U.S. Department of State 2004 Trafficking in Persons Report - Laos
|Publisher||United States Department of State|
|Author||Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons|
|Publication Date||14 June 2004|
|Cite as||United States Department of State, U.S. Department of State 2004 Trafficking in Persons Report - Laos, 14 June 2004, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/4680d7fe23.html [accessed 3 May 2015]|
Laos (Tier 2 Watch List)
Laos is a source, and to a lesser extent, transit and destination country for persons trafficked for forced labor and sexual exploitation. Laotians, many of whom are economic migrants, are trafficked to Thailand, where some wind up in involuntary servitude or forced prostitution. A small number of victims from the People's Republic of China (PRC) are trafficked to Laos.
The Government of Laos does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking; however, it is making significant efforts to do so despite considerable resource constraints. Laos' placement on Tier 2 Watch List reflects the lack of evidence of increasing Lao government efforts to prosecute traffickers and to provide adequate protection for victims. In 2003, the government took steps to combat trafficking but its efforts to prosecute traffickers remained weak and uncoordinated. While the government does not conduct extensive protection and prevention programs, it recognizes that trafficking is a problem and strongly supports NGO and international organization efforts.
Laos lacks a specific anti-trafficking law but uses various other laws, including kidnapping and prostitution statutes, to arrest and prosecute traffickers. An inter-ministerial committee is drafting an anti-TIP law, which it plans to present to the National Assembly in September 2004. Law enforcement is decentralized and the central government does not keep data on efforts of local officials to prosecute traffickers. The government does not normally make public information on trials or their results, but three prosecutions were reported in 2003, two of which resulted in convictions with sentences of one to three years imprisonment. The Ministry of Labor and Social Welfare (MOLSW) coordinates government action on trafficking, including the Lao Immigration Department's 2003 opening of an anti-trafficking office. Overall, judicial and law enforcement institutions are extremely weak and corruption is widespread. Some local government officials likely profit from trafficking. The Lao government does not effectively control its long and porous borders.
The Lao government provides limited protection for victims. The government has sponsored a program for housing returnees and offers them limited vocational training. Some provincial or district level authorities reportedly levy fines for immigration violations on those who departed the country illegally. This includes some who may be trafficking victims. Laos is negotiating a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with Thailand that addresses trafficking .
The government does not fund any anti-trafficking prevention measures in part because of a lack of resources. Most trafficking prevention projects are carried out by international organizations and NGOs, and include awareness raising and skills development for at-risk populations. The Lao government has provided in-kind support and staff for TIP efforts. It contributed manpower to a comprehensive ILO study on trafficking and migration and for the Immigration Department's anti-trafficking office. In cooperation with several NGOs, the government sponsored two day-long seminars on preventing the exploitation of children in sex tourism. The government, with NGO funding, has sponsored media messages on the dangers of trafficking. Through establishing high-level bodies to deal with trafficking, the government has improved its cooperation with NGOs and international organizations to monitor, document, and develop remedies for trafficking-related problem.