Human trafficking, cybercrimes, traps on the Internet
THE number of cases of human trafficking is on the rise in Asian countries and Myanmar is also one of these countries facing the same case.
Trafficking in persons includes internal trafficking as well as forced into domestic labour, prostitution or marriage, child trafficking and debt bondage in addition to new forms of trafficking like surrogate motherhood that emerged in 2018.
There are different types of human trafficking, most of the women and girls are being trafficked for exploitation: forced into domestic labour, prostitution or marriage while men are slaves away at fishing net floats, casinos and other illegal workplaces. Seven Myanmar women trafficked to Dubai in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) were rescued and repatriated to Myanmar with cooperation between the two countries’ police forces last year.
Anti-Trafficking in Persons Law
The Anti-Trafficking in Persons Law, a State Administration Council Law No 41/2022 was enacted on 16 June 2022. Myanmar signed the subsequent treaty of the UN Convention against transnational organized crimes, human trafficking and human smuggling. Similarly, the country ratified the Convention on the Rights of the Children, the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women, the Forced Labour Convention and the UN Convention against Corruption.
Moreover, the Central Body for Suppression of Trafficking in Persons and Anti-Trafficking Task Force were organized and it also set a five-year plan for trafficking in persons under the Anti-Trafficking in Person Law. Currently, it also organizes community-based anti-trafficking task forces to prevent and combat trafficking. Online as a trap for trafficking
The Philippine police rescued more than 2,700 Filipino and foreign workers including Chinese, Vietnamese, Indonesian, and Myanmar who were allegedly trafficked into the country to work for an online casino from seven buildings in Las Piñas on 27 June.
Social media is a source tool for the new forms of human trafficking, cybercrime and scams and also an enabler of posting job offers and promising work opportunities for Myanmar citizens. Moreover, the young Myanmar boys and girls moved to the border towns in groups for employment faced fraud and were trafficked.
The leaders of ASEAN countries pledged to boost border control and law enforcement and expand awareness-raising campaigns on human trafficking as criminals increasingly use social media and other online platforms to recruit and exploit victims.
In 2022, there was a case in which victims were persuaded into well-paid jobs by brokers online and sold to a criminal gang in a border town.
Awareness-raising activities, protection
As the world continues to transform digitally, Internet technologies are increasingly being used for the facilitation of trafficking in persons, the UNODC urged the use of the power of technology to prevent trafficking and detect and investigate trafficking networks. Myanmar also launches awareness-raising activities and protects young people from the most dangerous community engaging in human trafficking by cooperating with anti-trafficking organizations.
The country prevented 81 cases of human trafficking, helping 840 people - 468 males and 372 females in 2021. It also helped its nationals who were trafficked — six from China, and 25 from Cambodia, a total of 31, to commute back to the State within the third quarter of this year. Myanmar citizens who fall into traps
“Regionally, Yangon Region and Shan State registers the highest cases, followed by Mandalay and Ayeyawady regions and Kachin State ranks third, among others,” a member of Anti-Trafficking Task Force told The Global New Light of Myanmar.
Most of the women are trafficked to China to be wives. The authorities arrested the traffickers and the courts ordered punishment. The court sentenced two people to 20 years imprisonment with labour each for their involvement in trafficking five women to Chinese men offering K10 million as an incentive on 10 July under Section 38 (a) of the Anti-Trafficking in Persons Law.
“I agreed to go to China for a big incentive that we would get high salaries at the garment factories. The broker sent me to China through an illegal route. I took buses to get there and stayed at a female broker for two days. I had met with a Chinese man. I was forced to marry him and they didn’t allow me to go out. Then, I asked Chinese police for help via Myanmar citizens on WeChat. I arrived back in Myanmar in 2019,” a 37-year-old woman who was sold as a bride to a Chinese man told The Global New Light of Myanmar.
Those migrating from place to place and facing a struggle for survival daily encounter the most dangerous situation, and lack of knowledge, high money expectations, trusting others easily, cutting corners and being a pliant person are the key points of human trafficking.
Tiger raft (bamboo fishing raft) to online gambling and casino
“The political instability leads to scarcity of job opportunities for the youths. Meanwhile, online financial frauds and online gambling businesses offer big incentives to recruit new staff and the youths apply for these jobs and are trafficked. They are forced to work as online scammers. The youths from our village are among these victims. Although we’ve heard men are trafficked to work on bamboo fishing rafts, now, the people are trafficked in online gambling areas and casinos as a new type of human trafficking,” Ko Htay Win, Sagaing Region resident told The Global New Light of Myanmar (GNLM).
Illegal online gambling and casinos are concentrated in the Thai-Myanmar border towns like Myawady and Shwe Kokko of Kayin State including Laukkai, Tongchain and Mongla of Northern Shan State. These areas are alleged hubs for fraud, human trafficking and drug trade.
Cross-border crimes to be combatted through cooperation
On 25 July, Chinese Ambassador to Myanmar Chen Hai stressed the need for collaborative action to address criminal activities operating along the China-Myanmar border in addition to the telecommunications fraud, particularly in the northern part of Myanmar and its border regions during the meeting with the Union Minister for Foreign Affairs U Than Swe in Nay Pyi Taw.
Similarly, Indonesia and Russia signed an extradition agreement on 31 March to strengthen cooperation against transnational crimes and the transfer of prisoners. It was signed by Indonesia’s law minister Yasonna Laoly and Russia’s justice minister Konstantin Chuychenko.
“This is very important as it helps us to deal with transnational crimes such as cybercrime, money laundering, drugs and corruption,” said Laoly.