Last Updated: Thursday, 31 July 2014, 17:47 GMT

U.S. Department of State 2007 Trafficking in Persons Report - Burma

Publisher United States Department of State
Author Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons
Publication Date 12 June 2007
Cite as United States Department of State, U.S. Department of State 2007 Trafficking in Persons Report - Burma, 12 June 2007, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/467be3a3c.html [accessed 1 August 2014]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.

Burma (Tier 3)

Burma is a source country for women, children, and men trafficked for the purposes of forced labor and commercial sexual exploitation. Burmese women and children are trafficked to Thailand, the People's Republic of China (P. R. C. ), Bangladesh, Malaysia, South Korea, and Macau for sexual exploitation, domestic servitude, and forced labor. Some Burmese migrating abroad for better economic opportunities wind up in situations of forced or bonded labor or forced prostitution. Burmese children are trafficked to Thailand as forced street hawkers and beggars, unlawfully used internally as child soldiers and trafficked to work in shops, agriculture, and small-scale industries. Reports indicate some trafficking of Bangladeshi persons to Malaysia and P. R. C. nationals to Thailand through Burma. Internal sex trafficking of women and girls occurs primarily from villages to urban centers and transportation and economic hubs, such as truck stops, fishing villages, border towns, and mining and military camps. The military junta's gross economic mismanagement, human rights abuses, and its policy of using forced labor are the top causal factors for Burma's significant trafficking problem. The official ban on overland emigration of most young women drives some seeking to leave the country into the hands of "travel facilitators," who may have ties with traffickers.

The Government of Burma does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking and is not making significant efforts to do so. Military and civilian officials are directly involved in trafficking for forced labor and the unlawful conscription of child soldiers. During 2006, the Burmese government did not take action against military or civilian officials who engaged in forced labor. Relations with the ILO, which are focused on addressing forced labor in Burma, improved in 2006 with the halt of death threats directed at the ILO Liaison Officer in Rangoon and government threats to withdraw from the organization. The ruling junta implemented a moratorium on prosecution of forced labor complainants and released two prisoners who were jailed for supporting forced labor complaints. The government acknowledged that forced labor is a problem, and began negotiations with ILO on a mechanism to address forced labor, but did not otherwise take actions to stop it. The government continued to deny UNICEF permission to make unannounced visits to military recruitment centers. Over the past year, the government took steps to combat trafficking for sexual exploitation by increasing law enforcement efforts at border crossings, raising the number of trafficking arrests, prosecutions, and convictions, and conducting training for law enforcement officers.

Prosecution

The Burmese government demonstrated progress to combat sex trafficking throughout the past year, but continued to take no law enforcement action against official or military-sanctioned forced labor. Burma criminally prohibits sex and labor trafficking through its 2005 Anti-Trafficking in Persons Law. Penalties for sex trafficking are commensurate with those for rape. The law prescribes penalties for trafficking that are sufficiently stringent. The lack of a functioning independent judiciary, however, results in military trials lacking transparency, accountability, and due process. The ruling junta claims that its police identified over 400 traffickers in 191 cases in 2006, and information sharing with international organizations improved, but government statistics cannot be independently verified. Similarly, the regime reports that 65 trafficking offenders were convicted under the new law with offenders receiving sentences ranging from under five years to life imprisonment. Past data provided by the regime conflated smuggling and trafficking crimes. Recently, police units that have received anti-trafficking training have provided separate smuggling and trafficking statistics, while other officials do not differentiate. Authorities report having exposed a trafficking ring based in Ruili that reportedly sold over 90 women into the P. R. C. as forced brides, arrested 34 suspects, and rescued 17 victims. In January 2007, police reportedly arrested an additional 47 suspected traffickers. Although pervasive corruption is present along the borders, there were no reports of actions taken against officials complicit in profiting from or involved in trafficking.

Protection

The Burmese government requires a 30-day program of "rehabilitation" for most victims of external trafficking. It provides much more limited assistance to female victims of internal sex trafficking, forced child labor, or male victims of forced labor. The Department of Social Welfare provides temporary shelter to repatriated trafficking victims at eight vocational training centers. In 2006, over 80 victims spent time in these shelters. The government encourages internationally trafficked victims to assist in investigations. Victims have a right to file civil suits and seek legal action against the traffickers, though no such civil suits have been documented. Victims are penalized through the aforementioned "rehabilitation" program that does not respect victims' privacy and does not allow them to choose their future actions upon removal from a trafficking situation. The government has no formal procedures to identify victims of trafficking among the many Burmese who are deported from neighboring countries. The government refers victims to the few NGOs and international organizations providing reintegration assistance.

Prevention

The Burmese government marginally increased its efforts to prevent international trafficking in persons. The Women's Affairs Federation and National Committee for Women's Affairs conducted almost 8,000 educational sessions for women around the country that included information about the risks of trafficking. The government also distributed pamphlets and newsletters by an international organization, published press articles, and aired television and radio plays on trafficking. The Central Police Training Institute includes trafficking in its curriculum for incoming cadets and in-service police training.

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