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U.S. Department of State - Great Seal

U.S. Department of State

Diplomacy in Action

IV. Country Narratives: East Asia and Pacific

Trafficking in Persons Report
Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons
June 14, 2004


Map of East Asia and PacificAustralia is a destination country for Chinese and Southeast Asian women trafficked for prostitution. Many of these women travel to Australia voluntarily to work in both legal and illegal brothels but are deceived for coerced into debt bondage or sexual servitude.

Traffickers took Khan, an eleven-year-old girl living in the hills of Laos, to an embroidery factory in Bangkok. There she and other children worked fourteen hours a day for food and clothing, but no wages. After protesting, Khan was beaten. After further protests, Khan was stuffed into a closet where the factory owner's son fired a BB gun pellet into her cheek and industrial chemicals were poured over her. Khan was rescued and is now receiving plastic surgery and counseling at a Thai government shelter.
The Government of Australia fully complies with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking. Australia appears on this Report for the first time as a result of new information indicating the scale of the trafficking problem in Australia. Its Commonwealth Action Plan to Eradicate Trafficking in Persons, launched in October 2003, provides substantial financial and personnel resources to combat the problem both domestically and internationally. The passage of a new law, creation of a dedicated police anti-trafficking unit, and intensified efforts by immigration authorities to detect and assist trafficking victims were among the many positive steps taken by the Australian Government in 2003.

The Government prosecutes trafficking offenses under various statutes including provisions in the Commonwealth Criminal Code, the Federal Crime Act, and the Migration Act. Between June 1, 2003 and March 1, 2004, the Australian Federal Police (AFP) received 36 referrals from government and non-government sources. 30 cases are being investigated, two were rejected and four are being evaluated. Ten suspected traffickers have been charged with Commonwealth people trafficking offenses; the ten are being prosecuted in three cases. The Commonwealth Action Plan in October 2003 created a 23-member task force, the Transnational Sexual Exploitation and Trafficking Team located in the AFP. This team is specifically dedicated to investigating cases throughout the country. The AFP uses electronic surveillance, undercover operations, plea-bargaining and other enforcement techniques to investigate traffickers. Reflecting the government's heightened determination to fight sex trafficking a dozen cases have been filed against traffickers since the beginning of 2004.

Under Australian law it is an offense for Australian citizens and residents to travel abroad to engage in sex with minors less than 16 years of age. Since its inception in 1994, 12 pedophiles have been convicted under this law, which carries a maximum sentence of 17 years. Other penalties for trafficking offenses are as high as 20 to 25 years.

The government took significant steps in 2003 to improve efforts by police and immigration authorities to distinguish trafficking victims from illegal migrants and provide assistance to those victims, including counseling and temporary shelter. In the past, some trafficking victims may have been unintentionally deported as illegal immigrants. Currently, the Australian Government is making determined efforts to identify and elicit the cooperation of trafficking victims in providing criminal evidence for the prosecution of traffickers. The Australian Government in late 2003 streamlined its police investigation and immigration procedures and identified a number of trafficking victims willing to cooperate with authorities to investigate or prosecute traffickers, thereby qualifying them to receive "bridging visas" or "criminal justice stay visas." Cooperative victims are eligible for social security benefits, housing, medical checkups and treatment, legal assistance, social support and vocational training.

The government of Australia in 2003 expanded efforts to prevent new incidents of trafficking, largely through closer coordination with neighboring countries to prevent and investigate trafficking. During the last year, the government signed anti-trafficking agreements with Cambodia, Burma, Laos, and Thailand to improve international cooperation and police investigations of trafficking syndicates. The Australian government also funds awareness campaigns in source countries, in addition to programs designed to sensitize the tourism industry to the child sex tourism problem, and has worked to raise the profile of trafficking issues in the region through its leadership role in the Bali Process on People Smuggling, Trafficking in Persons, and Related Transnational Crime. Within Australia, the government has started an awareness campaign targeting the sex industry and the community at large; it also widely publicizes criminal cases against traffickers. The Government in 2003 intensified an awareness campaign to deter child sex tourism, though the distribution of materials to Australians traveling overseas. Australia also seeks the cooperation of foreign governments in the local prosecution of Australian pedophiles or their extradition or deportation to Australia so they can be tried for the extra-territorial offense of sexual exploitation of a minor.


Burma is a source and, to a lesser extent, destination country for persons trafficked for the purposes of forced labor and sexual exploitation. Internal trafficking of women and girls for forced prostitution occurs from villages to urban centers and other areas, such as truck stops, fishing villages, border towns, and mining and military camps. Burmese men, women, and children are trafficked to Thailand, China, Bangladesh, Taiwan, India, Singapore, Malaysia, Korea, Macau and Japan for forced labor including commercial labor, domestic service, and forced prostitution. Burma is also a destination for Mainland Chinese and Eastern European women trafficked for forced prostitution. The military junta's economic mismanagement and its policy of using forced labor are driving factors behind Burma's huge trafficking problem.

The Government of Burma does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking and is not making significant efforts to do so. Burma's placement on Tier 3 is due to government complicity in forced labor. In 2003, the government took some steps to combat trafficking for sexual exploitation, but significant state-sanctioned use of internal forced labor continues, especially by the military. The military is directly involved in trafficking for forced labor, and there are reports that some children have been forcibly enlisted into the Burmese Army. The Burmese government has been repeatedly censured by the ILO for its forced labor practices. Burma's actions have delayed implementation of an ILO Plan of Action on forced labor. In the last year, the government has, however, improved cooperation with UN agencies and NGOs in efforts to address trafficking in persons. Burma's complete failure to make progress on its large and serious forced labor problem entirely offsets the modest improvements in combating trafficking in persons.

Burma lacks an anti-trafficking law but uses kidnapping and prostitution statutes to arrest and prosecute traffickers. According to government data, Burma has prosecuted 294 traffickers since July 2002. No information is available on the convictions and sentences for these cases. According to the government, there were no prosecutions relating to forced labor. Corruption is a major problem as local and regional officials are suspected of complicity in trafficking. According to government reports, there have been no prosecutions of corrupt officials related to trafficking. The Burmese military continues to carry out trafficking abuses including forced portering and forced labor. The Burmese government does not adequately monitor its borders to prevent trafficking. The government also does not fully control all of its internationally recognized territory.

