The US State Department’s 2007 Trafficking in Persons Report.
MAY 12, 2008: For the first time, the United States has criticized the government of Vietnam for its connection to human trafficking through labor exports.
According to Ambassador Mark Lagon of the US State Department’s Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons, the labor export policy of Vietnam easily leads to human trafficking because the labor export firms have a direct relationship with the government.
Lagon’s assessment, made during a meeting on international law held Saturday, May 10, represents a shift in the way Vietnam is viewed.
In the 2007 edition of the State Department’s Trafficking in Persons Report, Vietnam is designated as a country in Tier 2, which includes nations in which human trafficking is alleged to be happening, but whose governments are resolutely trying to eliminate the problem. That document reports that Vietnam has pursued hundreds of cases of human trafficking. However, in reality, those cases only concern the trafficking of women and children for prostitution.
Vietnam currently only has a law to deal with the trafficking of women and children, but it is the problem of exploitation of exported workers that is grave and expanding.
Critics say that Vietnam could resolve the cases of guest worker abuse in places like Jordan and Malaysia, but that handshakes between the government and the labor export firms, greased by lucrative contracts to send abroad tens of thousands of poor Vietnamese workers, make this unlikely for now.
The controversy over the recent beatings and severe mistreatment of 176 female strikers in Jordan, into which the US State Department was drawn, has played a role in awakening new concerns about the Vietnamese government’s labor export policies.