constraint on tackling trafficking in
persons. This apparent lack of commitment may explain why
there is also a chronic lack of GOB funds available for
trafficking issues. Although an Anti-Trafficking Unit has
been set up and their personnel have received training by
Australian professionals, the unit comprises only 40 persons,
so their ability to curb trafficking on a nationwide-basis is
limited.

--J. Self-monitoring of its anti-trafficking efforts remains
a weakness of the government. Once the 40 members of the
new Anti-Trafficking Unit are deployed to the field,
activities to prosecute, prevent, and protect victims may be
more effective. Burma is cooperating both with China and
Thailand to curb trafficking to those countries.

The GOB has established a Trafficking Working Group (TWG)
that meets every 6 weeks to discuss and coordinate
trafficking-related matters. The TWG is multi-sectoral and
includes the Supreme Court, Ministry of Home Affairs
(including the MPF), Ministry of Labor, Ministry of Social
Welfare, Relief and Resettlement, Ministry of Immigration and
Population, Myanmar Women Affairs Federation, and Myanmar
Maternal Child Welfare Association. It is an attempt to
promote greater cross-ministerial cooperation and
coordination.

--K. Prostitution is not legal in Burma. Prostitutes, pimps,
and procurers are subject to punishment, but there is no
specific law against clients. However, the laws against
prostitution are unevenly enforced and may be enforced
according to the whims of the police. In some of the Shan
State border areas with China, there are large casinos with
attached brothels. It appears that most of the casino staff
and prostitutes are imported from China and other countries
and most, if not all, of the clients are Chinese. The
prostitutes at these establishments are reportedly subject to
harassment and blackmail by police.

PREVENTION:

--A. Yes, the GOB acknowledges that trafficking of Burmese
citizens to Thailand and China is a problem and they are
drafting laws and upgrading their enforcement agencies to
combat the problem. The MPF readily admits that there have
been forced labor violations by civil authorities and now the
courts are finally starting to punish the offenders.
However, the MPF stated frankly that what the military does
regarding forced labor or conscripting child soldiers is
outside their jurisdiction.

In a grudging acknowledgment that the recruitment of child
soldiers is a problem, on January 5, 2004 the SPDC formed the
Committee for Prevention of Military Recruitment of Under-age
Children. This committee is chaired by Secretary-1 of the
SPDC and its stated purpose is &to prevent the forced
recruitment of under-age children as soldiers; to protect the
interests of under-age children, and to ensure adherence to
the orders and instructions issued for the protection of
under-age children.8 A Plan of Action was drafted involving
some participation by UNICEF.

In 2004, the GOB organized two visits by UNICEF to army
recruitment centers. While UNICEF admits that these were
public relations events staged by the military and the visits
did not uncover any child soldiers, UNICEF feels that the
importance of the visits is the fact that the military has
finally agreed to open a dialogue on child soldier issues.
Previously, the military would not even discuss it, claiming
it did not exist.
--B. The primary GOB agency involved in anti-trafficking
activities is the MPF of the Ministry of Home Affairs. Under
the division of Transnational Organized Crime is a special
Anti-trafficking Unit. The unit currently consists of 40
persons who have undergone intensive training to increase
their capacity to monitor and enforce anti-trafficking.
(See paragraphs "G" and &J8 in the previous section.)

--C. The Myanmar National Committee on Women's Affairs
(MNCWA) has initiated information, education, and
communication (IEC) campaigns through various media,
including: training workshops, educational talks, radio
broadcasts, production of pamphlets, posters, comic books,
and video plays. Some of these materials have been published
in ethnic languages and some attempts have been made to visit
ethnic areas to educate women and girls at the grass roots.

We do not know of any GOB sponsored campaigns that target
&clients.8

ARCPPT has provided some awareness training to judges and
local authorities in some states and divisions.

UNIAP has facilitated the publication of a newsletter on
trafficking in persons. To date there have been three
issues, the first being printed in December 2003 and the
latest in August 2004. The newsletter provides interesting
news and documentation on TIPS in Burma and publishes a
calendar of TIPS events and activities.

