Last Updated: Friday, 27 May 2016, 08:49 GMT

U.S. Department of State 2004 Trafficking in Persons Report - Burma

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 - Burma, 14 June 2004, available at: [accessed 30 May 2016]
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 and, to a lesser extent, destination country for persons trafficked for the purposes of forced labor and sexual exploitation. Internal trafficking of women and girls for forced prostitution occurs from villages to urban centers and other areas, such as truck stops, fishing villages, border towns, and mining and military camps. Burmese men, women, and children are trafficked to Thailand, China, Bangladesh, Taiwan, India, Singapore, Malaysia, Korea, Macau and Japan for forced labor including commercial labor, domestic service, and forced prostitution. Burma is also a destination for Mainland Chinese and Eastern European women trafficked for forced prostitution. The military junta's economic mismanagement and its policy of using forced labor are driving factors behind Burma's huge trafficking problem.

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. Burma's placement on Tier 3 is due to government complicity in forced labor. In 2003, the government took some steps to combat trafficking for sexual exploitation, but significant state-sanctioned use of internal forced labor continues, especially by the military. The military is directly involved in trafficking for forced labor, and there are reports that some children have been forcibly enlisted into the Burmese Army. The Burmese government has been repeatedly censured by the ILO for its forced labor practices. Burma's actions have delayed implementation of an ILO Plan of Action on forced labor. In the last year, the government has, however, improved cooperation with UN agencies and NGOs in efforts to address trafficking in persons. Burma's complete failure to make progress on its large and serious forced labor problem entirely offsets the modest improvements in combating trafficking in persons.


Burma lacks an anti-trafficking law but uses kidnapping and prostitution statutes to arrest and prosecute traffickers. According to government data, Burma has prosecuted 294 traffickers since July 2002. No information is available on the convictions and sentences for these cases. According to the government, there were no prosecutions relating to forced labor. Corruption is a major problem as local and regional officials are suspected of complicity in trafficking. According to government reports, there have been no prosecutions of corrupt officials related to trafficking. The Burmese military continues to carry out trafficking abuses including forced portering and forced labor. The Burmese government does not adequately monitor its borders to prevent trafficking. The government also does not fully control all of its internationally recognized territory.


The Burmese government provides no assistance to victims trafficked internally for forced labor. The government continues to provide limited counseling and job training for returning victims trafficked for sexual exploitation. In 2003, the government set up a repatriation center on the Thai-Burmese border and provided reintegration support for victims returning from Thailand and Malaysia. Protection efforts, however, are hampered by a lack of funding. Although the government coordinated a limited number of victim repatriations with international NGOs, it does not provide funding for international or domestic NGOs for victim protective services.


The government's efforts to prevent trafficking are inadequate. Governmental measures to prevent trafficking for sexual exploitation include publicizing the dangers in border areas via government-sponsored discussion groups, distribution of printed materials, and media programming. These efforts remain under funded. The government has worked with the UN to educate officials and potential victims on the dangers of trafficking for the purpose of sexual exploitation.

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