United Nations Service Building,
1st Floor, Rajdamnern Nok Ave.,
Myanmar Human Trafficking Situation
Myanmar is a source country for men, women and children trafficked for the purposes of labour exploitation, sexual exploitation and forced marriage. Myanmar people are trafficked to Thailand, China, Malaysia, South Korea and Macau for sexual exploitation, domestic servitude and labour exploitation; some Myanmar migrants end up in situations of forced or bonded labour, or forced prostitution. Myanmar children are particularly vulnerable to domestic trafficking, as well as being trafficked into Thailand as forced street beggars, or to work in shops, agriculture and small-scale industries. Myanmar is also a transit country for trafficking of Bangladeshis to Malaysia and Chinese to Thailand.
In Myanmar, trafficking takes place within the context of large-scale migration, both internal and cross-border migration. Research suggests that as many as one-third of Myanmar’s population have migrated between urban and rural areas within their lifetime, with Thailand being the main destination country for transnational migration.
Cross-Border patterns of Human Trafficking
Border crossings: From Kengtung and Tachileik to Mae Sai, Thailand; from Myawaddy to Mae Sot, Thailand; and from Kawthaung to Ranong, Thailand, and sometimes from these points through to Malaysia. Women from Kachin State and Northern Shan States are also trafficked to Yunnan Province, China, via Ruili and other border provinces.
Internal routes to border crossings: The central dry zone areas (Mandalay, Sagaing and Magway) are source areas for people trafficked to Mae Sot in Thailand, via Kawkreik and Myawaddy. Another route is from Yangon and the surrounding areas to Mae Sot via Hpa-an and then Myawaddy.
Exploitation: For Malaysia and Thailand, women and men are trafficked for labour exploitation; women are also trafficked for sexual exploitation and domestic work. Children are trafficked into forced labour as street hawkers and beggars. The main areas of destination in Thailand are Bangkok, Samut Sakhon, Mae Sai and Mae Sot. Women trafficked to China, often minors, are taken to border towns in Yunnan Province and as far as Eastern China, where they are often forced to marry Chinese men or forced into the sex industry.
Internal patterns of Human Trafficking
Internal trafficking of women and girls occurs primarily from villages in the central dry zone areas and Delta (Ayeyarwaddy Division) to urban centres. Other transportation and economic hubs, such as truck stops, fishing villages, border towns and mining areas also common destination sites.
The main destinations for internal trafficking are Yangon and Mandalay, which are also transit points for cross-border trafficking. Women are often trafficked into sexual and labour exploitation; children are most commonly trafficked into forced labour in shops, agriculture and small-scale industries.
What is the scale of Human Trafficking in Myanmar?
There are no reliable estimates on the number of persons trafficked annually, although a total of 134 trafficking cases were investigated in 2008 involving 303 victims (153 female and 50 male), and 342 traffickers prosecuted. Of these, 15 were cases of domestic trafficking, and there are likely to be additional cases in remote areas. Due to the clandestine nature of the crime, identified cases likely represent only a small fraction of the scale of the problem.
Non-government Anti-trafficking Actors in Myanmar
UN and inter-governmental agencies and projects
UNICEF, IOM, ILO, UNODC , UNDP and UNIAP
INGOs and other
Save the Children Myanmar, World Vision Myanmar, Association Francois Xavier Bagnoud (AFXB), Asia Regional Trafficking in Persons Project (ARTIP) and MTV EXIT
Myanmar Women’s Affairs Federation, Myanmar Council of Churches, Myanmar Baptist Convention, Kayin Baptist Convention, YMCA, YWCA, Yatana Mahal and community-based groups
COMMIT Structure in Myanmar
The COMMIT Process is the umbrella of all anti-human trafficking programs, and through COMMIT the country’s anti-trafficking efforts have increasingly become institutionalised.
COMMIT has created an enabling environment for anti-trafficking programming politically, particularly for civil society groups, which did not exist before the COMMIT Process. Community field level collabouration with the government has been increased, and it provides a platform and political space where community voices can be heard and national level actors have access to high-level government officials working on trafficking in persons through COMMIT Task Force meetings.
Regional COMMIT Task Force meetings and workshops have allowed senior officials to exchange experiences and lessons learned about each country’s anti-trafficking experience, as well as how to replicate successful strategies and programmes in Myanmar. Following the signing of the 2004 COMMIT Memorandum of Understanding (MoU), there has been an increased level of cooperation with Thailand and China by having bilateral MoUs, Standard Operating Procedures, meetings and joint operations. The COMMIT Process has been a fundamental aspect of these successes, and provides a crucial platform for cross-border coordination, cooperation and the sharing of information on human trafficking.
