Laos Strengthens Commitment to End Trafficking in Persons

In line with international commitments, the Government of the PDR has actively participated in the Coordinated Mekong Ministerial Initiative Against Trafficking (COMMIT), together with other countries in Greater Mekong Sub-Region (GMS).

COVID-19 has introduced new vulnerabilities to human trafficking and exploitation. In this context, the Government is reviewing extensive implementation of the 4th COMMIT Sub-Regional Plan of Action (SPAIV) to upgrade it and starting to design a Trans-National Referral Mechanism (TRM) for countries to ensure victims of trafficking in persons are best supported and protected through the comprehensive cross-border assistance.

To address this challenge, the Secretariat to the National Committee on Anti Trafficking in Persons (Secretariat) of the Lao COMMIT Taskforce and UNDP – with closely supervised and supported by the National Committee on Anti Trafficking in Persons (NCATIP), and with generous support from the European Union under the Ship to Shore Rights Partnership with ILO and IOM – convened a two-day Reflective Workshop on Implementation of the Regional Plan of Action and design of the National Referral Mechanism, which was held from May 30-31 in Vangvieng.

The workshop’s objectives were to reflect on challenges in the past in implementing the previous Plan of Action by allowing the members of the Secretariat such as Ministry of Public Security, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Labour and Social Welfare, Ministry of National Defense, Lao Federation of Trade Unions, Lao Youth Union and Lao Women’s Union to exchange and further coordinate on their respective duties in protecting the rights of trafficked persons, identify good practices, and strengthen multi-lateral cooperation with other countries and actors in the Greater Mekong Sub-Region.

On the second day of the workshop, participants also discussed how the Referral Mechanism for cases of trafficking in the country would connect with other countries, to help secure sustainability and effectiveness of efforts to end trafficking in persons.

Chair of the workshop, Col. Mr. Kaenchanh Phommachack, Deputy Head of General Police Department, Head Secretariat to the NCATIP and Head of Lao COMMIT Taskforce, Ministry of Public Security, emphasised that “the COMMIT Process is a key initiative for the Lao PDR to ensure cooperation with other countries in the region on trafficking, and as a member the Government will continue its commitment to supporting this initiative across the core agencies” to strengthen regional response against trafficking in persons.

On behalf of UNDP, Mr. Seán O’Connell, Assistant Resident Representative, UNDP Lao PDR, expressed sincere thanks for and support to the efforts the Government of the Lao PDR has put into the COMMIT Process in close partnership with neighboring countries.

“Through our long, fruitful partnership with the Ministry of Public Security, Lao Women’s Union, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Labor and Social Welfare, Trade Unions, Lao Youth Union and others we have seen a great number of positive changes in policy and practice. These efforts ensure the needs of groups such as migrant are not forgotten and they are not left behind as the country moves forward to achieve the SDGs by 2030.” Lastly, Mr. O’Connell concluded by “thanking the EU for their support and UNDP looks forward to continue working closely with all partners under the COMMIT process”.

As secretariat of COMMIT Process, UNDP will continue its coordinating and technical support to the Lao Government to implement its international and regional commitments regarding trafficking in persons. Given its transnational nature, close cooperation between countries is key to addressing the root causes of trafficking in persons, and the Lao PDR plays a crucial role among these partner countries to end trafficking once and for all.

Source: Lao News Agency