News: Asia crisis could worsen trafficking in humans-UN

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Jyothi Kanics---Global Survival Network (jkanics@igc.apc.org)
Tue, 10 Nov 1998 10:00:16 -0800 (PST)


Asia crisis could worsen trafficking in humans-UN

BANGKOK, Nov 3 (Reuters) - Asia's economic crisis could increase the
numbers of women and children sold into Asia's sex industry, the United
Nations said on Tuesday.

Adrianus Mooy, executive secretary of the UN's Economic and Social
Commission for Asia and the Pacific, said that amid rising unemployment
and poverty, new approaches were needed to deal with trafficking in human
beings.

``Strategies to combat trafficking in women must confront the
transboundary and international nature of the activity,'' he told a regional
conference on trafficking in women in Bangkok.

Victims of trafficking in Asia came from countries like Myanmar, China,
Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam, Thailand, the Philippines, Sri Lanka,
Bangladesh and Nepal, the conference was told by speakers.

Saisuree Chatikul, the chairman of the Thai Senate Committee on Women,
told the meeting many governments and officials underestimated the scale of
the problem.

``In Thailand, in our experience, judges need to be informed of the
seriousness of trafficking as a crime,'' she said, adding that too often
prison sentences for such offences were reduced to suspended terms.

``Laws in some countries are good laws. However there is a lack of
strict enforcement,'' she said.

``Enforcement officers may not consider trafficking one of their
priorities or, in some cases, may be corrupted and traffickers not brought to
justice.''

Saisuree called for training programmes for police and immigration
officers, lawyers, judges, health officials and social workers and for
the ammendment of some laws.

People abducted, or forced or lured across borders with false
promises,should be treated as victims and not simply dealt with as
illegal immigrants.

``The amended laws should also embrace the need to arrest, prosecute and
heavily penalise those abusers involved in trafficking,'' she said.

Saisuree said bilateral agreements were needed to help victims of
trafficking and attempts should be made by countries to harmonise
relevant laws.

The conference was held as part of wider meeting on crime control. Three
similar regional meetings on crime are to be held before the end of
February: in Beirut for West Asia, In Kampala for Africa and San Jose
for Latin America.

The meetings are to provide input for the 10th Congress on the
Prevention of Crime and Treatment of Offenders due to be held in Vienna in April
2000.


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