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ASEAN ANALYSIS  6 September 2010

Human trafficking still an Asean issue

By David Swartzentruber
AseanAffairs   6 September 2010

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The recent news that a major human trafficking operation in the United States that had moved about 400 Thai people into the Unites States underlines the significance of the issue in Asean countries.

Among other Asean countries, the Philippines appears to be taking more interest in thwarting human trafficking as in August the Immigration bureau stopped a total of 3,390 passengers about to board planes at the NAIA and at the Clark and Mactan airports in the Philippines. The basic issue is of course, escaping from poverty. A recently returned Thai worker, who had worked in Pennsylvania, bemoaned the difference in the wage scale between the United States and Thailand.

There are currently five Asean countries on the U.S. State department’s human trafficking watchlist: Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.

The recent human trafficking bust also indicates that developed western countries serve as targets for human trafficking operations and as such, they should step up their screening of those entering their borders. Apparently, the 400 Thais as subjects of the U.S. human trafficking operation had been in the United States for some time, as they had scattered across the country.

With the surge in Asian economies comes better wages, which may deter some of the human trafficking coming from Asean economies. The freer flow of traffic between Asean countries may also be seen as a positive development when the Asean Economic Community starts in 2015.

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