Officials from Laos and China met yesterday in Vientiane in a joint effort to fight cross-border human trafficking.

The two-day meeting came after the two governments agreed to work more closely to combat the trafficking of their citizens.

Previous cases indicate that this trade between the neighbouring countries mainly involved sexual and labour exploitation of the victims, who were lured abroad by the traffickers for several reasons.

Lao victims were taken to China where they often suffered inhumane working conditions and sexual slavery, Deputy Head of the Secretariat of Laos’ National Committee in charge of Anti-human Trafficking, Ms Thoummaly Vongphachanch, told the Vientiane Times.

On the other hand, most Chinese victims were brought to Laos before being sent to other countries.

“Because of this situation, the two governments have decided that we need to have a bilateral agreement to set up a precaution and prevention policy between our countries,” she said.

Meeting participants are finalising a draft bilateral cooperation agreement on human trafficking precaution and prevention. This will then be submitted to the two governments for consideration and signing before promulgation.

Once it comes into force, the new agreement will provide instrumental policy guidelines to better fight the problem of cross-border human trafficking between the two countries.

“It will define clear precautions and prevention measures,” Ms Thoummaly said.

It will also outline measures to protect those who are most vulnerable and intervention methods to help victims, she added.

“It will also identify a coordination process and specify official bodies to take charge of planning and arrange for the safe transport of victims back home,” Ms Thoummaly said.

Numbers of cross-border human trafficking cases between Laos and China are not very high, she added. However, the new agreement will allow for important measures to restrict cross-border human trafficking when it comes into force.

This was the second meeting on the matter, with one taking place last year in China’s southwest province of Yunnan.

Ms Thoummaly was unable to give exact figures on the number of Lao people who were victims of human trafficking every year, saying that data is unavailable at present.

The majority of the victims were found in Thailand where high numbers of Lao people were reported to be seeking employment opportunities because of higher wages.

Head of the Secretariat of Laos’ National Committee in charge of Anti-Human Trafficking, Colonel Dr Phengsavanh Thipphavongxay, is leading the Lao delegation at the talks with the Chinese delegation.

Source: Vientiane Times
May 11, 2013