The GOB says that it has conducted a total of eight TIP
awareness workshops at State and Division levels and has
mobile IEC teams that travel around the country. The GOB
claims that nearly 700,000 persons have been educated on TIP
issues.

--D. The GOB has provided skills training to help
rehabilitate trafficked women who have returned to Burma from
Thailand and to hopefully prevent their return to Thailand.
However, the number of women who have officially returned and
who have undergone training is small.

The GOB established a special Reception Center at Myawaddy in
February 2002 to receive trafficking victims who return from
Thailand. According to official government figures, as of
July 31, 2004, as many as 13,738 returnees had passed through
this center. Of these 10,218 were male, 3,520 were female,
and 331 were children. The preponderance of males compared
to female returnees raises questions of whether these were
really trafficking victims or smuggling cases.

--E. The GOB has not allocated significant funds to support
prevention programs. The ARCPPT project, which is supported
by funds from AusAID and other agencies, is designed to
increase the capacity of the police to prevent trafficking
and to properly investigate trafficking cases, but it is
still too early to measure any significant results of this
capacity building.
--F. The MPF, through its Anti-trafficking Unit, and the
MNCWA, are the key GOB agencies working to eliminate
trafficking.

The MNCWA is chaired by the Deputy Minister of Home Affairs
and collaborates with both the Ministry of Home Affairs and
the Ministry of Social Welfare, Relief and Resettlement. It
focuses its efforts on prevention, prosecution, and
rehabilitation of trafficking victims and tries to support
the victims through research, capacity building, awareness
raising, and networking. MNCWA networks with government
ministries, UN agencies, and NGOs.

There are several committees formed by MNCWA that deal with
trafficking issues. Two of these committees are the
Preventative Working Committee for Trafficking in Persons
(PWCTIP), formed in 2002, and the Control Committee for
Illegal Migrant Workers, formed in July 2004. The Myanmar
Women's Affairs Federation (MWAF) was established as a GONGO
in December 2003 with a major objective to reduce cases of
trafficking in women and children. The MNCWA uses the MWAF
as an implementing partner in combating trafficking. (The
MWAF is considered the turf of the wives of the leading
generals. After the purge of Prime Minister General Khin
Nyunt in October 2004, other generals, wives replaced the
ladies on this committee and the group has continued.)
Both of these government agencies are involved in the UN
Inter-agency Project on Human Trafficking in the Greater
Mekong Sub-region (UNIAP), which includes the countries of
Cambodia, China, Laos, Burma, Thailand, and Vietnam. These
governments, UN agencies, and local and international NGOs
are working together to combat trafficking. In Burma, other
UN agencies that are involved are UNICEF (Child Protection)
and UNDP/FAO (Food Security). UNICEF conducted a workshop on
Monitoring and Combating Commercial Sexual Exploitation of
Children and Trafficking in Rangoon on May 18-19, 2004.

In Myanmar, UNIAP is &housed8 in the UNICEF office. It
receives financial support from a variety of donors,
including the UN Foundation, AusAID, the Netherlands, SIDA,
the United States, New Zealand, UNDP, and ADB.

From 2004-2006 UNIAP,s goals are to 1) build a knowledge
base, 2) strategic analysis and priority setting, 3) target
interventions and research, and 4) advocacy.

Key UNIAP activities for this same period will include: 1)
establish a reference center of human trafficking, 2) produce
a trafficking newsletter on a regular basis, 3) update
mapping of anti-trafficking projects in Myanmar, 4) identify
areas for research, 5) capacity building of local NGOs and
strengthening networks, 6) training on gender, trafficking,
and other related issues, 7) provide secretariat services to
the Informal Working Group on trafficking, 8) support
innovative public awareness, and 9) facilitate bilateral and
multi-lateral cooperation among participating countries.

Key NGOs partners in Burma include Save the Children (UK),
World Vision, and others who are promoting increased
surveillance, awareness, and prevention of trafficking in
persons.

