Con­flicts en­cour­age peo­ple smug­gling

The gov­ern­ment has taken a tough stance to erad­i­cate hu­man traf­fick­ing but warned that un­less peace and sta­bil­ity pre­vails this scourge is hard to stop.

The Myanmar Times - Weekend - - Front Page - PYAE THET PHYO pyae­thet­phyo@mm­times.com

THE gov­ern­ment has warned that con­flict es­ca­lates hu­man traf­fick­ing and in­no­cent civil­ians will con­tinue to fall vic­tim to un­scrupu­lous traf­fick­ers if it goes unchecked.

Vice Pres­i­dent U Henry Van Thio on Wed­nes­day said that end­ing armed con­flict in the coun­try could sig­nif­i­cantly re­duce, if not erad­i­cate, traf­fick­ing of peo­ple.

“Wars are a ma­jor hin­drance to sta­bil­ity, peace, eco­nomic growth, ed­u­ca­tion and de­vel­op­ment. Mi­grant work­ers leave the coun­try be­cause of lack of liveli­hood op­por­tu­ni­ties and eas­ily fall prey to hu­man traf­fick­ers,” he said at the 5th Anti-hu­man Traf­fick­ing Day cel­e­bra­tion held in Nay Pyi Taw.

“There­fore, we have to fo­cus on peace process which is di­rectly re­lated to anti-hu­man traf­fick­ing mea­sures,” he added, not­ing that armed con­flicts are ma­jor causes of the crime.

His com­ments echoes at a time when the coun­try is fac­ing press­ing se­cu­rity is­sues, es­pe­cially the clashes in Rakhine State and Tanai in Shan State, where many vil­lagers have been dis­placed.

Traf­fick­ing data con­cern­ing Myan­mar cit­i­zens is also wor­ry­ing. For in­stance, about 160 hu­man traf­fick­ing cases was filed in the court up to Septem­ber 2017, com­pared to only 130 cases for the en­tire 2016, ac­cord­ing to the Anti-hu­man Traf­fick­ing po­lice force.

And, from Jan­uary to Septem­ber this year, 29 peo­ple – 6 men and 23 women – were vic­tims of this cross­bor­der scourge.

Hu­man traf­fick­ing takes many shades and marginalised groups, from cities to re­mote vil­lages, are of­ten vul­ner­a­ble to this crime.

The Global New Light of Myan­mar, the state news­pa­per, on Septem­ber 14, re­vealed that “Myan­mar is en­coun­ter­ing forced mar­riages con­nected to China, ex­ploita­tion and forced pros­ti­tu­tion in Thai­land, forced beg­ging in Malaysia and forced labour in the off-shore fish­ing in­dus­try re­lated to In­done­sia, and labour ex­ploita­tion and forced pros­ti­tu­tion in Myan­mar.”

As Myan­mar is one of the ma­jor sources of traf­ficked peo­ple, con­flicts could cre­ate a lot of dam­ages to the cit­i­zens and the com­mu­nity.

“Only with col­lec­tive pub­lic par­tic­i­pa­tion will we be able to fight hu­man traf­fick­ing,” said the vice pres­i­dent.

Sev­eral push and pull fac­tors, from lack of good ed­u­ca­tion, poverty, lack of em­ploy­ment op­por­tu­ni­ties at home and in­se­cu­rity and bet­ter job op­por­tu­ni­ties else­where – drives hu­man trade, which has now said to be a well-or­ches­trated multi-mil­lion in­dus­try.

Po­lice Lieu­tenant Colonel Thet Naung, from the Anti-hu­man Traf­fick­ing po­lice force, said lack of em­ploy­ment is the pri­mary rea­son for the crime to flour­ish.

“There is an ur­gent need to im­prove liveli­hoods of the peo­ple. So, we need peace. With­out peace, it will be dif­fi­cult for eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment as all are (in­ter) re­lated,” he said.

As long as peo­ple are poor, hu­man traf­fick­ing will still ex­ist, thus com­pre­hen­sive pre­ven­tive mea­sures are re­quired, he added.

“Hu­man traf­fick­ing can­not be ab­so­lutely elim­i­nated. It ex­ists even in the United States. It’s just the per­cent­age of dif­fer­ence,” Lieu­tenant Colonel Thet Naung said.

“The per­cent­age (of cases) in de­vel­op­ing coun­tries like Myan­mar, Cam­bo­dia and Laos is high but in rich coun­tries within ASEAN, the per­cent­age of traf­ficked per­sons is low,” he added,

“We are try­ing to re­duce it but other re­lated sec­tors like econ­omy and ed­u­ca­tion need to be im­proved. Only then anti-hu­man traf­fick­ing mea­sures can suc­ceed,” he said.

The gov­ern­ment is se­ri­ous to curb traf­fick­ing and anti-hu­man traf­fick­ing plans have been im­ple­mented un­der the five-year plan and the third five-year Plan (2017-2021) has been ap­proved for im­ple­men­ta­tion.

“Our main ob­jec­tive is to com­pletely elim­i­nate hu­man traf­fick­ing. We are im­ple­ment­ing five-year plans. But zero per­cent hu­man traf­fick­ing is not pos­si­ble in any coun­try in the world,” Lieu­tenant Colonel Thet Naung said.

Due to the im­ple­men­ta­tions of th­ese mea­sures Myan­mar was raised to tier 2 watch list in 2017 in the US hu­man traf­fick­ing re­port.

Photo: Nyan Zay Htet

A man walks past a large bill­board that warns about hu­man traf­fick­ing at Yankin pass­port of­fice in Yangon on Septem­ber 14.

Photo: EPA

Vice Pres­i­dent U Henry Van Thio speaks at the cer­e­mony mark­ing Anti-hu­man Traf­fick­ing Day in Nay Pyi Taw, on Septem­ber 13.

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