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New project to fight human trafficking

Article from Vientiane Times
Author: Souknilundon Southivongnorath
Published: 28/03/2011
Newspaper section: International Cooperation

New project to fight human trafficking

Strengthening criminal justice responses is the latest focus of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime's (UNODC) fight against human trafficking in Laos.

UNODC is making available US$750,000 for the project called 'Strengthening Criminal Justice Responses to Human Trafficking in Lao PDR', a three-year plan which will be implemented in partnership with the Ministry of Justice.

A signing ceremony for the project was held on Friday, led by Deputy Minister of Justice Professor Ket Kiettisack, Representative for UNODC Leik Boonwat and US Ambassador to Laos Karen B. Stewart.

The project is being carried out under the guidance of the National Steering Committee on Human Trafficking in Laos. The main objective of the project is to reduce human trafficking by strengthening the country's capacity to implement its laws to effectively prevent, investigate and prosecute human traffickers and protect and empower victims of trafficking. This will be achieved by working on and strengthening the synergies between the three Ps Prosecution, Protection and Prevention.

UNODC is mandated to assist UN member states in their struggle against illicit drugs, crime and terrorism.

Representative for UNODC Leik Boonwat thanked the deputy justice minister for the commitment and support in the project's formulation and approval process. "I firmly believe that this project represents an important step in the fight against human trafficking in Laos.

It builds on the 'Strengthening the Legal and Law Enforcement Institutions to Prevent and Combat Human Trafficking' project, which was successfully implemented from 2006 to 2010," he explained.

He added that human trafficking is a horrendous crime that affects women, children and men across the globe, including in Laos. "We have an ambitious but attainable agenda ahead of us. Through this project, victims will be protected and empowered, and the young and vulnerable will learn how to stay safe from becoming victims. Officials will be better equipped to carry out their jobs and bring perpetrators to justice," he added.

The new project will run from 2011-2013. The main areas of intervention are strengthening the legal framework and legal reform on human trafficking, capacity-building and training of legal and law enforcement officials, awareness-raising of victims rights at grassroots level through media, and victim empowerment and protection by strengthening access to services and legal assistance.

The project will contribute to achieving commitments and plans made at regional and national levels. The project will also work closely with the Working Group on Human Trafficking, the Lao Women's Union, the Lao Bar Association, the Faculty of Law and Political Science at the National University of Laos and the wider legal sector.