logo_unodcFebruary 2009: The UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) recently released its 2009 Global Report on Trafficking in Persons. While raising the alarm about this worldwide problem, the new report cites statistics suggesting that sexual exploitation is the most common form of human trafficking (at 79 percent, followed by forced labor at 18 percent).

“It is sick that we should even need to write a report about slavery in the 21st Century,” one UN official told the BBC upon the report’s release. “What we know is the tip of the iceberg, but we have no assessment of the iceberg itself.”

To view the complete UNODC report, click here.

ireland_map_lgMarch 9, 2009: Amid concern about reports of kidnapping and child trafficking, Ireland’s ministers have decided to discontinue a five-year adoption agreement with Vietnam until a new deal can be reached.

The article on the decision, which comes in the Times Online, is part of a larger pattern of revelations about the Vietnamese adoption system, which reached a climax in 2006 with the exposure of My Linh Soland, nicknamed “Dr. Evil” in the Irish press. Soland told reporters from The Irish Independent that she invented adopted children’s histories and paid off top Communist Party officials.

The ministers’ decision seems to have been informed by this year’s report on Trafficking in Persons (TIP) from the US State Department, which found “multiple arrests of private citizens and government officials for offering payments to birth parents in exchange for relinquishing infant children for adoption, creating baby-head-vietnam-touristfraudulent documents to conceal the child’s identity, and trafficking these children to other provinces where they were offered for adoption. In addition there were documented cases in which small children and infants were kidnapped and sold for adoption to persons in Europe, North America, or China.”

The Irish decision leaves stranded nearly 300 people who had been approved to adopt children from Vietnam.

logo_uniapMarch 6, 2009: The website of the United Nations Inter-Agency Project on Human Trafficking (UNIAP) has an excellent collection of manuals and other documents that serve as guides to fighting human trafficking. You can access them by clicking here.

UNIAP was established in June 2000 to facilitate a stronger and more coordinated response to human trafficking, in the Greater Mekong Sub-region (GMS) and beyond. UNIAP is the only inter-agency coordinating body on human trafficking of its kind within the United Nations system. It coordinates the policy and operational response to human trafficking within the GMS in collaboration with its key stakeholders:

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Check out the 2009 ViFF trailer!

March 5, 2009: Boat People SOS is excited to announce that one of our short films on the growing problem of human trafficking will be screened in April at the Vietnamese International Film Festival (ViFF)! Please watch this space to learn the time and place of the screening, as well as details of the film itself.

ViFF’s mission is to support, celebrate, and project a diversity of visions and voices from filmmakers of Vietnamese descent and films by, for, and about the Vietnamese people and culture.

The festival is an eight-day event uniquely showcasing films made by Vietnamese and Vietnamese diasporic filmmakers. Presented biennially since 2003 by the two nonprofit organizations Vietnamese American Arts & Letters Association (VAALA) and Vietnamese Language & Culture (VNLC), ViFF has featured films from all over the world, including Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Israel, Poland, United States, and Vietnam.

ViFF is held mainly at the University of California, Irvine (UCI), with some screenings at University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), and Westminster, Southern California. Each edition, ViFF attracts around 4,000 people coming from all over the world.

BPSOS is grateful to the ViFF panel for selecting this short film on human trafficking, a problem that in many cases has life and death implications for the victims. With tens of thousands of Vietnamese workers being shipped abroad to countries with dismal human rights records, the time is right to raise the alarm through events just such as ViFF!

tip2008_cover_1401March 4, 2009: The Penang office of the Coalition to Abolish Modern-day Slavery in Asia (CAMSA) is in the process of submitting cases to the US Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons (G/TIP).

If we can put Malaysia and Vietnam on G/TIP’s list in their annual Trafficking in Persons (TIP) Report, we can more effectively attack human trafficking at the international level.

Click here to read the assessment of Vietnam’s human trafficking problem in the most recent TIP Report (2008).

flagMarch 3, 2009: The US State Department just released its 2008 report on the state of human rights in countries around the world, and the Vietnamese government’s performance is summed up as”unsatisfactory.” Parts of the report confirm the findings of the Coalition to Abolish Modern-day Slavery in Asia, e.g., the statements about trafficking of Vietnamese workers to Malaysia.

