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UNODC Supports the Protection of Human Trafficking Victims

Nearly one third of global human trafficking involves women and children from South-East Asia. About 60 percent of this occurs within the region of Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) itself.

-Handbook for Effective Police Responses to Violence Against Women, UNODC, 2010

Human traffickers promise their victims a better life, while luring them into a life of slavery. Victims remain enslaved day after day, with little hope for escape. In order to combat this heinous crime, on 5 March 2012, the Lao Women's Union (LWU) received a grant of $5,000 USD from the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC).

Mr. Leik Boonwaat, UNODC Representative to the Lao PDR, signed the grant agreement with Ms. Thoummaly Vongphachanh, Director General of the Counseling and Protection Centre for Women and Children. Ms. Tracy Taylor, Chief of the Political and Economic Section, and Dr. Amphayvanh, Vice-President of the LWU were there to witness the signing of the agreement. The Counseling and Protection Centre, located in the suburbs of the capital of Vientiane, currently houses around 15 trafficking victims, all of whom are young women.

The centre objectives are to protect the rights of human trafficking victims through mental and physical rehabilitation, legal assistance and medical treatment. Furthermore the centre strives to give victims the confidence and skills they require to return to life with their families and communities.

The Government of Lao PDR is committed to the fight against human trafficking. The country ratified the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime (UNTOC) and the Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children (the TIP Protocol) attached thereto in 2003.  To date, both the government and civil society organizations have made efforts to prevent human trafficking, as well as protecting and supporting victims in rehabilitation and reintegration into society. The National Assembly plans to draft a comprehensive anti-human trafficking law as an additional tool for prevention, prosecution and protection.

The grant is being provided under the UNODC LAOX26 Project: Strengthening Criminal Justice Responses to Human Trafficking in Lao PDR. The project is partially funded by the Government of the United States of America. The project will empower victims of human trafficking through greater access to legal services and referrals. To achieve this objective, the project will strengthen the capacity of victim service providers by providing small grants for shelters and organizations that support victims of human trafficking.

Dr Amphayvanh Vice President of the LWU ( fourth from left) and Ms. Tracy Taylor,(fourth from the right)  from the US Embassy witnessed the signing of the grant agreement.