The Burmese government provides no assistance to victims trafficked internally for forced labor. The government continues to provide limited counseling and job training for returning victims trafficked for sexual exploitation. In 2003, the government set up a repatriation center on the Thai-Burmese border and provided reintegration support for victims returning from Thailand and Malaysia. Protection efforts, however, are hampered by a lack of funding. Although the government coordinated a limited number of victim repatriations with international NGOs, it does not provide funding for international or domestic NGOs for victim protective services.

The government's efforts to prevent trafficking are inadequate. Governmental measures to prevent trafficking for sexual exploitation include publicizing the dangers in border areas via government-sponsored discussion groups, distribution of printed materials, and media programming. These efforts remain under funded. The government has worked with the UN to educate officials and potential victims on the dangers of trafficking for the purpose of sexual exploitation.


Cambodia is a source, destination, and transit country for persons trafficked for the purposes of sexual exploitation and forced labor. Cambodian men, women and children are trafficked to Thailand and Malaysia for forced labor and prostitution. Cambodian children are also trafficked to Vietnam and Thailand to work as street beggars. Cambodia is a transit and destination point for women from Vietnam who are trafficked for forced prostitution. There are no reliable estimates available as to the extent or magnitude of the problem.

The Government of Cambodia does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking; however, it is making significant efforts to do so despite considerable resource constraints. Government officials recognize that trafficking is a major problem. In 2003, Cambodian authorities stepped up arrests and prosecutions of traffickers. Through collaboration with foreign and domestic NGOs and international organizations, Cambodia continued its support for prevention and protection programs. However, Cambodia's anti-trafficking efforts continue to be hampered by endemic corruption and an ineffectual judicial system. Cambodian government officials and their family members are reportedly involved in or profit from trafficking activities. Government action should concentrate on enhancing its capacity to tackle trafficking at all levels and removing officials, law enforcement personnel, and judicial members involved in or profiting from trafficking.

Cambodia does not have a comprehensive anti-trafficking law, although it has used existing statutes to prosecute traffickers. The Council of Ministers is reviewing a draft anti-trafficking bill that would provide law enforcement and judicial officials with more powers to arrest and prosecute traffickers. According to available data, the Cambodian police in 2003 investigated over 400 trafficking-related cases. The Ministry of Interior claims that 153 individuals were arrested for trafficking and trafficking-related offenses. Of these, 142 individuals are currently serving sentences and 11 are awaiting trial. Sentences ranged from 5 to 20 years imprisonment. Victims were awarded modest financial compensation by the court. Corruption and a weak judiciary remain the most serious impediments to the effective prosecution of traffickers. Cambodian authorities, particularly the police anti-trafficking unit, cooperated with the U.S. Government in arresting and turning over three U.S. citizens for prosecution for the extra-territorial crimes of child sex tourism, contained in the PROTECT Act. One of these arrests became the first U.S. conviction under the PROTECT Act. Cambodia has also cooperated with other foreign governments seeking to prosecute their nationals for child sexual exploitation.

Although hampered by severe resource constraints, the Cambodian government continued its efforts to provide assistance to trafficking victims. The Cambodian government operates two temporary shelters for victims and attempts to place victims with NGOs for long-term sheltering. The Cambodian government relies primarily on foreign and domestic NGOs to provide protective services to victims. Victims in Cambodia are not treated as criminals and have the right to seek legal action against traffickers. In 2003, Cambodia signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with Thailand to regularize the repatriation of Cambodian citizens/trafficking victims. Cambodia has proposed to enter into similar MOUs with Vietnam and Malaysia. Law enforcement officials have received training to sensitize them to trafficking and victim protection issues.

Throughout the reporting period the government cooperated with numerous NGOs and international organizations on prevention, including the strengthening of community-based networks to inform potential victims of the risks of trafficking. The Cambodian government, through the Ministry of Women's and Veterans Affairs, continued to carry out information campaigns, including grassroots meetings in key provinces. It also worked with NGOs to produce workshops, pamphlets, and videos informing the public about the dangers of sex tourism, including child sex tourism.


The Peoples' Republic of China is a source, transit, and destination country for persons trafficked for the purposes of forced labor and sexual exploitation. The domestic trafficking of women and children for marriage and forced labor is a significant problem. Chinese women are also trafficked to Australia, Burma, Canada, Malaysia, Japan, Taiwan, the Philippines, Europe, and the United States for forced prostitution. Women from Malaysia, Burma, North Korea, Nepal, Russia, Vietnam, and Mongolia are trafficked to China for forced prostitution. Many Chinese are smuggled abroad at enormous personal cost and are forced into prostitution or other forms of exploitative labor to repay their debts.

The Government of the People's Republic of China does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking but is making significant efforts to do so. The Government has adopted laws to fight trafficking and is working with NGOs and international organizations to improve law enforcement training and victim support services. The government needs to closely examine its policy of returning North Korean migrants and refugees to ensure that trafficking victims are protected rather than subjected to the harsh treatment they receive on their return to North Korea.

China's 1992 Law on the Protection of Rights and Interests of Women specifically outlaws trafficking or kidnapping of women. It also outlaws coercion into prostitution. The criminal code imposes the death penalty for traffickers who coerce girls under 14 into prostitution. In the period 2001-2003, the Chinese Government investigated 20,360 cases in which 43,215 women and children were rescued and 22,018 traffickers arrested. While the police reported a 27% decline in investigations in 2003, there were 3,999 suspects and 774 "snakeheads" (traffickers) punished for trafficking. In 2003, the Ministry for Public Security (MPS) and the Government of Thailand agreed on a framework for repatriating trafficking victims. The MPS is working on a similar agreement with Vietnam.

Most of China's trafficking is internal. While funding is limited, the government funds programs operated by an NGO to reintegrate trafficked women into their local communities and relieve the stigma attached to trafficking victims. The police has established a national DNA databank to match rescued children to their natural parents. 

UNICEF is working with the National Working Committee on Women and Children to develop a national plan of action. The government has launched awareness campaigns to warn of the potential dangers of trafficking through its law enforcement agencies and its school systems. Posters, videos and pamphlets are distributed throughout the country.


Hong Kong is a transit and destination point for persons trafficked for the purposes of sexual exploitation and forced labor; specifically, women from the People's Republic of China (PRC) and Southeast Asian countries are trafficked for forced prostitution.