--G. The GOB,s monitoring of its borders for trafficking is
very inadequate. The border areas are very remote and poorly
patrolled. Guards and other agents posted to border
crossings are preoccupied with controlling trade and
maintaining security and have little time for tracking
trafficking issues. This situation may improve once the
Anti-trafficking Unit is able to deploy its staff to key
border points and is able to conduct awareness raising
training among border control personnel.

--H. Yes, the Trafficking Working Group was mentioned under
paragraph &B8 in the previous section. The
Anti-Trafficking Unit is under the MPF,s division of
Transnational Organized Crime, which deals with a variety of
issues besides trafficking, including money laundering, drug
smuggling, etc.

Although corruption is illegal, we are not aware of a
&public corruption8 task force that monitors corruption in
general. Corruption is rampant in Burma from low-level
government employees up through top military officers, and
their families, who control much of the business activity.
However, corruption is tolerated as a fact in Burma, and
senior officials appear to be &immune8 from corruption
charges, as long as they do not run afoul of their military
cronies. Otherwise, the SPDC cracks down on corruption
whenever they wish to expose a colleague or try to shut down
a politician or political organization of which they
disapprove.

--I. Yes, the GOB actively participates in multinational
working groups on trafficking. Reference has already been
made to their participation in UNIAP. In addition, Burma
hosted a meeting in Rangoon of the Coordinated Mekong
Ministerial Initiative Against Trafficking (COMMIT) on
October 27-29, 2004. This meeting included the Greater
Mekong Sub-region countries of Burma, Cambodia, China, Laos,
Thailand, and Vietnam.
--J. Yes, the GOB has a national plan of action. However,
following the COMMIT conference when six countries agreed to
a joint plan of action, Burma has been revising its plan of
action to bring it into line with the regional plan. Once
the revised plan of action has been approved it will
disseminate it to the relevant government ministries, civil
authorities, and judicial system. We are not aware of any
NGO participation in the revision of the Plan of Action.
UNICEF believes that the plan of action may have been shown
to an international expert who participated in the workshop
to study the draft TIP law.
--K. The Ministry of Home Affairs is the lead agency in
trafficking issues. The MPF,s Department of Transnational
Crime, through its Anti-Trafficking Unit, is the focal point
for enforcement. Other ministries, including the Ministry of
Labor and the Ministry of Social Welfare, are also involved.

INVESTIGATION AND PROSECUTION OF TRAFFICKERS:

--A. See paragraph &G8 in the first section for a summary
of progress on drafting the "Prevention of Trafficking in
Persons Law.8

In the absence of a specific anti-trafficking law,
traffickers have been prosecuted under laws dealing with
immigration and smuggling. The Australian law enforcement
expert who has been managing the ARCPPT project and who has
worked on the draft law states that it is probably the best
anti-trafficking law of the four countries (Burma, Cambodia,
Laos, and Thailand) where the project is being implemented.
However, he admits that the overall legal system in Burma has
many gaps, so while the law may be good, its legal foundation
is not solid, thus enforcement will be problematic.

On April 28, 2004, the GOB enacted the &Mutual Assistance in
Criminal Matters Law.8 This is potentially an important law
for interstate cooperation in fighting transnational
organized crime, including trafficking in persons, although
it has not yet been tested. The GOB issued the regulations
for this law on October 14, 2004.

--B. According to the GOB, the penalties for trafficking in
persons range from 3 years to life in prison. Recent
sentences for offenders of forced labor have ranged between
6-8 months.

--C. The penalty for rape ranges from 10 years to life in
prison. The minimum penalty for trafficking appears to be
less than for rape, but the maximum penalty is the same.

--D. As noted in paragraph &H8 of the first section, in
January a local court actually sentenced four local
authorities to eight months in jail for using forced labor on
a road-building project. This was a first for Burma and sets
a precedent for future cases that may be lodged in court. In
a follow-up decision a month later four additional local
authorities were sentenced to six months in prison for using
forced labor. The ILO believes that this landmark decision
may embolden other victims of forced labor to take their
local authorities to court. We understand that the convicted
persons have started serving their sentences.

