In Human Trafficking on February 22, 2012 at 3:35 pm
The US yesterday launched a US$5 million anti-human trafficking program in Cambodia, but according to a government audit of the US’s first counter-trafficking effort in Kingdom, significant challenges still need to be overcome.
The Counter-Trafficking in Persons II program (CTIP II) is a four-year effort that the US Embassy hopes “will build upon the notable achievements of CTIP I”, which originally ran from August 2006 until June 2009, and then received a two-year extension through last September.
However, the CTIP I program contained critical weaknesses, according to a 2009 audit by USAID’s Office of Inspector General.
”Without estimates of the scope of human trafficking to use as baselines in project locations, it is difficult to determine where interventions are most needed and would have the greatest impact,” it said, citing US Government Accountability Office reports.
(Kristin Lynch for Phnom Penh Post)
In Debt Bondage among Migrant Workers, Forced Labor, Human Trafficking on February 10, 2012 at 11:13 am
While a lucrative deep-sea fishing industry places Thailand among the world’s leading exporters of sea products, a grim specter of human rights abuse lurks below the surface of an industry whose contribution to the national economy is estimated to exceed $4 billion a year.
A combination of factors – including a shortage of labor in this dangerous and physically demanding industry and pressures on marginalized populations – create opportunities for unscrupulous employment brokers and traffickers to prey on those desperate for work. Trafficking of migrant men and boys from Burma, Cambodia, Laos, and within Thailand itself into the deep-sea fishing industry (DSFI) is an issue of growing concern to the governments of Thailand and neighboring countries, civil society organizations (CSOs), and the international community. A combination of economic pressures, language constraints, and lack of information on the risk of trafficking puts migrant populations at especially high risk of labor exploitation and trafficking. Human Rights Watch estimates that at least 250,000 migrants from Burma alone work in sea and land-based sectors of Thai fishing industry. Many of them are trafficked or subject to labor exploitation, while many more are at risk.
(Kim McQuay and Kate Bollinger for In Asia)
In Human Trafficking on February 5, 2012 at 5:59 pm
The three unmarked police cars ahead of us pulled up in front of the brothel, and the police and prosecutor ran in. Somaly and I followed and watched as police with assault rifles confiscated cellphones from the brothel manager, a middle-aged woman, and her male partner, so that they couldn’t call for reinforcements.We quickly found five girls and one young woman, three Cambodians and three Vietnamese. The youngest turned out to be a seventh grader trafficked from Vietnam three months earlier, making her about 12 years old.The anti-trafficking police found 10 rooms equipped with beds and full of discarded condoms in the trash; the rooms all locked with padlocks from the outside, presumably to incarcerate girls inside. Several other young girls Somaly had photographed in her earlier visit couldn’t be found, despite a frantic search of all the locked rooms. “They’re probably kept at another house in town, but we don’t know where it is,” Somaly said.Soon the mood turned ugly. The brothel-owning family had strong military connections, and the man was wearing the uniform of a senior military officer. Someone inside the brothel must have called in reinforcements, and seven armed soldiers soon arrived to order the police and prosecutor to release the military officer. The prosecutor responded with courage and integrity. He declared that the military officer would have to be taken to the police station. “If you want to stop me, you can shoot me if you dare,” he told the soldiers.The soldiers backed down, but, in the end, the army officer was not charged. The woman, who had more day-to-day involvement in managing the girls, is expected to be prosecuted, and the brothel presumably will now be out of operation. The girls were placed in a shelter run by Somaly, and they are receiving plenty of love from other girls previously extricated from sexual slavery.
(Nicholas Kristof for New York Times)
Fighting Back, One Brothel Raid at a Time