The Government of Hong Kong fully complies with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking. Hong Kong authorities implement robust anti-trafficking measures. The government maintains effective border and immigration controls, carries out information campaigns to increase awareness of possible trafficking activities, has comprehensive criminal ordinances designed to punish traffickers, and provides access to protective services for trafficking victims. The government has improved its ability to identify victims, document their cases, and help them find assistance. In particular, the Hong Kong Security Bureau has implemented a system among the police, the Immigration Department and the Customs and Excise Department to carefully screen illegal immigrants for potential cases of trafficking.

Hong Kong has no specific anti-trafficking law, but related criminal ordinances are used to prosecute traffickers. The government reported the prosecution of 18 people for trafficking violations or trafficking-related offenses. While one case is still pending, 17 of the 18 have been convicted with sentences ranging from 18 months for more serious acts to 2 months for breach-of-stay offenses. Most of these cases involved causing prostitution, breaching condition of stay, or defrauding the Immigration Department. In the cases of forced prostitution, police made concerted efforts to arrest the traffickers. The government has devoted additional resources to combat trafficking. Law enforcement officers deployed to monitor security, borders, airports, flights and shipping, also monitor for potential trafficking. Hong Kong has taken preliminary steps to identify and document cases of possible trafficking-related activities but could improve its data collection capabilities. Hong Kong maintains effective border and immigration control.

Hong Kong provided sustained support for victim protection services in 2003. In most cases involving possible victims of trafficking for forced prostitution, Hong Kong's policy has been to grant immunity and repatriate the victims without charging them with an offense. Hong Kong provides trafficking victims with a range of protective services regardless of legal status or offense charged. Government-funded services include welfare, counseling, legal, and medical assistance. Trafficking victims are granted access to temporary lodging in women's refugee centers. Hong Kong provides foreign domestic workers with access to support services in labor suits, particularly domestic labor. The government provides training to police officers and social workers in the handling of witnesses and victims.

There is a degree of inter-agency coordination on trafficking among the police, immigration and customs authorities, private industry, and the NGO community. Hong Kong authorities regularly share information on local trafficking and smuggling patterns with the PRC and foreign law enforcement entities. The government also carries out information campaigns to increase public awareness of possible trafficking activities. Hong Kong's human smuggling police unit publishes a biannual report that provides updates on tactics used by traffickers. The government has also distributed multi-lingual pamphlets in key public areas to inform foreign domestic workers of their legal rights.


Indonesia is a source, transit and destination country for persons trafficked for the purposes of sexual exploitation and forced labor. Indonesian victims are trafficked to Malaysia, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, United Arab Emirates, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Japan, South Korea, Singapore, and Australia. Extensive trafficking occurs within Indonesia's borders for forced labor and sexual exploitation. Indonesia to a lesser extent is a destination for victims trafficked for sexual exploitation from the People's Republic of China (PRC), Thailand, Taiwan, Uzbekistan, the Netherlands, Poland, Russia, Venezuela, Spain, and Ukraine.

The Government of Indonesia does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking; however, it is making significant efforts to do so. The government recognizes that trafficking is a problem and has made strides to combat it. In 2003, the government made concerted efforts to increase media coverage and public awareness, collect law enforcement data, and provide shelters for victims abroad. Despite limited resources, the government also increased law enforcement efforts against traffickers. While local governments gave greater priority to trafficking, translating national commitment to local action remains a problem. The Indonesian government must take immediate corrective action to address internal trafficking, arrest and prosecute officials involved in trafficking, and step up anti-trafficking efforts at the local level.

The government has not passed a comprehensive anti-trafficking law, but a draft bill is currently pending. Indonesian law criminalizes trafficking but it lacks a comprehensive definition of the crime. Officials used existing statutes to carry out an increasing number of arrests. In 2003, the government reported 125 trafficking-related investigations, 67 prosecutions, and 27 convictions, resulting in sentences from five months to six years. The Indonesian government also formed a dedicated anti-trafficking police unit and cooperated with Malaysian and Australian governments in the investigation and prosecution of trafficking cases. Although law enforcement efforts increased, convictions for trafficking-related offenses often carried light sentences. Corruption and a weak judiciary remain serious impediments to the effective prosecution of traffickers. The Indonesian government has recognized that action must be taken against officials involved in trafficking. However, it is often difficult to conclusively identify trafficking-related official corruption. The government has dismissed civilian and police officials involved in producing false identification documents but has provided little information concerning specific actions it has taken against corrupt officials who may be complicit in trafficking.

Despite limited resources, national and local victim assistance efforts improved. However, victim protection remained inadequate given the scope of the problem. In 2003, government assistance to Indonesians trafficked abroad increased but assistance for internal trafficking victims was minimal. Despite limited resources, the Indonesian government operates shelters at its embassies and consulates in Singapore, Malaysia, Saudi Arabia, and Kuwait. The Indonesian government operates crisis centers and provides funding to domestic NGOs and civil society organizations that provide services for victims. The government also provides training to officials and law enforcement officers in the handling of witnesses and victims. Although the national action plan calls for proper treatment of trafficking victims, implementation varies widely at the local level.

The government made concerted efforts to increase media coverage and public awareness of trafficking. In 2003, Indonesia's president approved a campaign against child sex tourism. Although the government has a limited ability to fund prevention programs, it welcomed international assistance. The government continued to work with NGOs on anti-trafficking and education initiatives. Government-sponsored public awareness campaigns often featured senior officials and included television, radio, and print media. In June 2003, Indonesia hosted a meeting of the United Nations World Tourism Organization on efforts to end child sex tourism. Thereafter, the Indonesian government announced a campaign to end the commercial sexual exploitation of children in tourism, beginning with the major tourist destination points of Bali and Batam. The relevant ministries are working with local government officials in both places to strengthen law enforcement, and assist and protect victims.


Japan is a destination country for Asian, Latin American and Eastern European women and children trafficked for the purposes of forced labor and sexual exploitation. There have also been cases of Asian and Latin American men trafficked to Japan for criminal, labor and/or sexual purposes. Japan's trafficking problem is large and Japanese organized crime groups (yakuza) that operate internationally are involved. The Japanese government must begin to fully employ its resources to address this serious human rights crime within its borders.