Myanmar COMMIT Milestones
- COMMIT Memorandum of Understanding on Cooperation against Trafficking in Persons in the Greater Mekong Sub-region signed
- Anti-Trafficking in Persons Law enacted
- First government-to-government repatriation was conducted and formal engagement began with Thailand. Before this, the Thai government had to coordinated with UNIAP, World Vision Myanmar and Save the Children for Repatriation
- A national institution called the Central Body for Suppression of Trafficking in Persons (CBTIP) and different level bodies were formed at the State/Regional, Divisional and Township levels
- Three Working Groups also formed under CBTIP: 1) Working Group on Prevention of Trafficking in Persons and Protection of Trafficking Victims; 2) Working Group on Legal Framework and Prosecution measures; and 3) Working Group on Repatriation, Reintegration and Rehabilitation of Trafficked Victims
- 5-year National Plan of Action to Combat Human Trafficking (2007-2011) developed
- Strengthened comprehensive anti-trafficking efforts by implementing Annual Work Plans that mirrors COMMIT Sub-regional Plan of Action
- Better in-country coordination and cooperation mechanisms developed through regular COMMIT Task Force meetings 3-4 times a year, National Task Force meeting chaired by Chief of Police, Secretary of CBTIP once a year and CBTIP meeting chaired by Union Minister of Home Affairs once a year. All implementing partners, UN, IOs and NGOs participate at those meetings
- 1st Human Trafficking Border Liaison Office established in Muse-Rulli
- 26 Anti-Trafficking Task Forces in key hotspot townships across Myanmar created
- Bilateral cooperation with Thailand on Repatriation issues
- Bilateral Case Management Meetings on Repatriation and Reintegration 2-3 times a year, with regular case worker visits to Thai shelters
- 2nd Human Trafficking Border Liaison Office established in Loije-Zheng Feng
- Bilateral Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed with Thailand
Myanmar Police Force and Thai Department of Special Investigation engagement
- Myanmar Police Force and Thai Anti-Human Trafficking Division engagement
- Bilateral MoU signed with China, followed by bilateral meetings in 2012 and 2013 Ratified ASEAN Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matter Treaty
- 1st MoU Plan of Action developed and implemented with Thailand
- Human Trafficking Database established
- Internal assessment of forced marriage into China conducted
- Campaign targeting transport sectors and communities conducted (trafficking to China for forced marriage)
- Anti-Trafficking Hotlines and Websites established
- Over 18, 000 Community Watch Groups formed across country
- Establishment of Border Cooperation Mechanism against Trafficking at Tachileik/MaeSai and Kawthaung/Ranong
- 2nd 5-year National Plan of Action developed (2012-2016)
- Issued National Guidelines on Return, Repatriation and (Re)integration of Trafficking Victims
- Joint Action Plan to Combat Human Trafficking signed with the Unites States
- Signing of Bilateral Standard Operating Procedures on Repatriation and (Re)integration of Myanmar Trafficking Victims returning from Thailand
- Establishment of Anti-trafficking in Persons Division
COMMIT Ministerial Representatives for Myanmar
The Central Body for Suppression of Trafficking in Persons (CBTIP), a multi-sectoral body chaired by Ministry of Home Affairs, is comprised of 17 concerned ministries and 2 NGOs. The Anti-Trafficking in Persons Division of Myanmar Police Force has specialist anti-trafficking police officials deployed at Anti-Trafficking Task Forces covering 17 States and Regions of Myanmar.
The Ministry of Home Affairs, as the focal ministry of anti-trafficking in persons is responsible for oversight of COMMIT implementation. Members of the COMMIT Task Force are drawn from the following ministries and organisations:
- Ministry of Home Affairs
- Myanmar Police Force, Ministry of Home Affairs
- Anti-Trafficking in Persons Division, Myanmar Police Force, Ministry of Home Affairs
- Department against Transnational Crime, Myanmar Police Force, Ministry of Home Affairs
- General Administration Department, Ministry of Home Affairs
- Ministry of Foreign Affairs
- Ministry of Social Welfare, Relief and Resettlement
- Union Supreme Court
- Union Attorney General’s Office
- Ministry of Labour, Employment and Social Security
- Ministry of Hotel and Tourism
- Ministry of Border Affairs
- Ministry of Information
- Ministry of Education
- Ministry Immigration and Population
- Myanmar Women’s Affairs Federation
- Myanmar Maternal and Child Welfare Association