Last Updated: Thursday, 26 May 2016, 08:56 GMT

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

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 - Vietnam, 14 June 2004, available at: [accessed 27 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.

Vietnam (Tier 2 Watch List)

Vietnam is a source country for persons trafficked for forced labor and sexual exploitation. Vietnamese women and girls are trafficked to Cambodia, the People's Republic of China (PRC), Taiwan, Malaysia, Hong Kong, and Macau for sexual exploitation and forced marriages. Labor export companies recruit and send workers abroad; some of these laborers have been known to suffer trafficking abuses. There is also internal trafficking from rural to urban areas.

The Government of Vietnam does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking; however, it is making significant efforts to do so. Vietnam's placement on Tier 2 Watch List is due to the government's failure to provide evidence of increasing efforts to combat severe forms of trafficking, particularly its inadequate control of two state-controlled labor companies that sent workers to American Samoa from 1999-2001. Additionally, Vietnam's weak labor export regulations are vulnerable to abuse by unscrupulous employers to facilitate the trafficking of Vietnamese workers. Vietnam lacks adequate protection for victims of labor trafficking. The government does not yet have a separate national plan of action to address trafficking, but trafficking in women and children is an explicit component of the 2004-2010 National Plan of Action on Protection for Children in Special Circumstances and is also addressed in the 2000-2005 National Anti-Criminal Plan of Action. The Government has also engaged neighboring governments to combat trafficking in persons. Vietnam has made increasing efforts to prosecute trafficking crimes. It is cooperating with Cambodia and other neighboring countries on the repatriation of victims and other cross-border issues.


Vietnam's anti-trafficking law enforcement efforts in 2003 were uneven. Vietnam has a statute that prohibits sexual exploitation and the trafficking of women and children, with penalties ranging up to twenty years in prison. It does not, however, have a law against other forms of trafficking, including forced labor. The government actively investigates trafficking cases and prosecutes and convicts traffickers. In 2003, the government opened a crime statistics office to track arrests, prosecutions, and convictions. Officials have reported 296 arrests, 224 prosecutions, and 204 convictions specifically related to trafficking in women and children in 2003. Through cross-border cooperation, the Vietnamese and Cambodian governments were able to crack down on several transnational trafficking rings and convict several kingpins. Government corruption impedes law enforcement efforts; in 2003 the government prosecuted three police officers who facilitated labor trafficking.


The Vietnamese government does not provide adequate protection to victims, although in 2003 it improved cooperation with NGOs and international organizations. Vietnam's labor export regulations allow labor companies to largely monitor themselves, creating opportunities for unscrupulous employers to abuse Vietnamese workers abroad. The American Samoa case prosecuted by the U.S. Department of Justice in Hawaii indicates that some Vietnamese police may have facilitated this trafficking by investigating Vietnamese workers labeled as "troublemakers" by the employers. Victims are usually not detained, arrested or otherwise punished, but the government routinely sends women who engage in prostitution within the country to "rehabilitation centers." The centers provide medical treatment, vocational training, and counseling and seek to deter the women's return to prostitution. The government's rehabilitation efforts include "re-education" and limit freedom of movement. Moreover, rehabilitation that takes place at provincial and local levels lacks adequate financial resources.


The Vietnamese government does not implement specific anti-trafficking programs, although the Ministry of Public Security in 2003 did establish a separate office dedicated to trafficking concerns and held a high-level inter-agency meeting on improving performance on trafficking issues, chaired by a Deputy Prime Minister. The government, moreover, cooperated with several international organizations on anti-trafficking studies in 2003 and sponsored public awareness campaigns using television and newspapers.

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