The Government of Japan does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking; however it is making significant efforts to do so. Its placement on Tier 2 Watch List is based on its commitments to bring itself into compliance with the minimum standards by taking additional steps over the next year. The government needs to increase its efforts to combat severe forms of trafficking in persons, including increased investigations, prosecutions and convictions of trafficking crimes and better assistance to victims. The government should pursue efforts to prosecute the powerful organized crime figures behind Japan's trade in human traffic. Considering the resources available, Japan could do much more to protect its thousands of victims of sexual slavery. The government did, however, provide support for international anti-trafficking programs and conferences. Japan must speed its review of anti-trafficking legislation and ensure trafficking-related punishments are commensurate with the severity of the crimes.

Japan lacks a comprehensive law against trafficking and until recently there was no official, clearly defined policy to coordinate anti-trafficking efforts. The Prime Minister and his Cabinet have made a significant effort to mobilize the resources of the bureaucracy to address the trafficking issue, creating a senior coordinator presiding over an inter-ministerial committee for anti-trafficking efforts in March 2004. The government currently employs the Penal Code and a variety of labor, immigration, and child welfare/protection statutes to carry out limited trafficking-related prosecutions. These laws provide for up to 10-year prison terms and steep fines, but actual penalties have been far less severe. Efforts are underway in the government to draft legislation to improve Japan's anti-trafficking statutes. The National Police Agency (NPA) has instructed prefecture offices to increase law enforcement efforts against traffickers; investigate suspect locations and possible organized crime connections; report any foreigners arrested for prostitution who may have been trafficked; provide female officers to interview female victims; and provide counseling and medical assistance as required. An Organized Crime Control Department was established in the Japanese Police in early 2004 to carry out these anti-trafficking activities.

Last year, the NPA arrested 41 individuals for trafficking-related offenses, 8 of whom were traffickers. Thirty-six of these individuals were convicted, resulting in 14 defendants receiving prison terms, 17 receiving fines, and five receiving both a fine and a prison term. In February 2003, 17 prefecture police offices and the Tokyo Metropolitan police simultaneously raided 24 strip clubs and rescued 68 trafficking victims. The NPA also participated in 16 transnational investigations. Victims were generally not encouraged to participate in investigations or prosecutions of traffickers. However, the Immigration Service is revamping its training programs to include the proper treatment and questioning of victims. Efforts are also underway to improve screening of travelers arriving in Japan from key source countries of trafficking and to tighten the issuance of "entertainer" visas, which are often used by traffickers to bring victims to Japan.

Over the past year, the Japanese government offered victims of sexual slavery little in the way of legal advice, psychological or financial support. Generally, victims were deported as illegal aliens. This year, the Japanese government administratively decided to not treat victims as immediately deportable criminals. A short grace period for the victims will allow the government to develop its cases against traffickers. Some victims are temporarily housed in detention facilities for illegal immigrants prior to deportation. The government's prefectural shelters are open to female victims of violence and to foreign trafficking victims, but few foreign trafficking victims utilize the shelters for fear that they will be sent to an immigration shelter and be deported. The prefectural governments of Tokyo and Kanagawa provide modest funding to assist NGOs that operate shelters for trafficking victims in Tokyo and Yokohama. The government is examining new ways of assisting shelters and NGOs.

In 2003, the Cabinet Affairs Office conducted a campaign to heighten public awareness of violence against women and trafficking. The NPA also produced a training video on trafficking and distributed it to all police offices to improve their awareness of trafficking. However, little effort has been made to lessen the domestic demand for trafficking victims. Tighter entertainer visa issuance and entry control procedures were instituted in 2004 for nationals from Colombia, a major source of trafficking victims. The GOJ disbursed $3 million to UNICEF, ILO, UNDP and the Philippine government to alleviate poverty, raise awareness of the dangers of trafficking, and promote alternative economic opportunities for women.


Laos is a source, and to a lesser extent, transit and destination country for persons trafficked for forced labor and sexual exploitation. Laotians, many of whom are economic migrants, are trafficked to Thailand, where some wind up in involuntary servitude or forced prostitution. A small number of victims from the People's Republic of China (PRC) are trafficked to Laos.

The Government of Laos does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking; however, it is making significant efforts to do so despite considerable resource constraints. Laos' placement on Tier 2 Watch List reflects the lack of evidence of increasing Lao government efforts to prosecute traffickers and to provide adequate protection for victims. In 2003, the government took steps to combat trafficking but its efforts to prosecute traffickers remained weak and uncoordinated. While the government does not conduct extensive protection and prevention programs, it recognizes that trafficking is a problem and strongly supports NGO and international organization efforts.

Laos lacks a specific anti-trafficking law but uses various other laws, including kidnapping and prostitution statutes, to arrest and prosecute traffickers. An inter-ministerial committee is drafting an anti-TIP law, which it plans to present to the National Assembly in September 2004. Law enforcement is decentralized and the central government does not keep data on efforts of local officials to prosecute traffickers. The government does not normally make public information on trials or their results, but three prosecutions were reported in 2003, two of which resulted in convictions with sentences of one to three years imprisonment. The Ministry of Labor and Social Welfare (MOLSW) coordinates government action on trafficking, including the Lao Immigration Department's 2003 opening of an anti-trafficking office. Overall, judicial and law enforcement institutions are extremely weak and corruption is widespread. Some local government officials likely profit from trafficking. The Lao government does not effectively control its long and porous borders.

The Lao government provides limited protection for victims. The government has sponsored a program for housing returnees and offers them limited vocational training. Some provincial or district level authorities reportedly levy fines for immigration violations on those who departed the country illegally. This includes some who may be trafficking victims. Laos is negotiating a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with Thailand that addresses trafficking .

The government does not fund any anti-trafficking prevention measures in part because of a lack of resources. Most trafficking prevention projects are carried out by international organizations and NGOs, and include awareness raising and skills development for at-risk populations. The Lao government has provided in-kind support and staff for TIP efforts. It contributed manpower to a comprehensive ILO study on trafficking and migration and for the Immigration Department's anti-trafficking office. In cooperation with several NGOs, the government sponsored two day-long seminars on preventing the exploitation of children in sex tourism. The government, with NGO funding, has sponsored media messages on the dangers of trafficking. Through establishing high-level bodies to deal with trafficking, the government has improved its cooperation with NGOs and international organizations to monitor, document, and develop remedies for trafficking-related problem.


