17 June 2003

UNICEF and UNODC Join Forces to Fight Human Trafficking

VIENNA,  17 June (UN Information Service) -- On 12 June the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) signed a Joint Plan in which they pledged to join forces to combat trafficking in persons.

Under this new agreement, UNODC will work with the Government of Viet Nam to strengthen the  legal and law enforcement institutions. In particular, UNODC will focus its activities on criminal justice aspects, investigation methods, prosecution and features of organized crime. For its part, UNICEF will work with the Government to enhance trafficking-prevention measures, improve child victims' and other at-risk children's access to basic psycho-social services, facilitate the reintegration of victims in their communities, and improve the Government's monitoring capacity.

"There has been a precipitous rise in the trafficking of Vietnamese women and children over the past decade," said UNICEF Representative Anthony Bloomberg. "This modern-day form of slavery is depriving untold numbers of Vietnamese children of their most basic human rights. The agreement underscores the commitment of the United Nations and Government of Viet Nam to fight this troubling trend."

While it is difficult to estimate the exact number of Vietnamese women and children who are victims of trafficking, reports indicate that large numbers have been forcibly trafficked into Cambodia to work in that country's commercial sex industry. Thousands more have been illegally trafficked to China, Thailand, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan and elsewhere, where they are forced to engage in commercial sex work, exploited as bonded labourers, or forced into marriage.

Under the terms of today's agreement both UNICEF and UNODC will continue to facilitate cross-border collaboration with Chinese, Cambodian and other officials to shore up regional law enforcement, prevention efforts and better ensure the return of victims to their countries of origin. Moreover, UNODC and UNICEF will regularly exchange information about their anti-trafficking efforts, and coordinate activities to enhance anti-trafficking programmes' efficacy.

Viet Nam's Ministry of Justice and Ministry of Public Security will assume a leading role in these anti-trafficking efforts.

"By joining forces to combat the scourge of human trafficking, UNICEF and UNODC can better assist the Government of Viet Nam in developing a comprehensive approach to this problem," UNODC Representative Doris Buddenberg said.

UNICEF and UNODC are both advocates of Viet Nam's ratification and implementation of the UN Convention against Transnational Organized Crime, and its Supplementary Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children.

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