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Mekong countries discuss strategies to stop trafficking

Update: February, 15/2012 - 09:20

HA NOI — Senior officials from six countries in the Greater Mekong Sub-region called for more efforts to promote regional co-operation on human trafficking prevention as they gathered in Ha Noi yesterday.

Speaking at the opening ceremony, Lieutenant General Pham Quy Ngo, deputy minister of Public Security, praised the region's Coordinated Mekong Ministerial Initiative Against Trafficking (COMMIT), signed in October 2004, for supporting and assisting country members to develop and implement national plans of action to address human trafficking and promulgate laws on anti-human trafficking.

"Viet Nam is determined to mainstream COMMIT into its national plan of action," Ngo said. "We have close co-operation with China, Laos, Cambodia and Thailand as well as non-COMMIT countries in prevention, suppression, rescue and repatriation to reduce trafficking cases."

Viet Nam's National Plan of Action against human trafficking in the 2011-15 period was approved by the Prime Minister in August 2011, and about VND300 billion (US$14.28 million) from national budget has been given to this programme.

During the implementation of the Sub-regional Plan of Action for 2008-10 (SPA II) under COMMIT, Viet Nam has developed various new legal documents related to anti-human trafficking and carried out many campaigns to raise awareness, particularly among poor and vulnerable groups.

UN Resident Coordinator in Viet Nam Pratibha Mehta praised the country's first Trafficking in Persons law to include men, which came into effect on January 1 this year after being passed by the National Assembly in March 2011.

Besides direct and comprehensive anti-trafficking legislation, Mehta said countries should pay more attention to provide forms of social, economic, legal and livelihood assistance, which is critical to reduce the vulnerability of those who have already been victimised by being re-trafficked.

"The experiences of trafficking can leave deep scars that victims, whether they are male or female, children or adults, need assistance to recover from," she said.

Some of the targets for COMMIT SPA III (2011-2013) include further developing anti-human trafficking data, improving research and analytical work and measuring the impact of multi-agency prevention, protection and prosecution efforts across the Mekong region.

The Inter-Ministerial Meeting (IMM-3) of Mekong sub-regional countries on fighting human trafficking will open tomorrow and see the signing of a second joint statement on anti-human trafficking.

Officials estimate that at least a quarter of a million people are victimised by trafficking each year in GMS countries. — VNS

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