Last Updated: Monday, 22 December 2014, 21:54 GMT

U.S. Department of State 2006 Trafficking in Persons Report - Burma

Publisher United States Department of State
Author Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons
Publication Date 5 June 2006
Cite as United States Department of State, U.S. Department of State 2006 Trafficking in Persons Report - Burma, 5 June 2006, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/4680d87b1c.html [accessed 23 December 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 and men trafficked for the purposes of forced labor and sexual exploitation. Burmese men, women, and children are trafficked to Thailand, the People's Republic of China (the P.R.C.), Bangladesh, Malaysia, Korea, and Macau for sexual exploitation, domestic service, and forced labor – including commercial labor. A significant number of men, women, and children from Burma are economic migrants who wind up in forced or bonded labor and forced prostitution. To a lesser extent, Burma is a country of transit and destination for women trafficked from the P.R.C. for sexual exploitation. There are some cases of persons trafficked from Bangladesh to Malaysia and from the P.R.C. to Thailand through Burma. Internal trafficking of persons occurs primarily for labor in industrial zones and agricultural estates. Internal trafficking of women and girls for sexual exploitation occurs from villages to urban centers and other areas, such as truck stops, fishing villages, border towns, and mining and military camps. The military junta's economic mismanagement, human rights abuses, and its policy of using forced labor are driving factors behind Burma's large 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. Significant state use of internal forced labor – a form of trafficking – continued, especially by the military. The Burmese military is directly involved in trafficking for forced labor and there are reports that some children were forcibly enlisted into the Burmese Army. Local civil authorities and military forces continued to use forced labor in their areas of control. Beginning in November 2005, the government also ordered civil servants to relocate without their families to the country's new capital. The Burmese Government charged 10 officials with forced labor violations in 2005 but allowed officials to counter sue their accusers, in some cases resulting in harsher penalties for the complainants of forced labor than for the culpable officials. Because of these governmental actions, the ILO stopped accepting new cases documenting forced labor abuses in Burma. Since April 2005, there has been no evidence that the Burmese Government is willing to take steps to investigate and prosecute cases of forced labor. In the last year, the government took some steps to combat trafficking for sexual and labor exploitation, including passing a comprehensive anti-trafficking law, holding a national seminar, and conducting training for law enforcement officers.

Prosecution

The Burmese Government made minimal progress in prosecuting trafficking-related cases, especially cases involving trafficking for sexual or labor exploitation. In September 2005, Burma passed an anti-trafficking in persons law that covers sexual exploitation, forced labor, slavery, servitude, and debt bondage. The anti-trafficking law applies to internal and external trafficking and carries penalties of 10 years' minimum to life imprisonment. Penalties for sexual and labor exploitation are the same. This law is not used effectively, however, because the Burmese judiciary is corrupt and lacks resources and independence. In 2005, the Burmese Government claims it prosecuted 426 traffickers in 203 cases under the new law and identified 844 victims; an indeterminate number of these cases actually involved severe forms of trafficking in persons. The government did not take action, however, against military or civilian officials who engaged in forced labor, and the ILO stopped submitting cases for investigations in April 2005. During the reporting period, the government expanded the Police Anti-Trafficking Unit from 40 to 65 officers stationed in Rangoon and in border towns to monitor trafficking. Corruption continued to be a major problem. Although local and regional officials, primarily along the borders, were suspected of complicity in trafficking, the government reported no prosecutions of corrupt officials related to trafficking. The Burmese military continued to carry out forced labor, including forced portering.

Protection

The Burmese Government provided basic reintegration assistance to victims. The government continued to refer victims to the few NGOs and international organizations providing protection for victims of trafficking, including a repatriation center on the Thai-Burmese border. The government in 2005 proposed new restrictions on all NGOs and international organizations, thereby risking the ability of these organizations to care for repatriated victims. The Burmese Government coordinated with international NGOs a limited number of government-to government repatriations of victims from Thailand, China, and Malaysia. The government provided compensation to victims trafficked internally for forced labor in one case only, and did not fund international or domestic NGOs providing victim protective services. In forced labor cases, the law does not protect victims seeking justice from counter suit filed by accused officials. Successful counter-suits result in criminal penalties for the victims. The Central Police Training Institute developed a teaching curriculum on trafficking.

Prevention

Burma's efforts to prevent trafficking remained inadequate. Governmental measures to prevent trafficking for sexual exploitation include publicizing the dangers in border areas via governments sponsored discussion groups, distribution of printed materials, and media programming. The government conducted training for law enforcement officers on the new anti-trafficking law and awareness workshops at the national and local levels on the dangers of trafficking for the purposes of labor and sexual exploitation.

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