South Korea is a source, transit, and destination country for women from the Philippines, Thailand and other countries of Southeast Asia who are trafficked for the purposes of sexual exploitation. Some Chinese and Russian women are trafficked to South Korea. Korean women are trafficked to Japan and to the United States, sometimes via Canada.

The government of the Republic of Korea fully complies with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking. It acknowledges the problem and has shown a steady commitment to support victims, prosecute traffickers, and improve national laws to fight trafficking.

The South Korean government made further progress in addressing trafficking crimes during 2003. South Korea does not have a comprehensive law prohibiting the trafficking of persons. However, law enforcement authorities rely on several statutes including the Criminal Code, the Law on Juvenile Protection, and the Act on Additional Punishment for Specific Crimes to prosecute traffickers. A new law, the Law on Punishment of Procuring and Facilitating Prostitution prohibits pimping, procuring or the advertising of prostitution. It further punishes those who use threats, violence or debt bondage to force prostitution. This law declares that victims' debts to their employers are invalid. Under these statutes, punishments range from three years to life imprisonment and impose fines of up to $83,000. The Ministry of Justice conducted 792 investigations, compared with 450 in 2002. The investigations resulted in 119 indictments and 92 felony convictions. In 2003, the Ministry for Gender Equality developed a curriculum for the National Police to aid in identifying trafficking victims.

The South Korean Government has the means and the political will to protect victims. The Ministry of Gender Equality reported it provided over $800,000 for two shelters for foreign trafficking victims and $188 million for 26 facilities for domestic victims. Between January and June 2003, 33 foreign victims were placed in the shelters and 1,001 Korean women in the guidance and protection facilities. In addition, the government resettled 1,280 North Korean females who were trafficked to China and provided counseling, social, and economic assistance to integrate victims into South Korean society. Beginning in 2003, victims received free legal assistance on demand. The 2004 budget for legal assistance is expected to be over $700,000. While there is no victim restitution program as such, this legal assistance allows victims to file civil suits against their traffickers. In 2003, the Seoul District Court found a club owner guilty of forcing eleven Filipino women into prostitution and ordered restitution payments of $3400 to $5100 to each victim. During 2003, the Korean government cooperated with the U.S. Forces in Korea in identifying brothels suspected of exploiting trafficking victims and barring U.S. soldiers' access to them. In January 2004, the National Police spoke to 777 foreign women near the US military bases to advise them of trafficking issues and their rights.

South Korea employs a variety of tools in its prevention efforts. In June 2003, the government stopped issuing E-6 visas to foreign entertainers. Under the leadership of an active female police chief, the Korean National Police (KNP) printed a series of posters warning of the punishment for prostitution and met with Korean businessmen to encourage displaying the posters in conspicuous locations. The KNP also republished brochures warning about trafficking as well as a new comic book graphically depicting the hazards and illegality of debt bondage. The Ministries of Justice and Gender Equality jointly sponsored a meeting of experts on international trafficking and public awareness strategies that was attended by over 20 countries. The Ministry of Gender Equality also produced English and Russian language pamphlets on shelters and distributed them to South Korean embassies overseas and to the Immigration Bureau. The Commission for Youth Protection established an Internet homepage and a hotline for victims' use. Annually, the Ministry of Justice Training Institute conducts ten classes on various aspects of detecting and handling trafficking cases.


Malaysia is a destination and to a lesser extent a source and transit country for trafficking for sexual exploitation. Foreign trafficking victims come from Indonesia, China, Thailand, and neighboring countries of Southeast Asia. A small number of Malaysian women (primarily of Chinese origin) are trafficked to Western Europe, North America, Japan, Australia and Taiwan.

The Government of Malaysia does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking; however, it is making significant efforts to do so. The government acknowledges that trafficking is a problem, and has taken initial steps to combat it. Comprehensive counter-trafficking legislation is needed to help enable officials to deal with the problem. The government's National Human Rights Commission recently made positive recommendations regarding foreign victim protection.

Malaysia does not have a law that specifically and comprehensively addresses trafficking in persons. However, there are existing laws, including the Penal Code, that are used against traffickers. Malaysian law criminalizes most of the acts involved in severe forms of trafficking in persons.

In 2003, Malaysia prosecuted 70 cases of suspected trafficking under the country's Immigration Act. Malaysia prosecuted 24 cases under a trafficking statute; seven of these led to convictions. In addition, 40 suspected traffickers were detained without trial under the Internal Security Act; another 49 individuals suspected of trafficking-related crimes were detained without trial under the Restricted Residence Act. The lack of a specific law addressing trafficking in persons, as well as use of the Internal Security Act and Restricted Residence Act in lieu of the criminal court system, makes it more difficult to accurately identify and quantify trafficking statistics. The government should institute a witness protection program, encouraging knowledgeable victims to testify against the criminal syndicates that are responsible for much of the trafficking in persons in Malaysia.

The Government of Malaysia provided training for some of its higher-ranking officials. There is no systematic anti-trafficking training program to sensitize front-line police and immigration officers who conduct raids on brothels and could identify potential victims. While illegal migration is a major national security issue, it does not detract from the government's commitment to combat trafficking. The lack of government translators to interview foreign trafficking victims has significantly hampered efforts to assist victims. An NGO activist who maintains a shelter for abused women and TIP victims was appointed to the newly created royal commission on police reform.

Malaysia in 2003 continued an inadequate performance of protecting and assisting trafficking victims. Malaysian law does not codify the difference between trafficking victims, illegal migrants, and asylum seekers. Thus, victims, especially those who do not usually speak Bahasa Melayu, are sometimes detained. Royal Malaysian Police further lack the training and language skills to screen trafficking victims from illegal migrants. Foreign trafficking victims are often not recognized as victims and are treated as immigration offenders. The Government arrested and detained 5,564 foreign women suspected of prostitution, many of whom were likely trafficking victims. The Malaysian Human Rights Commission "Suhakam," reported in April 2004 that it questioned 1,544 foreign women imprisoned for prostitution and identified approximately 350 trafficking victims; some of these have been released. The Government of Malaysia turned over 300 victims of trafficking to the care of the Indonesian and Thai embassies last year. Malaysia has not engaged IOM in efforts to repatriate foreign trafficking victims. Victims who are arrested for prostitution are usually examined for HIV/AIDS. In a recent case, 14 victims rescued from a high-rise apartment building were sent to a hospital for care and subsequently turned over to the Indonesian embassy for repatriation.

