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Cablegate: Update - Anti-Trafficking in Person Efforts in Laos

O 010836Z SEP 09
FM AMEMBASSY VIENTIANE
TO SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 2767
INFO ASEAN REGIONAL FORUM COLLECTIVE

UNCLAS VIENTIANE 000424


DEPARTMENT FOR EAP/MLS - EMERY, INL/GTIP - ZINN, CHAN-DOWNER

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PHUM ELAB ECON KTIP LA
SUBJECT: UPDATE - ANTI-TRAFFICKING IN PERSON EFFORTS IN LAOS

REF: STATE 89216

Summary
-------

1. The GOL, limited by resource constraints, continues to encourage
anti-trafficking in persons (TIP) efforts by the international
organizations and NGOs. The UN helps coordinate anti-trafficking
efforts with donor partners, and several UN agencies and NGOs
provide training, education, outreach to at-risk populations, and
shelter to victims. December's Southeast Asian Games (SEA Games)
provides both a risk of increased trafficking and an opportunity to
increase educational and enforcement activities. Laos continues to
seek assistance in building capacity to catch and prosecute those
responsible for TIP from and through Laos. End Summary.

Government Efforts
------------------

2. As a source, transit, and destination country for trafficked
persons, Laos continues to seek ways to combat trafficking at all
levels. Although resource limitations impede GOL activity and much
of the anti-trafficking activity comes from international NGOs, the
GOL encourages the anti-trafficking efforts and makes its own
contributions. Lao police have established anti-trafficking
divisions in all 16 provinces and the Lao Women's Union, a Communist
Party mass organization, runs a shelter for women and children
victims in Vientiane Municipality and has six counseling offices in
Vientiane Municipality and four provinces.

United Nations
--------------

3. The coordination for most anti-trafficking activities in Laos
runs through the United Nations Inter-Agency Project on Human
Trafficking (UNIAP), though the GOL also has an interagency
coordination committee. The UNIAP hosts periodic meetings,
co-chaired by the UN Resident Coordinator and a Ministry of Foreign
Affairs representative, for the various stakeholders to exchange
information and develop strategies to combat TIP. UNIAP also
coordinates anti-trafficking activity in the Mekong sub-region as
the Secretariat for the Coordinated Mekong Ministerial Initiative
against Trafficking (COMMIT). UNIAP in conjunction with Lao Radio
will soon begin broadcasting in the Lao language anti-trafficking
informational spots and a multiple-part radio drama about a
trafficking victim.

4. The UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), with USG funding,
provides training for police and Lao legal officials throughout the
country and assesses the Lao laws and policies for effectiveness in
combating TIP. Most recently, UNODC responded in August to requests
from Xiengkhouang and Houaphan provinces to conduct anti-TIP
training. Officials in those two provinces have noticed an increase
in internal trafficking from those provinces to Laos' other northern
provinces. In June, UNODC conducted similar workshops in Champassak
and Vientiane provinces.

5. As one of its many projects in Laos, UNICEF works on providing
information to potential trafficking victims and has developed two
comic books in the Lao language that recount stories of trafficking
victims, one for sexual exploitation and the other for labor
exploitation. The books aim to educate secondary school students
and will be distributed in five provinces.

NGOs
----

6. World Vision has three U.S.-funded anti-TIP programs in the
"southern corridor" provinces of Savannakhet, Champassak, and
Khammuan -- a source and transit region for most of Lao's
trafficking victims. Although World Vision does not yet have a MOU
with the GOL, the NGO is relying on agreements signed directly with
provincial officials to carry out two programs: one on prevention
by disseminating information to potential victims, and another for
training of police. The third component of its mission, assistance
repatriating trafficking victims, will begin when the MOU with the
central government is signed. World Vision has now translated its
pamphlet, "10 Things You Need to Know about Human Trafficking,"
published earlier this year, into the Lao language.

7. The French NGO Acting for Women in Distressing Circumstances
(AFESIP) helps in repatriating women and children TIP victims and
reintegrating them into society. AFESIP provides counseling and
medical care at its shelter in Savannakhet and aids in reuniting
victims with their families. Some victims find employment with an
AFESIP-affiliated social enterprise that sells organic beauty
products in Vientiane city.

SEA Games
---------

8. The GOL and many of the NGOs and international organizations who
work on TIP issues are preparing special programs and materials for
the December SEA Games in Vientiane. In addition to the sizable
migration of young people to urban areas that Laos is experiencing,
the GOL expects the SEA Games to attract even more young people to
Vientiane city in search of work. UNIAP has coordinated with the
National Tourism Authority, Ministry of Labor and Social Welfare,
Ministry of Public Security, and the police to increase activities
to protect potential trafficking victims and to combat sex tourism.
Several NGOs report they will enhance their advertising campaigns
against TIP during the SEA Games.

Comment
-------

9. Anti-TIP efforts in Laos help to educate potential victims and
Lao society about the dangers from traffickers willing to exploit
the poverty of the country. The shelters and rehabilitation and
reintegration services provide a much-needed safety net to victims.
The police request for training in Xiengkhouang and Houaphan shows
government officials want to increase their enforcement and
prosecution capabilities. The November ILEA Bangkok course on
Trafficking in Persons (reftel) comes at an opportune time to
further assist the GOL in more effectively catching and prosecuting
traffickers.

HUSO

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