Efforts to battle human-trafficking to be boosted

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 15 December, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 15 December, 2007, 12:00am

Public Security Minister Meng Jianzhu pledged yesterday to step up efforts to fight human-trafficking, saying the battle faced 'unprecedented challenges'.

Speaking at the opening ceremony of the Second Inter-Ministerial Meeting of the Co-ordinated Mekong Ministerial Initiative against Trafficking, Mr Meng said many loopholes remained in laws against trafficking and reintegration programmes for victims, making the fight all the more difficult.

'The goal to completely eliminate human-trafficking has not been reached yet. The crime of human-trafficking in the Mekong region still exists,' Mr Meng said.

'There are new features and trends with human-trafficking, making the fight or prevention more difficult,' he said.

Vice-Minister of Public Security Zhang Xinfeng told the conference that China was worried that the number of human-trafficking cases in the Mekong region might increase with the rise of economic activities.

Nevertheless, Beijing had identified only about 100 cross-border trafficking cases a year.

China has a much more serious problem with internal human-trafficking, with women often abducted and sold to peasants as wives - a result of the skewed sex ratio on the mainland - or as prostitutes, according to earlier media reports.

Children are also sold as child labour, as in the notorious brick kiln scandal in Shanxi province earlier this year, and as children for childless parents.

According to a progress report for the first phase of an action plan by the six countries - Cambodia, China, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam - which signed the initiative in 2004, China has rescued 2,160 internal human-trafficking cases, involving 3,371 offenders in the past three years.

But Mr Zhang said yesterday the number of internal human-trafficking cases had been declining by double-digit percentages every year since 2000.

He said an inter-ministerial panel comprising 28 government ministries and departments would be formed to carry out a national plan of action.

This would pay more attention to the rescue and support of victims, as well as preventive measures in the next five years.

'With the implementation of the five-year plan, human-trafficking of women and children - both cross-border and internal - will be reduced significantly,' Mr Zhang said