NGOs do not receive government funding for trafficking victims specifically, although the government provides general operating funds for women's welfare. In 2003, the Ministry of Women's Affairs and Family Development opened five centers for women in need of shelter, counseling and job skills training. These shelters in early 2004 were made available to trafficking victims.

Given the relatively small number of Malaysian trafficking victims, the government has made only modest efforts to prevent new incidents of trafficking through public awareness or education campaigns. Domestically, Malaysian television broadcasts UN-sponsored public service announcements that warn of the dangers of trafficking. The Malaysian Chinese Association, within the Government's ruling political coalition, publishes warnings about trafficking in its Chinese language publications, makes public statements to caution potential victims about overly lucrative job offers abroad, and holds periodic press conferences highlighting the plight of returned Malaysian trafficking victims. Internationally, Malaysia places great importance on working with ASEAN countries to fight trafficking and shares trafficking intelligence with Australia and Interpol.


New Zealand is a destination country for men and women trafficked from the People's Republic of China (PRC) and elsewhere; it also faces a large problem of children internally trafficked for the purposes of sexual exploitation. A multi-year study published in early 2004 identified 145 prostitutes working in New Zealand that were 15 years old or younger. Another report indicated that a majority of prostitutes who responded to a survey started in the trade before the age of 18. Some women smuggled into the country are forced into prostitution to repay substantial debts to traffickers.

The Government of New Zealand fully complies with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking. New Zealand appears on this report for the first time as the result of newly available information indicating a significant number of trafficking victims.

New Zealand's laws criminalize trafficking, slavery and child sexual exploitation. Penalties for trafficking crimes are sufficiently severe. The Prostitution Reform Bill of 2003 legalized prostitution in New Zealand and attempts to clamp down on child sexual exploitation. There were three trafficking-related prosecutions in 2003. Criminal penalties for child exploitation, assisting in illegal migration, and for knowingly hiring unlawful workers can range as high as 20 years in prison and $350,000 in fines. New Zealand lacks a centralized data collection center to monitor human trafficking.

The Government supports many NGOs including one that provides services to commercial sex workers and some trafficking victims. The government provides victims with physical protection, medical services, travel documents, and repatriation. There are no reports of trafficking victims who have been jailed, fined or deported. In 2003, a Thai trafficking victim who had been freed from debt bondage won restitution in a civil suit against her traffickers.

The New Zealand Police and the Ministry of Education have programs geared to protecting children. There is no national action plan directed exclusively to trafficking but a national plan for human rights to be issued in 2004 will include anti-trafficking policies.


The Democratic People's Republic of North Korea (DPRK) is a source country for persons trafficked for the purposes of forced labor and sexual exploitation. The DPRK operates forced-labor prison camps to punish criminals and repatriated North Koreans. Thousands of North Korean men, women and children are forced to work and often perish under conditions of slavery. Many nations provide humanitarian assistance and food to the North Korean people, but deteriorating economic conditions continue to pressure thousands into fleeing to China, Russia and Mongolia. The North Koreans' illegal status in other nations increases their vulnerability to trafficking schemes and sexual and physical abuse.

The Government of North Korea does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking and is not making efforts to do so. The Government does not recognize trafficking as a problem and imposes slave-like labor conditions on its prisoners.

There are no reports that the DPRK prosecutes traffickers.

The Government of North Korea makes no effort to protect trafficking victims.

There are no reports of any government anti-trafficking efforts.


The Philippines is a source, transit, and destination country for persons trafficked for the purposes of sexual exploitation and forced labor. There is internal trafficking from rural to urban metropolitan areas. Filipino women who are trafficked for sexual exploitation to destinations throughout Asia, the Middle East, Africa, Europe and North America, are often lured abroad with false promises of legitimate employment. The Philippines is a transit point and destination for victims from the People's Republic of China (PRC). The sexual exploitation of children within the country is also a growing concern. Endemic poverty, a high unemployment rate, a cultural propensity towards migration, a weak rule-of-law environment, and sex tourism all contribute to significant trafficking activity in the Philippines.

The Government of the Philippines does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking; however, it is making significant efforts to do so. The Philippines is placed on Tier 2 Watch List due to the government's failure to provide evidence of increasing efforts to combat severe forms of trafficking, particularly in terms of its weak implementation of the anti-trafficking law and a lack of progress in law enforcement. The government recognizes that trafficking is a problem and has been engaged internationally to combat it. Despite limited resources, the government supports several programs in the areas of prevention and protection. In 2003, the government passed anti-trafficking legislation that protects women and children from sexual exploitation and forced labor. The Philippine government should take immediate corrective action through the prosecution of traffickers, aggressive implementation of the new law, and the arrest and prosecution of officials involved in trafficking.

Anti-trafficking law enforcement efforts in the Philippines remained weak in 2003. The government enacted a comprehensive anti-trafficking law in May 2003 that imposes harsh penalties against traffickers and clients. However, there has been no improvement in the government's enforcement efforts. The government has investigated cases of trafficking-related offenses but prosecuted only three trafficking cases under the new anti-trafficking law. Government sources report two convictions for trafficking-related offenses under other laws, resulting in sentences ranging from time served to life in prison. The paltry number of prosecutions and convictions is a serious shortcoming and available data on prosecutions is also incomplete. Corruption and a weak judiciary remain serious impediments to the effective prosecution of traffickers.

In 2003, the government continued to sponsor adequate protection efforts for trafficking victims. Under the 2003 anti-trafficking law, the government recognizes trafficked persons as victims and does not penalize them. The government provides a range of protective services, including temporary residency status, relief from deportation, shelter, and access to legal, medical, and counseling services. The government in 2003 also devoted anti-trafficking resources to protect overseas Filipino workers. The Philippine government trains law enforcement officials and consular officials in all of its embassies to deal with trafficking victims.

Fourteen government agencies coordinate the government's anti-trafficking efforts, much of which is prevention-oriented. In 2003, the government reported a decline in illegal recruitment and recruitment violations due to an intensified information campaign on overseas employment. Government offices conduct information campaigns on child labor and sexual exploitation for the hotel and tourism industries.

