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

Vietnam (Tier 2)

Vietnam is a source and destination country for men, women, and children trafficked for the purposes of sexual exploitation and forced labor. Vietnamese women and girls are trafficked to Cambodia, the People's Republic of China (P. R. C. ), Thailand, Hong Kong, Macau, Malaysia, Taiwan, the United Kingdom, and the Czech Republic for commercial sexual exploitation. Traffickers sometimes disguise victims as tourists or workers under a labor export program and traffic them to Hong Kong, Taiwan, or Malaysia, or recruit girls through job service centers and then sell them to gangs based in the P. R. C. and Malaysia or use Internet chat rooms to lure prospective victims.

There continued to be credible reports that some Vietnamese women married through international brokers have been trafficked or abused. The number of fraudulent marriages to Taiwan nationals has decreased, due to more stringed immigration regulations by the Taiwanese authorities, while the number of South Korea-destined brides has more than doubled in the last five years. Vietnamese women and girls are lured with promises of employment and trafficked into sexual exploitation, forced labor, and forced marriage in the P. R. C. There were some reported cases of Vietnamese children trafficked to the United Kingdom to work in the drug trade. There are reports of Vietnamese women and men trafficked to Malaysia, Taiwan, Thailand, Saudi Arabia, and the Middle East for forced and bonded labor as domestics, factory workers, or in the construction industry. Some of Vietnam's licensed and unlicensed export migrant labor recruiting agencies have contributed to trafficking, in some cases charging clients upward of $7,000 for the opportunity to work abroad, and leading some men and women into debt bondage and abusive labor situations abroad. In 2006, the Government of Vietnam passed a new Export Labor Law to better regulate such export labor enterprises and make overseas work contracts and fees more transparent. The new law will take effect in late 2007. Vietnam is a destination country for trafficked Cambodian children who are taken to urban centers for forced labor or sexual exploitation. There is also significant internal trafficking of women and children from rural areas to urban centers and of street children for forced labor and sexual exploitation.

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 made progress in combating sex trafficking over the past year by improving funding and implementation of its 2004-2010 National Program of Action and by overall increasing its investigations, arrests, prosecutions, and convictions of traffickers. In addition, Vietnam has built key anti-trafficking partnerships with Cambodia and the P. R. C. Vietnam needs to take more steps to protect foreign workers from being trafficked and to protect those that are victims of involuntary servitude. Passage of the new Export Labor Law in late 2006 holds promise if adequately implemented and enforced. Vietnam should also make efforts to prosecute and convict any public officials who profit from or are involved in trafficking. The Vietnamese government should continue to step up efforts to vigorously prosecute and sentence foreign sex tourists.


The Vietnamese government demonstrated increased law enforcement efforts to combat trafficking in persons. Vietnam criminally prohibits all forms of sex trafficking through the 2003 Ordinance on Prevention of Prostitution. Articles 119,120, and 275 of its 1999 penal code cover trafficking in women, children, and all persons for labor exploitation, respectively. Penalties prescribed for trafficking for sexual and labor exploitation are sufficiently stringent and those for sexual exploitation are commensurate with those for other grave crimes. Lack of standardized and comprehensive legislation impedes more effective punishment of trafficking offenders. The Supreme People's Court reported that in 2006, Vietnamese courts tried more than 700 trafficking cases nationwide, with a total of 1,700 victims of which more than 200 involved children. Vietnamese courts convicted more than 500 individuals on trafficking charges last year with several receiving the 20-year maximum sentence. The Supreme People's Court cited these statistics as a 60 percent increase in trafficking cases over the last five years. The Ministry of Public Security police broke up a trafficking ring, led by a Taiwanese couple, involved in taking Vietnamese women to Taiwan, Malaysia, and Singapore for forced labor or brokered marriages and arrested 73 individuals and assisted 266 victims.

In May 2006, the government signed an anti-trafficking law enforcement memorandum of understanding with the P. R. C. and began joint cross-border law enforcement training and public awareness campaigns. Vietnamese officials arrested former British pop star "Gary Glitter" (a. k. a. Paul Francis Gadd) in 2005 and convicted him in 2006 for committing sexual acts with two underage girls in southern Vietnam. He was sentenced to three years in prison, which was reduced by three months in early 2007. Glitter initially faced more serious charges, but the government pursued lesser charges after victims recanted their stories. The government assisted in the USG's prosecution and conviction of a U. S. child sex tourist. There are no indications that high-level government officials are involved in trafficking, but instances occur in which local officials at border crossings and checkpoints receive bribes to look the other way. In Hue, government security officials broke up a criminal ring involving a local government official trafficking children to Ho Chi Minh City to sell flowers. In January 2007, Ho Chi Minh City police broke up two criminal rings trafficking Vietnamese women to Malaysia for forced prostitution.


The Vietnamese government demonstrated progress in improving victim protection and assistance in 2006. Trafficking victims in Vietnam are encouraged to assist in the investigation and prosecution process, as well as file suit against traffickers. The government has no formal system of identifying victims of trafficking, but the Vietnam Women's Union and international organizations provided training to the Border Guard Command and local authorities on how to identify, process, and treat victims. Trafficking survivors returning to Vietnam are not detained, arrested or placed in protective custody against their will. Non-resident women in prostitution are more likely to be incarcerated than locals and there has not been a concerted effort by government authorities to screen females arrested for prostitution to determine if they were trafficked. The government began spending $4.86 million from the 2005-2010 State budgets to improve services and facilities for returned and at-risk women and children. During the reporting period, the government issued new regulations and specific government-wide protocols for the return and reintegration of trafficking victims. It also issued Decision No. 05/2007, which established maximum rates for labor export brokerage fees and stipulates that these fees be charged only once and are reflected in the workers contract, in an effort to protect workers from debt bondage. The government established a global fund that Vietnamese embassies and consulates can tap into to assist in the repatriation of trafficking victims.


The Vietnamese government continued to demonstrate progress in 2006 in efforts to prevent trafficking through public awareness. Vietnamese Women and Youth Unions developed numerous anti-trafficking information products and advertising, radio campaigns, and interventions at schools in high-risk areas. The Ministry of Labor, Invalids and Social Affairs' (MOLISA) Department of Social Evils Prevention conducted public awareness campaigns targeting victims and high-risk groups. A legal handbook has been developed for judges and prosecutors. International organizations and NGOs continued collaborating with the government to provide training and technical assistance to various government and law enforcement entities as well as partnering in public awareness campaigns. Vietnam has not ratified the 2000 UN TIP Protocol.


This 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.