Collective safeguard against human trafficking, the greatest danger for migrant workers

Myanmar migrant workers cross the border between Thailand and Myanmar by boat near the Thai port city of Ranong on 3 July. Photo: Reuters
Myanmar migrant workers cross the border between Thailand and Myanmar by boat near the Thai port city of Ranong on 3 July. Photo: Reuters

By Khin Yadanar
Myanmar launched the campaign for eradication of human-trafficking in 1997, now reaching for over 20 years. And, in the ASEAN region, Myanmar managed to have performed the tasks of promulgating Law on Protection against Human Trafficking, forming the Central Committee for Protection against Human Trafficking and establishing the Police Force for Protection against Human Trafficking, taking part in signing the MoUs on Human Trafficking of United Nations and ASEAN.
Yet, likewise other developing countries across the world, amounts of migration are increasing in Myanmar, due to high rise of unemployment, scanty amount of income, many impacts of natural disasters in the country and armed conflicts.

Asian countries and dangers of human trafficking
Myanmar migrant workers are suffering from China-related forced marriages, Thailand-related exploitation of wages, forced labor and forced sex-slavery, Malaysia-related exploitation of wages or labor and Indonesia-related forced labor and exploitation of wage or forced labor.
So as to eradicate human trafficking, the State had accomplished the tasks of the promulgation of the law and formation of human trafficking protection organizations and police forces. Besides, Myanmar is implementing eradication of human trafficking in various sectors by drawing up 5-year plan on human trafficking. Now, 3rd 5-year-plan [2017-2022] has stated to have been launched, implementing the 4 tasks—cooperation with related departments, prevention of all Myanmar nationals including migrant workers from human trafficking, arrangement to promptly sue the culprits if cases happened and giving cares and supports over the victims.

Prevention human trafficking through 3rd 5-year plan
During the period of the project, existing human trafficking protection law is being amended in accord with the present situations. At the same time, a national-level implementation mechanism on supporting victims directly and handing over is being carried out. Accordingly, national-level acceptance plans for acceptance and rehabilitation of victims are to be drawn up, it is learnt.
According to the Ministry of Labor, Immigration and Population, researches are being made for prevention in advance, with sharing knowledge on safe and secure migration, strengthening process of judgment on civil offences, compiling national-level standardized categorization of migrant workers and managing to temporarily accommodate migrant workers, who are subjected to human trafficking also under way.
Presently, ASEAN Convention against Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children was approved early this year 2017, and the promulgations included in the convention was said to have complied with performances currently made by Myanmar. But, it is necessary to effectively take action against money and properties gained from trafficking in persons under the law on eradication of money laundry. Then, human trafficking networks can be uprooted, it was assumed.
Myanmar and Thailand have already signed landmark standard operating procedures on assisting trafficking victims. And, arrangements are being made to sign MoUs with India and Thailand on trafficking in persons.

Supporting trafficking victims
For eradication of forced labor, Myanmar joined International Labor Organization. Instructions had also been released with a view to effectively perform the tasks of prevention of human trafficking, to cooperate between human trafficking prevention police forces and local police forces and to give instructions for lawyers to abide by, it was learnt. In FY 2016-2017, K 73 million were supported to 57 males and 291 females—victims subjected to trafficking in persons whereas this years also 6 males and 23 females were subsidized with K 18 million, according to the central committee.

Promising conditions for plunge of human trafficking rate
Due to the active performances in eradication of human trafficking, US also upgraded Myanmar to the status of Tier 2 watch list in the report of eradication of human trafficking 2017. Becoming victims subjected to human trafficking while migrating from one place to another is attributed to many reasons. Only if these reasons can be solved, will dangers of trafficking in persons and challenges which will result from migration be able to be found out. Outbreaks of wars cause destruction of the national peace and stability and underdevelopment in national economy and education. On account of difficulty to survive, migrant workers are facing risks of trafficking in persons, while trying to get out of these problems. Failure to have an access to get academic learning may increase rates of human trafficking. According to the Ministry of Labor, Immigration and Population, the tasks of sharing knowledge on human trafficking across the world, giving information on employments workers would like to search through labor offices, finding out challenges on migration and dangers of migration without particular documents are being carried out all the time.
U Myo Aung, Permanent Secretary of the Ministry said, “10 per cent of the national population had been in various regions across the world as migrant workers. If they legally depart from the country, helps can be given to them. Most of them are weak in acquisition of rightful facts and information, becoming easy preys to brokers/middle-men. Due to illegal departure out of the country, especially via border areas, they happen to become victims. Had they legally left out of the country, the government can give assistances necessary. Laborer and employment offices opened in 78 townships can help concerning migrant workers. Moreover, MRCs, Migrant Resource Centers had been opened in places migrant workers are mostly crowded, presently in Yangon, Pa-an, Pathein, Sittway, Magwe, Mawlamyaing, Mandalay, Kyaukse, Myingyan, Dawei and now in Haka. In Yangon International Airport as well, Myanmar Migrant Worker’s Reporting Counter was opened with a view to knowing the amounts of departures of migrant workers. After 1990 when economic sanction was imposed migrant workers are increasing more and more. With the increasing amounts, there emerged more than 250 overseas employment agencies. Myanmar Embassies in foreign countries are carrying out the acquisition of numbers of migrant workers in foreign countries, it was learnt.

Penalties and prescriptions for human traffickers
In the law on trafficking in persons, it is strictly prescribed that a person who commits an offence to women and children are required to be sentenced to 10 years imprisonment or life imprisonment and fined. If committed to males, the culprit can be sentenced to 5 years to 10 years imprisonment plus fine punishment. If the offence is committed by the group of three and above, the culprits must be 20 years to life imprisonment. In case a culprit commits an offence punishable to 4 years imprisonment, while committing the human trafficking he can be sentenced to 10 years imprisonment to death sentence. Arrangement or attempt or collusion or organization or act of abetting or provision of monetary support to commit an offence included in human trafficking prevention law are committed and they will be given the punishments as prescribed in the law.

Danger of human trafficking and illegal migration
Just by crossing the border line to emigrate into neighboring countries, legal actions are required to be taken against them by immigration officers concerned and may be fired by border guard security forces. And, if they choose illegal routes they can be abducted or blackmailed or sometimes sexually abused. Every individual should note that they can be completely sold out or as sex slaves.
On study of victims, they are found to have lost memories, suffered from depression and fears, deterioration of health, physical and mental disorders. Some even attempted to commit suicides.

If decided to find greener pasture
If someone has already decided to go abroad or to other places, first of all they must have known all about the caller, such as names, phone numbers, addresses and other facts. Until these have been known, it is necessary not to excessively trust him. Anyone needs to ensure actuality of the employment in time. In case someone is forced to accompany or is paid advance money before departure or is taught to tell lies at check-points, he must know that he is going to be in for, hence the need to inform one’s guardians or relatives or other trustworthy persons.
If someone had been in alien countries and unexpectedly happened to be a prey to human trafficking they should have noted the place of arrival and situation of surrounding area. And, it needs to make acquaintance with people nearby. Moreover, everyone should have linked with social websites such as face-book, viber, we-chat and after then we need to work abroad, according to campaigners for eradication of trafficking in persons including the Ministry of Labor, Immigration and Population.

Translated by Khin Maung Oo

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