Anti-trafficking agenda workshopped in capital
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.