The report goes into detail on human trafficking, noting that “[Vietnam] was a significant source for trafficking in persons. Women were trafficked primarily to Cambodia, Malaysia, China, Taiwan, and South Korea for sexual exploitation. Women also were trafficked to Hong Kong, Macau, Thailand, Indonesia, the United Kingdom, Eastern Europe, and the United States. There were reports that some women going to Taiwan, Hong Kong, Macau, South Korea, and China for arranged marriages were victims of trafficking. Women and children also were trafficked within the country, usually from rural to urban areas. Men were trafficked regionally to work in construction, agriculture, fishing, and other commercial enterprises.”

The new report also states that “Poor women and teenage girls, especially those from rural areas, were most at risk for being trafficked. Research by the MPS and the UN Children’s Fund indicated that trafficking victims could come from any part of the country but were concentrated in certain northern and southern border provinces, especially the Mekong Delta and central province of Thanh Hoa. Some were sold by their families as domestic workers or for sexual exploitation. In some cases traffickers paid families several hundred dollars in exchange for allowing their daughters to go to Cambodia for an “employment offer.” Many victims faced strong pressure to make significant contributions to the family income; others were offered lucrative jobs by acquaintances. False advertising, debt bondage, confiscation of documents, and threats of deportation were other methods commonly used by the traffickers, family members, and employers.”

To read the complete report on Vietnam’s human rights situation, including more extensive analysis of the human trafficking problem, click here.

unhcr_logoMarch 2, 2009: Representatives of the Coalition to Abolish Modern-day Slavery in Asia met last week with several key organizations to increase CAMSA’s effectiveness in combating human trafficking.

One such organization was the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). With international organizations like UNHCR supporting CAMSA’s work, we now have a stronger, wider network to fight human trafficking.

CAMSA representatives also met with Health Equity Initiatives (HEI), a local organization providing mental health services to refugees and other underserved communities. Because victims of human trafficking are vulnerable to disorders associated with different kinds of mistreatment, HEI’s services can be very valuable to the people CAMSA helps.

training  Vietnam Vietnamese BPSOS Boat People SOS CAMSA human trafficking seniors   Ủy Ban Cứu Người Vượt Biển UBCNVB nạn buôn ngườiPromotional photos like this one from SONA’s website hide a reality of physical, verbal, and mental abuse.

February 27, 2009: Would you put your fingers to the keyboard for a moment to save human beings who are virtually enslaved, vulnerable to everything from assault to rape? There’s a short window of opportunity for human rights advocates like you to help free some of the world’s most abused human trafficking victims!

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A young Vietnamese woman is helped to safety after being beaten by W&D Apparel factory guards on February 20, 2008.

February 26, 2009: The Coalition to Abolish Modern-day Slavery in Asia (CAMSA) is renewing its call for friends of Vietnamese victims of human trafficking to flood the inbox of the multinational corporation Aramark.

CAMSA has been campaigning since last fall to persuade Aramark, a giant clothing wholesaler, to pressure one of its suppliers, the W&D Apparel factory in Jordan, to end its notorious sweatshop practices. So far, that campaign has yielded good results in terms of university groups contacting the ‘fair business practices’ arms of their institutions and requesting a review of relations with Aramark. This has resulted in some uncomfortable scrutiny, and raised this question on campus: “What kind of conditions are our teams’ uniforms made under?”

However, campus associations of Vietnamese students and their allies can’t do this alone. Please join us in calling on both Aramark and W&D Apparel to do everything in their power to ensure that W&D’s Vietnamese guest workers no longer suffer illegal wage cuts, dangerous overwork, and physical abuse!

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February 25, 2009: The Coalition to Abolish Modern-day Slavery in Asia (CAMSA) this week dispatched representatives to Kuala Lumpur to meet with Malaysian NGOs, university faculty members, and foreign embassy officials to develop a stronger network to fight human trafficking. One focus of these visits is to explore more ways to identify victims of human trafficking.

At present, the work of foreign governments and local NGOs could be more closely meshed. CAMSA’s goal is to keep trafficking victims from falling through the cracks by tightening relationships among humanitarian service providers, nonprofit advocates, government officials, and other allies.

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