Singapore is a destination country for a limited number of girls and women trafficked for the purposes of sexual exploitation; while small, this number is likely more than 100 cases per year. Some of the women and girls from Indonesia, Thailand, Malaysia, the Philippines, Vietnam, and the People's Republic of China (PRC) who travel to Singapore voluntarily for prostitution or non-sexual work are deceived or coerced into sexual servitude in Singapore. A small minority of foreign domestic workers face seriously abusive labor conditions; in a few such cases, these circumstances may amount to involuntary servitude.
Singapore was not in the 2003 Report but is included this year because of newly available information indicating it has a significant trafficking problem. The Government of Singapore does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking; however, it is making significant efforts to do so. The government acknowledges the existence of the problem of trafficking in persons but does not consider trafficking for sexual exploitation to be a major problem in Singapore. However, the government over the last year identified cases of potential trafficking for sexual exploitation and has taken steps to improve its response to this form of trafficking. The government maintains effective border and immigration controls. Singapore has no national action plan to address trafficking. Prostitution is not illegal and procurement of sex from 16- and 17-year old prostitutes is not criminalized. Authorities generally tolerate prostitution, which largely involves foreign women, a few of whom are trafficked. The government should consider changing its law to enhance penalties against persons who facilitate prostitution by 16- and 17-year olds and enact and publicize laws against customers involved in commercial sex acts with prostitutes of these ages.  

Singaporeans employ an estimated 140,000 foreign domestic workers. A small minority of these workers experience seriously abusive employment conditions; in rare cases, such conditions may amount to involuntary servitude, though documenting such cases is problematic. The Government of Singapore took several positive steps in the last year to address abuses of foreign domestic workers.

Singapore should consider adopting stronger anti-trafficking (for sexual exploitation) laws, and improved victim protection measures. It should also engage more with international and regional bodies involved in anti-trafficking activities. Singapore does not face the resource constraints of its neighbors and therefore has the capacity to increase funding for prevention and protection efforts.
There is no comprehensive law against trafficking in persons but Singapore's criminal code criminalizes some forms of trafficking. Such acts are punishable under laws prohibiting the trafficking of women or girls into the country for purposes of prostitution, unlawful custody or control of children, wrongful confinement, and trafficking of illegal immigrants. Laws against forced or coerced prostitution mostly carry maximum sentences of five years. Procurement of commercial sex from a prostitute16 years or older is not a crime. The government tracks the number of trafficking-related prosecutions, repatriations of foreign women and girls who are suspected sex workers, and complaints from foreign domestics. Authorities reported seven alleged coerced prostitution cases in 2003, resulting in two convictions and sentences of up to 18 months imprisonment. Singaporean police also reported the detection and detention of 21 minors under the age of 18 involved in prostitution during the last year. There is no information on the number of arrests made of violators of national prostitution laws (violations concerning children and other exploitation). The government investigates cases involving allegations of abuse of foreign domestic workers and in 1998 raised the mandatory sentences for employers convicted of physically abusing foreign domestic workers to 1 � times the sentences given to persons convicted of the same abuses against Singaporeans. There is no evidence that government officials are complicit in trafficking.
No NGOs in Singapore focus exclusively on trafficking although several assist foreign workers and seek the enactment of enhanced labor protections. The government does not provide assistance to NGOs, except limited assistance to shelters. Trafficking victims are generally referred to shelters that offer counseling while abused foreign domestics are referred to such shelters or to shelters run by their embassies. Singapore in 2003 created an office in the Ministry of Manpower to promote the welfare of foreign domestic workers and to educate employees and employers on acceptable employment practices.
There is no specific anti-trafficking campaign directed at the use of fraud or coercion to recruit foreign women as prostitutes. The government does not take measures to reduce the demand for sex tourism junkets organized in Singapore to foreign destinations, nor to publicize the problem of sex trafficking in these destinations. The government maintains effective border and immigration controls. Singapore has no national action plan to address trafficking.


Taiwan is a source, transit, and destination point for women and men trafficked for the purposes of sexual exploitation and forced labor. Women from the People's Republic of China (PRC), Thailand, Cambodia, and Vietnam are trafficked to Taiwan for forced prostitution. Some women are lured to Taiwan by fraudulent offers of employment or marriage to a Taiwanese man. Women from Taiwan are trafficked to Japan for forced prostitution. Illegal migrants, mainly from the PRC, transit Taiwan on their way to North America, where some end up in forced labor conditions.

Taiwan authorities fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking. Taiwan recognizes the problem of trafficking in persons and has made concerted efforts to prevent the exploitation of minors and to investigate trafficking cases. The government supports prevention programs, has comprehensive laws that criminalize trafficking, and provides access to protective services for trafficking victims.

Taiwan has a statute that penalizes trafficking in children for sexual exploitation, and it has other statutes that criminalize other trafficking activities. According to official data, there were 195 trafficking-related arrests and 32 convictions under these statutes in 2003. Taiwan is strengthening investigations of trafficking. Taiwan authorities are concerned about the growing number of Vietnamese women lured to Taiwan as brides and then forced into prostitution. Officials have taken steps to address the problem by issuing stricter regulations designed to curb the rate of fraudulent marriages between Taiwanese citizens and foreign spouses.

Taiwan provided strong support for victim protective services in 2003. The authorities cooperated with NGOs to assist trafficking victims. Local centers run by officials and NGOs offer a range of services to adult and child victims, including temporary shelter, medical and counseling services. Foreign victims discovered in Taiwan are not prosecuted and are provided assistance before they are repatriated to their home country. Police and judicial officials receive training on trafficking issues and how to best assist a victim.

Taiwan continues its robust support of NGO trafficking prevention programs. Authorities in Taiwan have provided funding for public awareness programs targeting minors. Taiwan officials have also raised public awareness of the dangers of pornography and the use of the Internet to lure children into the sex trade. Tourism officials in Taiwan collaborate with NGOs, hotels, and travel agents to discourage sex tourism.


