As reported for the last five years, human traffickers exploit domestic and foreign victims in Vietnam, and traffickers exploit victims from Vietnam abroad. Vietnamese men and women migrate abroad for work informally or through state-owned or state-regulated labor recruitment enterprises. Some recruitment companies are unresponsive to workers’ requests for assistance in situations of exploitation, and some charge excessive fees that trap workers in debt bondage. Traffickers subject victims to forced labor in construction, fishing, agriculture, mining, maritime industries, logging, and manufacturing, primarily in Taiwan, Malaysia, Republic of Korea, Laos, Japan, and to a lesser extent, some parts of Europe and the UK (including in nail salons and on cannabis farms). There are increasing reports of Vietnamese labor trafficking victims in continental Europe, the Middle East, and in Pacific maritime industries. Large-scale Vietnamese and Chinese infrastructure investment projects in neighboring countries, such as Laos, may exploit Vietnamese and foreign workers. Traffickers exploit Vietnamese women and children in sex trafficking abroad; many victims are misled by fraudulent employment opportunities and sold to brothel operators on the borders of China, Cambodia, Laos, and elsewhere in Asia. Some Vietnamese women who travel abroad for internationally brokered marriages or jobs in restaurants, massage parlors, and karaoke bars—including to China, Japan, South Korea, Malaysia, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, and Taiwan—are subjected to forced labor in domestic service or sex trafficking. Traffickers increasingly use the internet, gaming sites, and particularly social media to lure victims, proliferate trafficking operations, and control victims by restricting their social media access, impersonating them, and spreading disinformation online. Men often entice young women and girls with online dating relationships, persuade them to move abroad, then subject them to forced labor or sex trafficking. Some traffickers pose as police officers on social media networks to gain victims’ trust. During the migration process, European gangs and traffickers often exploit Vietnamese victims in forced labor and sex trafficking before they reach their final destination.
Within the country, traffickers are sometimes parents, family members, or small-scale networks exploiting Vietnamese men, women, and children—including street children and children with disabilities—in forced labor, although little information is available on these cases. One study suggests 5.6 percent of children in Vietnam may experience coercion or exploitation indicative of trafficking or in the context of migration, with children from rural and deprived communities particularly at risk. Traffickers exploit children and adults in forced labor in the garment sector, where workers are coerced to work through threats and intimidation. There were reports of children as young as six producing garments under conditions of forced labor in small privately owned garment factories and informal workshops, and that children as young as 12 worked while confined in government-run rehabilitation centers. Traffickers force children into street hawking and begging in major urban centers. Traffickers subject some children to forced or bonded labor in brick factories, urban family homes, and privately run rural gold mines. Sex traffickers target many children from impoverished rural areas and a rising number of women from middle class and urban settings. Traffickers increasingly exploit girls from ethnic minority communities in the northwest highlands, including in sex trafficking and forced labor in domestic service, by channeling their criminal activities through the traditional practice of bride kidnapping. Child sex tourists, reportedly from elsewhere in Asia, the UK and other countries in Europe, Australia, Canada, and the United States exploit children in Vietnam. The North Korean government may have forced North Koreans to work in Vietnam.
In 2019, the government reported it had ceased the practice of subjecting drug users to forced labor in its 105 rehabilitation centers. A 2014 legal provision requires a judicial proceeding before detention of drug users in compulsory drug rehabilitation centers and restricts detainees’ maximum workday to four hours. There were prior reports that prisoners, including political and religious dissidents, had been forced to work in agriculture, manufacturing, and hazardous industries, such as cashew processing.
Complicit Vietnamese officials, primarily at commune and village levels, allegedly facilitate trafficking or exploit victims by accepting bribes from traffickers, overlooking trafficking indicators and extorting money in exchange for reuniting victims with their families.