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Targeting the link between corruption & human trafficking

Vientiane, Lao PDR (4 April 2018)
- In a first for the sub-region, civil society and government experts from Cambodia, Myanmar, Thailand and the Lao PDR came together today as part of a UNODC workshop to map out the links between corruption and human trafficking and to brainstorm concrete steps to tackle the problem.

The participants - representing expert NGOs and a host of Anti-Corruption, Anti-Trafficking and Immigration agencies - analysed hypothetical journeys of different types of victims to understand better the way in which corruption enables human trafficking. Each country grouping then developed a range of possible counter-measures.

The workshop builds on the latest research by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) on Trafficking in Persons from Cambodia, Lao PDR and Myanmar to Thailand, which identifies corruption and a lack of accountability as factors underpinning migration-related crime across the region. UNODC is the guardian of the UN Convention against Corruption (UNCAC) and the United Nations Convention on Transnational Crime (UNTOC), the international legal instruments that set the global standard for responses to both of these crimes.

For generations, people have migrated from Cambodia, Lao PDR and Myanmar to Thailand in search of work. Despite the existence of formal bilateral agreements and growing cooperation between these states, most labour migration to Thailand is undocumented, leaving many migrants vulnerable to criminal networks who prey on those migrating outside of legal channels.

Mr Thepphathai Phanka, Deputy Director General of the Anti-Corruption Department at the State Inspectorate and Anti-Corruption Authority (SIA) in the Lao PDR, reflected on the broader context of the workshop. "If unchecked, corruption can undermine the stability of states and the wellbeing of citizens. The Lao PDR will continue to work closely with UNODC to ensure that criminal networks are unable to exploit gaps in the accountability of government institutions."

Benjamin Smith, UNODC Regional Coordinator on Trafficking in Persons and the Smuggling of Migrants, emphasised the significance of the workshop. "For all those seeking to eradicate human trafficking in Southeast Asia, tackling corruption is the next big frontier. Migrant smuggling and human trafficking could not exist on the scale they do without the complicity and collusion of corrupt officials. But this workshop is not just about raising awareness; it is about the sub-region coming together to take concrete steps, supported by partners such as UNODC."

Click here to learn more about UNODC's work on anti-corruption in the region.

Click here to learn more about UNODC's work on human trafficking in the region.