Anti-traf­fick­ing agenda work­shopped in cap­i­tal

The Myanmar Times - - News - PYAE THET PHYO pyae­thet­phyo@mm­times.com – Trans­la­tion by Thiri Min Htun

TAT­MADAW of­fi­cers and civil­ian bro­kers who re­cruit or oth­er­wise pro­cure child sol­diers in vi­o­la­tion of in­ter­na­tional law should face im­pris­on­ment, a United States gov­ern­ment re­port has rec­om­mended. In­stead, they say, it is the chil­dren them­selves who can face jail for “de­sert­ing” from their forced ser­vice.

At a meet­ing held yes­ter­day in the cap­i­tal, par­tially to ad­dress the US State De­part­ment’s an­nual Traf­fick­ing in Per­sons (TIP) re­port, anti-hu­man traf­fick­ing of­fi­cials re­viewed the agenda for the gov­ern­ment’s third five-year plan, cov­er­ing 2017-21.

The TIP re­port, which was re­leased in June, of­fers 14 rec­om­men­da­tions aris­ing from the sec­ond five-year plan to com­bat traf­fick­ing in per­sons, cov­er­ing 2012 to 2016. Th­ese in­clude a rec­om­men­da­tion “to stop re­cruit­ing more child sol­diers and … al­low ex­ist­ing child sol­diers to re­sign”.

In 2015, three chil­dren who left the Tat­madaw’s ranks were ar­rested and sent to jail, says the re­port.

Other rec­om­men­da­tions in­clude the need to check the age of re­cruits, to re­frain from ar­rest­ing peo­ple who have been traf­ficked, and to take le­gal ac­tion against mil­i­tary of­fi­cers and civil­ian bro­kers on charges of forced labour and re­cruit­ing child labour, with se­vere pun­ish­ments meted out, in­clud­ing im­pris­on­ment.

Po­lice Lieu­tenant Colonel Thet Naung, na­tional head of Myan­mar’s Anti-Hu­man Traf­fick­ing Team, told The Myan­mar Times yes­ter­day, “We don’t have any com­ment on th­ese rec­om­men­da­tions be­cause this is a mat­ter for the Min­istry of De­fence.”

The re­port also re­vealed front-line forced labour. It said that though the de­fence min­istry had pe­nalised of­fi­cers, the pun­ish­ment was in­suf­fi­cient. No ac­tion had been taken un­der laws to pre­vent hu­man traf­fick­ing law, and no ac­tion was taken against civil­ian of­fi­cials or pri­vate bro­kers.

“The Min­istry of For­eign Af­fairs has al­ready sent a re­sponse to the United States gov­ern­ment on this mat­ter,” said Pol Lt Col Thet Naung.

An­other workshop will also be held to­day to specif­i­cally dis­cuss child sol­diers.

The US has also rec­om­mended try­ing to stop child sol­dier re­cruit­ment and the forced labour of eth­nic armed groups as a pri­or­ity in the peace talks.

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