Lao authorities say the problem of human trafficking, which is on the rise in their country as well as in the world, is very severe. Laos Defense Minister General Douangchay Phichit says transnational human trafficking is an inhumane crime, which destroys human dignity and honor.
The Lao official made the remarks in a recent speech during a conference marking the International Anti-Woman and Child Labor Trafficking Day in Vientiane, saying that what is worse is that perpetrators of this inhumane crime have gone unpunished, and it is very difficult to bring them to justice. He added that human trafficking affects both women and children, resulting in forced labor in factories and sweatshops of children from five to 17 years old, and forced prostitution of young girls and women.
Although acknowledging that an increasing number of Lao women and children have fallen victims of human trafficking, the Lao government says it does not have an exact number of the victims, especially those smuggled to Thailand, the main destination for trafficked victims in the region.
However, the International Labor Organization reveals in a recent report released in Bangkok that there are over 1.8 million illegal aliens from Myanmar, Kampuchea, and the Lao PDR illegally working in Thailand and receiving only half of the minimum wage of 72 bahts a day. The ILO says about 70% of that number are from Myanmar, while the rest are from Laos and Kampuchea at a close proportion.
VOA Bangkok stringer Songrit Pongern says there are around three hundred thousand illegal workers from Laos in Thailand.
Recognizing the gravity of the situation, the six neighbors - China, Myanmar, Laos, Thailand, Vietnam and Kampuchea - agree to join their efforts in fighting transnational human trafficking.
Listen to our Laos Today report for more details in Lao.