Speech of Mr. Jean Dupraz, Deputy Representative, UNICEF Viet Nam

In

Date: 27 January 2011
Event: Workshop on the draft Anti-Human Trafficking Law
Venue: Ha Noi
Speaker: Mr. Jean Dupraz, Deputy Representative, UNICEF Viet Nam

A very good morning to you all! I am pleased to be here today and I am happy to see so many concerned representatives from the National Assembly, the Government’s line Ministries and justice agencies who have come together to discuss the draft Anti-Human Trafficking Law.  Let me start by complimenting the Government of Viet Nam on the proposed Law which, in addition to law enforcement measures, pays due attention to the protection of and assistance to victims as well as to prevention by addressing the multiple root causes of human trafficking.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Traffic in persons is a global phenomenon. It is estimated that every year 1.2 million children are trafficked worldwide. One third of the global trafficking in women and children takes place within and from South East Asia.

Recently in Viet Nam, the incidence of trafficking in women and children has increased. It is estimated that each year thousands of Vietnamese women and children are trafficked both within and outside the country’s borders.  According to Viet Nam’s Ministry of Public Security in 2007 1,518 women and children were the victims of 568 trafficking cases. From 1998 to 2006, 5,746 women and children were reportedly trafficked overseas and 7,940 women and children left communities without any reasons and were likely trafficked to China or Cambodia. While many are being trafficked to work in the sex industry for commercial sexual exploitation, others are being trafficked for forced marriage, bonded labour, domestic servitude or for adoption.

Over the years, Viet Nam has made a lot of efforts to combat this crime, which particularly – although not only – affects women and children.  Viet Nam has indeed ratified a number of key international legal instruments directly and indirectly relating to trafficking in persons, including the Convention on the Rights of the Child, the Optional Protocol to the CRC on the Sale of Children, Child Prostitution and Child Pornography, the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, and the ILO Convention on the Worst Forms of Child Labour. Viet Nam is further in the process of accessing to the Hague Convention on the Protection of Children and Co-operation in Respect of Inter-country Adoption. The introduction of this Anti-Human Trafficking Law reaffirms Viet Nam’s commitment to fulfil the State’s obligations under international human rights standards.  Unfortunately, although the Convention against Transnational Organized Crime was signed by Viet Nam as early as 2000, it has not yet been ratified.  In order to adequately combat trafficking in persons, we highly recommend Viet Nam to ratify this Convention as well as its Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

As a representative of UNICEF, I would like to take this opportunity to bring to your attention some issues particularly related the prevention, protection and support of child victims, which have not yet been comprehensively addressed in the Bill.

Children in general are more vulnerable and more likely to remain victims, particularly when the perpetrators come from their own family environment or when they are trafficked at a very young age. There are a wide range of factors why children are more vulnerable to be trafficked, ranging from individual factors such as limited life skills, lack of parental care, and desire for adventure; to family and community related factors, such as domestic violence, substance abuse, status of children as property and limited economic opportunities. What is more, the impact on a victim’s physical and psychological health is much greater when the victim is a child. There is also a need to timely address emerging and under-recognised factors, such as migration, lack of birth registration and identification, exploitation of boys and girls and limited access to social and protection services. We therefore urge the Government to address these issues in a systematic manner and adopt special protection and assistance measures to child victims, taking into account their particular vulnerability and special needs.

To conclude, I would like to bring your attention to a particular age group, namely adolescents between 16 and 18 years of age. These boys and girls are among the most vulnerable to violence and exploitation. We would like to recommend this Law to define child victims as any person younger than 18 years. In particular related to this age group, it is important to stress that according to the CRC, in all actions concerning the child, the best interest of the child is paramount.  Child victims must therefore be protected from any kind of discrimination, including their age and their sex.  They must not be detained or subjected to administrative or criminal liability for their involvement in unlawful activities to the extent that such involvement is a direct consequence of their situation as trafficked or exploited persons - this includes prostitution, drug smuggling, illegal migration etc. Protection and support services should be tailored to meet the special needs of this vulnerable group including - but not limited to - physical protection, privacy safeguards, family tracing and reunion, alternative care, recovery and reintegration services.

In closing I would like to add that as the finalisation process of the draft law continues, we stand ready to offer our assistance to the National Assembly in its important task so that the new Law can fully reflect Viet Nam’s international commitments and better protect children in Viet Nam.

I wish you a successful and fruitful discussion.