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News & Events
Vietnam Is a Major Source of Human Trafficking
Ngày đăng: 21/04/2011 - Lượt xem: 944

Sex Trafficking: Vietnamese women continued to be sent overseas as “brides,” with many ending up in prostitution. In 2007, there were approximately 100,000 Vietnamese “brides” in Taiwan. The flow of “brides” now reached Singapore, South Korea, and Malaysia. Young children continued to be trafficked from Vietnam into brothels in Cambodia.


Labor Trafficking is the much larger problem that remains unrecognized and ignored by the Vietnamese government). The largest human trafficking case prosecuted by the U.S. Department of Justice involved state-owned Vietnamese labor export companies. The Daewoosa case centered on a garment factory in American Samoa and Vietnamese and Chinese workers. Promising the workers a steady job with good pay, Kil Soo Lee, the owner of the garment factory, held over 200 Vietnamese and Chinese workers by confiscating their passports. He forced them to work 12-14 hour days. He kept them in line by beatings, starvation and threats to deport the workers. Security guards kept watch over the workers. Mr. Lee was sentenced to 40 years for human trafficking. His two accomplices were also sentenced in what Attorney General Alberto Gonzales called “the largest human trafficking case ever prosecuted by the Department of Justice.”

Labor trafficking was intimately related to and a result of Vietnam’s policy to “eradicate hunger and reduce poverty” (xoá đói giảm nghèo). Sending workers overseas was the main thrust of this policy. The number of exported workers rapidly increased from 30,000 in 2000 to 82,000 in 2007, with the largest number going to Malaysia, Taiwan, and South Korea. Since 2000, Vietnam had exported a total of 600,000 workers and by end of 2007 there were half a million Vietnamese workers overseas. They sent home the equivalent of two billion U.S. dollars a year.

Vietnam aggressively expanded labor export to both existing and new markets. Malaysia, which consistently commanded roughly 25% of Vietnam’s labor export market, illustrates the overall rapid expansion of existing markets: 27,000 in 2002 (Vietnam started exporting workers to Malaysia April 2002), 46,200 in 2003, 13,000 in 2004, 24,605 in 2005, 39,000 in 2006 and 26,706 in 2007, a steady increase reaching a total of 176,509 workers over the 5 years and 8 months period from April 2002 to end of 2007. There were 130,000 Vietnamese workers in Malaysia by year’s end.

In 2007, the government aggressively expanded labor export to the Middle East, which now made up 10% of Vietnam’s total labor export market. For example, the government’s goal for Qatar, a tier-3 country in the State Department’s 2007 Trafficking-in-Persons Report, was to increase the number of Vietnamese workers in this country from 10,000 at the present time to 100,000 by end of 2010.


The government’s aggressive pursuit of this policy created conditions conducive to trafficking. In 2007, there were some 150 labor export companies approved by the government to export workers. While the number of state-owned companies steadily decreased, the government owned stocks in most of the privatized labor export companies and had considerable influence on the appointment of their executives. Many of these labor export companies were part of an intricate trafficking syndicate. Applicants had to pay the equivalent of several thousand US dollars to not only the labor export companies but also layers of brokers and intermediaries—subsidiaries set up by the labor export companies. The fees could be very high for certain destination countries: up to $7,500 for Taiwan and $10,000 for the Czech Republic.

In June 2010, The US State Department's annual Trafficking in Persons Report downgraded Vietnam to Tier 2 Watch List. According to the TIP report, the Government of Vietnam “does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking.” "[Vietnam] did not show evidence of progress in criminally prosecuting and criminally punishing labor trafficking offenders and protecting victims of all forms of trafficking, particularly victims of labor trafficking and internal trafficking; therefore, Vietnam is placed on Tier 2 Watch List." [For further details, read BPSOS press release here and the full 2010 TIP report here.]

Although trafficked victims in Vietnam are encouraged to assist in the investigation and prosecution process and file suit against traffickers, in reality, Vietnamese court proceedings require complaints to be notarized and the local governments refuse to do so.Additionally, under the law, trafficked survivors are not detained, arrested or placed in protective custody against their will. However, the reality is that some are restricted from traveling outside their villages.

Vietnam must continue to make progress in combating human trafficking, especially labor trafficking. The U.S. government should pressure the Vietnamese government to implement their own laws regarding labor trafficking.


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