A record 93 trafficking cases were investigated in November, according to figures from the Myanmar Police Force anti-human trafficking unit released last week. Of the cases investigated, 60 involved trafficked children.
“The 60 cases prosecuted in November are directly linked to the specific situation of the boat crisis in late May,” said UNICEF spokesperson Mariana Palavra.
“There are other causes of child trafficking across Myanmar and hence the number of children trafficked is higher than the ones related to the boat crisis. The 60 child victims were repatriated back to their home, in Rakhine. UNICEF has followed up the cases and support needed.”
The anti-human trafficking unit also said that of the 617 people known to have been trafficked in the 11 months to the end of November, 500 were rescued, of whom 100 were children. The unit said that 120 trafficking cases were reported during the 11 months, with 226 arrests made and 129 suspects still at large.
Most trafficking cases are reported in Shan State, followed by Mandalay and Yangon regions and Kachin State.
Since 2006, the unit is reported to have investigated 1,243 trafficking cases, rescued 2,500 victims and sent more than 2,000 suspected traffickers to trial. The maximum penalty for trafficking under the anti-trafficking in persons law enacted ten years ago is life imprisonment.
Is the Government doing enough to solve the human trafficking problem?
UNICEF’s Mariana Palavra thinks progress is being made. “A new draft of the Anti-Trafficking Law has been prepared including a revised chapter on child victims of trafficking taking into account UNICEF’s technical inputs. UNICEF provided intensive support to victims of the ‘Boat Crises’ in 2015, when children were discovered at sea en route to destinations across South East Asia,” she said.
In order to build the capacity of the government, UNICEF trained 90 judges on child rights in the context of the justice system and on child friendly judicial proceedings, said Palavra.
“UNICEF trained 135 police, General Police as well as anti-trafficking police, in child friendly procedures in 2015,” she added. “Jointly with the Anti Trafficking Task Forces, UNICEF provided technical support and trainings to Community Watch Groups across the country, especially in Rakhine and Kachin.”