--E. We do not have any specific information about who
exactly is behind the trafficking. The MPF says that most of
the traffickers are minor operators. According to UNIAP,
they frequently are, or use, women to gain the confidence of
the victims, who are usually girls or women. We do not have
any specific information that front agencies are posing as
legitimate businesses for the purpose of trafficking. GOB
officials are involved, particularly with regard to internal
forced labor, but they may also be involved by accepting
bribes to ¬ see8 cross-border trafficking activities
taking place.

--F. Yes, the GOB does actively investigate cases of
trafficking and through recent training by ARCPPT, their
investigative skills are improving. However, the vast
numbers of trafficking cases that the government claims to
have investigated are actually migrant smuggling cases.

We believe that the police are not hampered with regulations
that specifically prevent the use of certain techniques for
investigating suspected cases.

--G. The valuable role of the ARCPPT project in training the
MPF,s Anti-Trafficking Unit has already been mentioned.
This training specifically addresses recognition and
investigation of TIP cases. As for prosecution, a few judges
have participated in awareness training of TIP issues and
ARCPPT plans to focus more on training judges and local
authorities in its future activities.

--H. Burma has been establishing links with China and
Thailand to cooperate in investigations of transnational
crime. Burma and China already have cases where they turned
over drug trafficking suspects to the other country and
similar cooperation is planned for trafficking in persons.
Bilateral cooperation has resulted in the arrest of 33 drug
dealers in China last year, according to Chinese sources.
Burma and China have already established three border liaison
offices for countering drug trafficking. This bodes well for
future cooperation on cross-border trafficking in persons.
We do not have any quantifiable data on cooperative
international investigations on trafficking in persons.

Burma is also a partner of the COMMIT MOU that was signed by
Burma, Cambodia, China, Laos, Thailand, and Vietnam. Burma
has expressed a written commitment to work with these
countries to prevent trafficking in persons and to prosecute
criminals who engage in trafficking.

--I. Where suspects have been deported to another country the
GOB is handing over citizens of the receiving country, not
Burmese nationals. This normally takes place through police
to police actions and not through any legal extradition
process.

--J. Yes, there is clear evidence of local government
authorities being involved in using citizens for forced
labor. The recent court convictions of eight local
government leaders in forced labor cases provide ample
evidence.

--K. Officially, the GOB tells its officials not to use
forced labor. At the same time these same officials receive
orders to carry out public works projects, although they do
not always receive a budget to complete the project. Thus,
the officials are tempted to utilize forced labor to carry
out the directives. However, in January and February 2005
eight local officials were found guilty of using forced labor
in public works projects. Four of them received 6-month
sentences. Three received 8-month sentences and one received
a 16-month sentence (two consecutive, 8-month sentences).

--L. Burma has not been specifically identified as having a
child sex tourism problem. We are aware of a German citizen
who was arrested, tried, and imprisoned in Burma for
pedophilia.

--M. Burma is not yet a party to ILO Convention 182
concerning the prohibition and immediate action for the
elimination of the worst forms of child labor.

Burma signed ILO Convention 29 in on the March 4, 1955.
However, to bring domestic legislation in line with this
convention, Burma has taken additional &legislative,
executive, and administrative measures and has issued two
legislative orders; Order No. 1/99 and Supplementary
Notification to Order No. 1/99. These orders were printed in
Burmese and English and were also translated into major
ethnic languages and distributed. An implementation
committee for ILO Convention 29 was formed in March 2001.
This committee is headed by Deputy Minister for Home Affairs
and comprises 33 members.8

On January 18, 2005 (just prior to the sentencing of four
local officials for forced labor abuses) the Ministry of
Labor issued a directive to thoroughly investigate complaints
of forced labor, and if found to be true, to take necessary
legal action.

Burma has not signed ILO Convention 105 on forced or
compulsory labor. (The only other ILO convention that Burma
has signed is Convention 87.)

The GOB Burma signed the Convention of the Rights of the
Child (CRC) on July 16, 1991 and enacted its own Child Law on
July 14, 1993. However, Burma has not signed the Optional
Protocol to the CRC on the sale of children, child
prostitution, and child pornography. Both UNIAP and UNICEF
have informed us that this optional protocol is under
consideration by the GOB.

