Last Updated: Tuesday, 22 July 2014, 14:56 GMT

Trafficking in Persons Report 2009 - Macau

Publisher United States Department of State
Publication Date 16 June 2009
Cite as United States Department of State, Trafficking in Persons Report 2009 - Macau, 16 June 2009, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/4a4214a8c.html [accessed 23 July 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.

MACAU (Tier 2)

Macau is primarily a destination for the trafficking of women and girls from the Chinese mainland, Mongolia, Russia, Philippines, Thailand, Vietnam, Burma, and Central Asia for the purpose of commercial sexual exploitation. Most victims are from inland Chinese provinces who migrate to the border province of Guangdong in search of employment, where they fall prey to false advertisements for jobs in Macau. Foreign and mainland Chinese women and girls are deceived into migrating voluntarily to the Macau Special Administrative Region (MSAR) for employment opportunities in casinos, as dancers, or other types of legitimate employment; upon arrival in Macau, some of the victims are passed to local organized crime groups, held captive, and forced into sexual servitude. Chinese, Russian, and Thai criminal syndicates are sometimes involved in bringing women into Macau for its legalized prostitution industry. Victims are sometimes confined in massage parlors and illegal but widely tolerated brothels, where they are closely monitored, have their identity documents confiscated, are forced to work long hours, or are threatened with violence. The control of some victims by organized crime syndicates makes it particularly dangerous for them to seek help. More rarely, Macau is also a source territory for women and girls trafficked elsewhere in Asia for commercial sexual exploitation.

The MSAR does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking; however, it is making significant efforts to do so. During the reporting period, the government passed a comprehensive anti-trafficking law and began to provide shelter, counseling, and medical and financial assistance to trafficking victims. Nevertheless, overall efforts to investigate and prosecute traffickers, particularly those involved in organized crime, remain inadequate. Victim identification and protection efforts also need improvement. Macau has the resources and government infrastructure to make greater efforts in addressing trafficking in persons.

Recommendations for the Macau Special Administrative Region: Push for greater investigations and prosecutions of traffickers under the new comprehensive anti-trafficking law; cooperate closely with source country governments on cross-border trafficking cases; increase efforts to identify victims of trafficking among vulnerable groups such as migrant workers and foreign women and children arrested for prostitution; ensure that victims of trafficking are not punished for crimes committed as a direct result of being trafficked; provide specialized training to Social Welfare Bureau social workers in providing assistance to victims of human trafficking and designate a social worker to assist trafficking victims in the shelter; and support a visible anti-trafficking awareness campaign directed at employers and clients of the legalized sex trade.

Prosecution

The Macau government made some progress in its anti-trafficking law enforcement efforts during the reporting period. In June 2008, the Macau Legislative Assembly passed comprehensive anti-trafficking legislation, which prohibits all forms of trafficking in persons and prescribes penalties ranging from three to 12 years' imprisonment, which are sufficiently stringent and commensurate with those prescribed for other grave crimes, such as rape. While the government conducted some investigations into cases of human trafficking, there were several cases during the reporting period of Vietnamese and Mongolian women allegedly trafficked to Macau for commercial sexual exploitation that Macau authorities did not investigate. Reports from law enforcement officials in source countries indicate a lack of cooperation by Macau authorities when requesting assistance and follow-up in cases involving foreign nationals. Two sex trafficking prosecutions are awaiting trial, both of which resulted from victims filing complaints with authorities. Macau authorities have yet to obtain a conviction of a trafficking offender. In October 2008, two Macau female sex trafficking victims were rescued in Japan after one of the victims sent a text message to a relative. Macau authorities worked with INTERPOL and Japanese law enforcement in the repatriation of the victims. Macau police arrested one trafficker in this case, who has not yet been prosecuted. Corruption is a significant problem in Macau, and is often closely linked to the gambling industry and organized crime networks. One Macau police officer arrested in 2007for allegedly blackmailing two women in prostitution for "protection" fees has not been brought to trial. Macau authorities did not report any allegations of official complicity with human trafficking in 2008. The control of Macau, Chinese, Russian, and Thai criminal syndicates over Macau's lucrative sex trade continued to challenge the effectiveness of prosecution efforts in Macau.

Protection

MSAR authorities demonstrated some efforts to protect trafficking victims in 2008. Although Macau authorities, with NGO assistance, developed guidelines for the proactive identification of trafficking victims, most trafficking victims were self-identified. Foreign victims found it extremely difficult to escape their state of servitude given the lack of services in their native language and the lack of their government's diplomatic representation in Macau. During the reporting period, several foreign women were trafficked to Macau for commercial sexual exploitation but were not identified by Macau authorities; they were instead assisted by foreign NGOs and their home governments, who arranged for their repatriation. The Macau government provided temporary shelter, counseling, and financial and medical services to 23 victims of trafficking in a shelter run by the Social Welfare BureauOne additional victim stayed in a local NGO shelter. Victims are provided a weekly stipend during their time in the shelters, but are not offered legal alternatives to their removal to countries where they may face hardship or retribution. Due to the lack of effective victim identification, other victims were likely deported for immigration violations. Persons detained for immigration violations were usually deported and barred from re-entry to Macau for up to two years. The Women's General Association of Macau receives government funding to run a 24-hour trafficking victim assistance hotline. Although the Macau police also ran a trafficking hotline, the public appeared to lack awareness about the hotline's existence, and no trafficking cases were identified from hotline calls during the reporting period.

Prevention

The government demonstrated progress in its trafficking prevention efforts. The government continued to publish anti-trafficking brochures in multiple languages that were displayed at border checkpoints, hospitals, and public gathering areas. It also ran radio and television advertisements, and organized several seminars to increase public awareness of human trafficking, in which senior Macau government officials called on the public to help the government fight trafficking. Authorities set aside funding to conduct an independent evaluation of the trafficking situation in Macau in 2009. The government did not take measures during the reporting period to reduce the demand for commercial sex acts or conduct any awareness campaigns targeting clients of Macau's legalized prostitution industry.

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