U.S. Department of State 2005 Trafficking in Persons Report - Laos
|Publisher||United States Department of State|
|Author||Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons|
|Publication Date||3 June 2005|
|Cite as||United States Department of State, U.S. Department of State 2005 Trafficking in Persons Report - Laos, 3 June 2005, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/4680d84fc.html [accessed 21 December 2014]|
Laos (Tier 2)
Laos is a source and, to a lesser extent, transit, and destination country for men and women trafficked for the purposes of forced labor and sexual exploitation. Many Lao victims are economic migrants who become victims of involuntary servitude or commercial sexual exploitation in Thailand. A small number of victims from the People's Republic of China (P.R.C.) and Vietnam are trafficked to Laos to work as street vendors and for sexual exploitation in prostitution.
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. The Lao Government has recognized that trafficking is a problem, and has strongly supported NGO and international organization efforts to assist victims and promote awareness of trafficking. In September 2004, the government passed a Law on Women that covers trafficking in persons. The new law criminalizes trafficking; provides for the protection of victims, both internally and through international cooperation; and prohibits the punishing of trafficking victims upon their return to Laos. Until the new law is implemented effectively at the local level, however, the government should establish an official mechanism to identify trafficking victims among returnees to the country and take necessary measures to ensure that they are not subjected to fines or other punishment by local authorities.
The Government of Laos reportedly increased its prosecution efforts during the reporting period. Lao law enforcement is decentralized, and the central government does not keep data on efforts of local officials to prosecute traffickers. However, the anti-trafficking office, operated jointly by the Ministry of Labor and Social Welfare (MLSW) and the Ministry of Public Security reported five convictions for trafficking-related crimes in 2004. The new Law on Women stipulates specific penalties for trafficking, including the death penalty for the most egregious forms of trafficking, and those that lead to the loss of life or permanent disability. It also contains provisions defining trafficking and recognizing and guaranteeing the rights of trafficking victims. Overall, judicial and law enforcement institutions are extremely weak. Corruption is widespread; some local government officials reportedly profited from trafficking, though there were no reported prosecutions of officials for complicity in trafficking. The Lao Government does not effectively control its long and porous borders.
While the Lao Government provided minimal assistance to victims, it continued to refer victims to NGOs and international organizations that run protection programs for victims of trafficking. The government continued to expand its engagement with NGOs and requested their assistance in providing vocational training and establishing another shelter for returnees. While the Lao Government recognized the status of trafficking victims and made efforts to educate provincial and district-level officials on the need to protect them, it made minimal efforts to distinguish trafficking victims from returning migrants who had left the country illegally.
The government, in cooperation with NGOs, continued to raise awareness in the media of the dangers of trafficking. The MLSW, with NGO funding, has sponsored media messages on the dangers of trafficking and conducted data collection and public education campaigns. In conjunction with UNESCO, the MLSW conducted a radio project designed to raise awareness of trafficking and HIV/AIDS among ethnic minorities. The Ministry of Education also integrated some anti-trafficking information into school curricula.