Thailand is a source, transit and destination country for persons trafficked for sexual exploitation and forced labor. Thailand is a destination for men, women and children from Burma, Laos, Cambodia, and China who are trafficked for forced or bonded labor and prostitution. Thai women are trafficked to Australia, South Africa, Japan, Bahrain, Taiwan, Europe and North America for sexual exploitation. Internal trafficking also occurs in Thailand, involving victims from Northern Thailand. Additionally, regional economic disparities drive significant illegal migration into Thailand, presenting traffickers opportunities to move victims into labor exploitation. Widespread sex tourism in Thailand encourages trafficking for forced prostitution.

The Government of Thailand does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking; however, it is making significant efforts to do so. Thailand's placement on Tier 2 Watch List is due to the government's failure to provide evidence of increasing efforts to combat severe forms of trafficking in one area: the protection of Cambodian trafficking victims, particularly those exploited in street work. The Thai government needs to take measures to protect trafficking victims in order to demonstrate significant efforts to eliminate severe forms of trafficking. In September 2003, the Thai government declared a national campaign against criminal organizations in Thailand including traffickers of women and children, the first time the issue has been publicly elevated to a national level priority.

The Thai government's law enforcement efforts showed some progress, with a significant increase in prosecutions and more seizures of assets related to trafficking cases. Thailand has a law specifically prohibiting trafficking. However, as in previous years, the law was used sparingly in 2003. Some police and prosecutors seem to be unfamiliar with its provisions and therefore do not use it. In 2003, the government reported 211 trafficking- related arrests, 86 prosecutions, and 20 convictions. Most sentences in trafficking cases were light. However, a number of sentences in trafficking cases were severe, with at least four sentences between 10 and 50 years. The government needs to reduce trafficking-related corruption in the police, immigration services, and judiciary. Only one of eighteen police officers charged in 2003 with facilitating trafficking was prosecuted and convicted, although eleven others are under active investigation. Thailand is not able to adequately control its long land borders and there appears to be an increase in trafficking along the Thai-Malaysian border.

The Thai government continued to provide adequate protection to trafficking victims in 2003, operating 97 shelters throughout the country for abused women and children. However, only four regional centers offer the secure conditions and counseling services needed by trafficking victims. In 2003, Thailand signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with Cambodia and a wider agreement between government agencies and NGOs to help regularize the protection and repatriation of foreign trafficking victims. Foreign victims in Thailand are no longer subject to deportation. However, in an attempt to remove street children from Bangkok in advance of the APEC summit in October of 2003, the Thai government deported 620 Cambodians, some of who were trafficking victims, without any of the protections required by the MOU. An additional 236 Cambodian women and children were deported in March of 2004 without adequate protection. Thai missions overseas have provided support to Thai victims who wish to return home, but limited funding is available to assist their repatriation. Thai police and consular officials have received training on trafficking issues and dealing with victims.

The Thai police in 2004 began an information campaign to increase public awareness of trafficking, which included the distribution of pamphlets and creation of a hotline for reporting suspected cases. The government also supports the work of NGOs and international organizations to carry out public awareness campaigns and provide victim support services.


Vietnam is a source country for persons trafficked for forced labor and sexual exploitation. Vietnamese women and girls are trafficked to Cambodia, the People's Republic of China (PRC), Taiwan, Malaysia, Hong Kong, and Macau for sexual exploitation and forced marriages. Labor export companies recruit and send workers abroad; some of these laborers have been known to suffer trafficking abuses. There is also internal trafficking from rural to urban areas.

The Government of Vietnam does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking; however, it is making significant efforts to do so. Vietnam's placement on Tier 2 Watch List is due to the government's failure to provide evidence of increasing efforts to combat severe forms of trafficking, particularly its inadequate control of two state-controlled labor companies that sent workers to American Samoa from 1999-2001. Additionally, Vietnam's weak labor export regulations are vulnerable to abuse by unscrupulous employers to facilitate the trafficking of Vietnamese workers. Vietnam lacks adequate protection for victims of labor trafficking. The government does not yet have a separate national plan of action to address trafficking, but trafficking in women and children is an explicit component of the 2004-2010 National Plan of Action on Protection for Children in Special Circumstances and is also addressed in the 2000-2005 National Anti-Criminal Plan of Action. The Government has also engaged neighboring governments to combat trafficking in persons. Vietnam has made increasing efforts to prosecute trafficking crimes. It is cooperating with Cambodia and other neighboring countries on the repatriation of victims and other cross-border issues.

Vietnam's anti-trafficking law enforcement efforts in 2003 were uneven. Vietnam has a statute that prohibits sexual exploitation and the trafficking of women and children, with penalties ranging up to twenty years in prison. It does not, however, have a law against other forms of trafficking, including forced labor. The government actively investigates trafficking cases and prosecutes and convicts traffickers. In 2003, the government opened a crime statistics office to track arrests, prosecutions, and convictions. Officials have reported 296 arrests, 224 prosecutions, and 204 convictions specifically related to trafficking in women and children in 2003. Through cross-border cooperation, the Vietnamese and Cambodian governments were able to crack down on several transnational trafficking rings and convict several kingpins. Government corruption impedes law enforcement efforts; in 2003 the government prosecuted three police officers who facilitated labor trafficking.

The Vietnamese government does not provide adequate protection to victims, although in 2003 it improved cooperation with NGOs and international organizations. Vietnam's labor export regulations allow labor companies to largely monitor themselves, creating opportunities for unscrupulous employers to abuse Vietnamese workers abroad. The American Samoa case prosecuted by the U.S. Department of Justice in Hawaii indicates that some Vietnamese police may have facilitated this trafficking by investigating Vietnamese workers labeled as "troublemakers" by the employers. Victims are usually not detained, arrested or otherwise punished, but the government routinely sends women who engage in prostitution within the country to "rehabilitation centers." The centers provide medical treatment, vocational training, and counseling and seek to deter the women's return to prostitution. The government's rehabilitation efforts include "re-education" and limit freedom of movement. Moreover, rehabilitation that takes place at provincial and local levels lacks adequate financial resources.

The Vietnamese government does not implement specific anti-trafficking programs, although the Ministry of Public Security in 2003 did establish a separate office dedicated to trafficking concerns and held a high-level inter-agency meeting on improving performance on trafficking issues, chaired by a Deputy Prime Minister. The government, moreover, cooperated with several international organizations on anti-trafficking studies in 2003 and sponsored public awareness campaigns using television and newspapers.

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