Burma acceded to the Convention against Transnational
Organized Crime on March 30, 2004, as well as its protocols
to prevent, suppress, and punish trafficking in persons, and
to combat smuggling of migrants.

PROTECTION AND ASSISTANCE TO VICTIMS:

--A. This does not apply to Burma, since it is not considered
a major &destination country8 for internationally
trafficked persons.

The GOB established a Reception Center for returnees at
Myawaddy border post in February 2002, as an
inter-ministerial project. During 2004 the center received
5,274 returnees and has received a total of 15,831 persons
since its establishment. To date the GOB has spent a total
of 19,200,000 Kyat (USD 21,333) for living, health care,
food, etc. at the Myawaddy Reception Center.

--B. The GOB is supportive of the work of World Vision and
Save the Children (UK) in the area of trafficking of persons.
The GOB does not provide funding to these NGOs, but it
facilitates their work and uses their services for trafficked
persons. According to government figures, since 2001 there
have been 283 trafficking victims who were repatriated to
their families. These victims were supported and
rehabilitated by Save the Children (142), World Vision (115),
and UNIAP (26).

--C. Since Burma is not considered a major &destination
country8 this is not an issue.

--D. World Vision, Save the Children (UK), IOM, and other
agencies who are involved in repatriation of trafficking
victims have taken efforts to ensure that the GOB does not
arrest the victims when they return to Burma. Also, we are
not aware of any arrests of returnees who have arrived at the
Myawaddy Reception Center.

--E. Now that the Anti-Trafficking Unit has received training
in investigative procedures, they are more aware of victims,
rights and their ability to help law enforcement fight the
crime.

Yes, as the recent cases that resulted in sentences against
eight perpetrators of forced labor show, victims can file
civil suits and might receive justice.

In the past victims of forced labor were sometimes pressured
to withdraw their cases, but with the recent successful
prosecution of forced labor violators, the ILO expects that
there will be more cases filed and probably less pressure put
on victims to remain silent.

--F. Short of placing the victims and witnesses in jail for
their protective custody, not very much protection is
afforded by the government. As far as we know, the Myawaddy
Reception Center is the only such facility currently in
existence. According to the GOB, it spent $21,333 for the
Myawaddy center during the past three years. This probably
does not include the initial cost of establishing the center.


--G. Other than the training that has been done by ARCPPT,
UNIAP, and MNCWA and its affiliates, we do not know of any
other GOB sponsored training inside or outside the country.

--H. See paragraphs &A8 and &F8 of this section.

--I. World Vision and Save the Children (UK) are two
international NGOs that have active programs for trafficking
victims in Burma. World Vision initiated projects related to
trafficking in persons about four years ago. Their emphasis
is primarily on prevention through awareness raising. They
try to identify and target vulnerable families who have
daughters who might be susceptible to being trafficked. Then
they work with these families to make them aware of the
dangers of trafficking and provide micro-credit loans or
other assistance to help to stabilize the families. World
Vision also implements general community awareness programs
and focuses on the rights and dignity of people and makes
people aware of exploitative situations. Sometimes returning
traffic victims are used as &peer alert raisers8 to help
others avoid the pitfalls of being trafficked.

World Vision works with trafficked persons who come back from
Thailand so that they are not arrested and gives them
counseling, life skill training, and helps them to be
reunited with their families. They or their families often
receive loans or other assistance to help them in their life
in Burma. World Vision says about 60 percent of the
returnees it assists settle down and do not return to
Thailand. World Vision works in six key border points
located between Tachileik and Kawthoung. Save the Children
(UK) operates a similar program in Burma. UNIAP has also
helped to rehabilitate a limited number of trafficked
victims. IOM has facilitated the repatriation of trafficked
victims to Burma.

END OF REPORT.
Martinez

© Scoop Media

Advertisement - scroll to continue reading
 
 
 
World Headlines

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Join Our Free Newsletter

Subscribe to Scoop’s 'The Catch Up' our free weekly newsletter sent to your inbox every Monday with stories from across our network.