Report on SE Asia human trafficking
BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN
THE ASEAN Commission on Women and Children (ACWC) will draft a report on human trafficking in Southeast Asia, highlighting how trafficking disproportionately affects women and children.
Datin Paduka Hjh Intan Kassim, Brunei’s representative to the ACWC as well as the current chairperson, said the report will detail the laws, policies, and practices within ASEAN countries relating to the identification, management, and treatment of victims of trafficking.
The report will also include recommendations to ASEAN governments on how to address the issue. “The regional assessment, which has been conducted strategically to align with the ASEAN Convention on Trafficking in Person, provides ASEAN bodies, national-level governments, and civil society a unique resource to draw upon in the implementation of the convention,” said Datin Hjh Intan.
She added that the ACWC hopes to publish the report by the end of the year.
Last month, Brunei courts convicted three people of trafficking a 17-year-old Thai girl into the country for sex work, in just the second human trafficking conviction since specific legislation was enacted in 2004.
Deputy Public Prosecutor Karen Tan, who handled that case, said the laws were designed to ensure that women and children – who are at a higher risk of being exploited – are protected.
“There is a section that provides for a specific minimum penalty that is different from adult trafficking, to show the abhorrence where a child is a victim of trafficking because children are more vulnerable and therefore, requires more protection,” she said.
Although the Royal Brunei Police Force has investigated hundreds of cases of suspected human trafficking since the anti-trafficking legislation was introduced, only a handful of cases have been prosecuted in court.
Deputy Public Prosecutor Chris Ng said this was due to a lack of strong evidence and victims being uncooperative in providing testimony. Several criteria must be proved to obtain a conviction – such as the use of threats, deception, abuse of power and recruitment or transport of an individual for the purpose of exploitation.
However, the Attorney General’s Chambers said it is currently reviewing the Trafficking and Smuggling of Persons Order as part of efforts to improve laws combating trafficking in persons.
The Brunei Times