Human trafficking gangs claim 16 victims this year

VIENTIANE (Vientiane Times/ANN) - Sixteen young women have fallen victim to human trafficking gangs during the first five months of the year with most of them under the age of 18.

These findings were revealed at the National Committee for Prevention and Control of Human Trafficking meeting in Vientiane last week which was attended by Deputy Prime Minister Dr Sonexay Siphandone, Minister of Public Security, Major General Somkeo Silavong and officials.

The meeting discussed implementation measures against human trafficking around the country over the last five months with the committee particularly concentrating its investigations in areas at risk.

According to the General Police Department under the Ministry of Public Security from January 1 to the start of June, 13 human trafficking case were recorded which involved the arrest of 21 people including nine women. Of the victims, 16 were female mostly under the age of 18.

Human trafficking is one of the most harmful crimes and is transnational. It involves the acquisition of people by improper means such as force, fraud or deception, with the aim of exploiting them. The victims of trafficking are mostly young women, and girls and boys under the age of 18.

Most human trafficking victims illegally enter neighbouring countries to seek work because they come from poor areas and need money to support their families.

Statistics for 2012 from the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime show that about 27 million people in 127 countries around the world, including Laos, fall victim to human trafficking every year, with 70-80 percent being women and children.

Laos and the other Mekong countries have reaffirmed their commitment to work with neighbouring countries to combat human trafficking more effectively.

In a bid to curb the illegal trade, the six lower Mekong countries - Cambodia, China, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam - signed a Memorandum of Understanding on the Coordinated Mekong Ministerial Initiative against Trafficking (COMMIT) in 2004. The Lao government is concentrating on preventing human trafficking, especially to protect women and children from criminal gangs involved in the insidious trade.

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