News / Asia

US Calls for Burma Military to Account for Human Trafficking

Ron Corben

The U.S. ambassador for human trafficking, Luis CdeBaca, is calling for Burmese military officers to be held accountable for any involvement in human trafficking or the recruitment of child soldiers.  Human rights advocates say an end to impunity by Burma’s military’s involvement with human trafficking is seen as a key test for the new civilian government.

After the end of an official visit to Burma, U.S. Ambassador for human trafficking Luis CdeBaca says he remains optimistic the civilian government will move to reduce forced labor and child soldier recruitment. But CdeBaca, who travelled to Burma with U.S. special envoy and policy coordinator for Burma Derek Mitchell, said senior military officers need to be held accountable for human-rights abuses such as forced labor.

“One of the things as well is the issue of accountability for the military officers, both the ones who use civilians for forced labor but also the ones who are engaged in recruitment child soldiers," said CdeBaca. "There have been a number of prosecutions for recruitment for recruitment of child soldiers but it’s all the low level guys.”

A 2011 Human Rights Watch report said over several decades the Burmese Army forced civilians to risk their lives in “barbaric conditions” in operations against rebel armed groups.  It said military officers and soldiers faced charges of “committing atrocities with impunity.”

The report accused the Burmese military of colluding with Corrections Department officials to use an estimated 700 prisoners from 12 prisons to act as army porters during fighting in southern Karen State.  The porters risk death from landmines.

The report added ethnic-rebel groups also face accusations of the indiscriminate use of landmines, the use of civilians as forced labor and recruitment of child soldiers.

The annual U.S. global report on human trafficking cited Burma for failing to comply with minimum standards or to make serious efforts to curb human trafficking.

CdeBaca said Burmese officials acknowledged the problems, which he said is “encouraging.”

He said Burmese steps to address human trafficking issues should also include the cooperation of neighboring countries, such as Malaysia and Thailand.

“I would like to see both legal and policy statements that end this practice of state sponsored labor," said CdeBaca. "That would be a very positive step forward.  A more robust victim identification (program) where we see more victims being helped both here in Burma but also through the offices of the Burmese diplomats in Malaysia and Thailand.”

Spokeswoman Debbie Stothard, of the rights group the Alternative ASEAN Network, says the international community will need to maintain pressure on the Burmese government to move ahead with reforms.

“So when we look at the situation of trafficking of people and exploitation of children we have to really address the problem of impunity, we have to address the problem of mass forced displacement as a result of military attacks and harmful development projects,” she said.

Burma is seeking to improve international relations in a bid to see economic and political sanctions eased to open the way for foreign investment and economic development.  But the international community says further reforms are needed, including the release of all  political prisoners.    

You May Like

Video On The Scene: In Ethiopia, 'Are You a Journalist?' Is a Loaded Question

VOA's Anita Powell describes the difficulties faced by reporters in fully conveying the story in a country where people are reticent to share their true opinions More

Nigerians Await New President With High Hopes

When pomp and circumstance of inauguration end in Abuja, Buhari will sit down to the hard task of governing Nigeria More

India's Restrictions on Several NGOs Raise Concerns

Political analysts link recent clampdown on advocacy groups to report last year that said foreign-funded NGO’s negatively impact economic development More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Expelled from Pakistan, Afghan Refugees Return to Increased Hardshipi
X
Ayesha Tanzeem
May 28, 2015 6:48 PM
Undocumented refugees returning to Afghanistan from Pakistan have no jobs, no support system, and no home return to, and international aid agencies say they and the government are overwhelmed and under-resourced. Ayesha Tanzeem has more from Kabul.
Video

Video Expelled from Pakistan, Afghan Refugees Return to Increased Hardship

Undocumented refugees returning to Afghanistan from Pakistan have no jobs, no support system, and no home return to, and international aid agencies say they and the government are overwhelmed and under-resourced. Ayesha Tanzeem has more from Kabul.
Video

Video Britain Makes Controversial Move to Crack Down on Extremism

Britain is moving to tighten controls on extremist rhetoric, even when it does not incite violence or hatred -- a move that some are concerned might unduly restrict basic freedoms. It is an issue many countries are grappling with as extremist groups gain power in the Middle East, fueled in part by donations and fighters from the West. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video Floodwaters Recede in Houston, but Rain Continues

Many parts of Texas are recovering from one of the worst natural disasters to hit the southwestern state. Heavy rains on Monday and early Tuesday caused rivers to swell in eastern and central Texas, washing away homes and killing at least 13 people. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Houston, floodwaters are receding slowly in the country's fourth-largest city, and there likely is to be more rain in the coming days.
Video

Video 3D Printer Makes Replica of Iconic Sports Car

Cars with parts made by 3D printers are already on the road, but engineers are still learning about this new technology. While testing the possibility of printing an entire car, researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy recently created an electric-powered replica of an iconic sports roadster. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Al-Shabab Recruitment Drive Still on In Kenya

The al-Shabab militants that have long battled for control of Somalia also have recruited thousands of young people in Kenya, leaving many families disconsolate. Mohammed Yusuf recently visited the Kenyan town of Isiolo, and met with relatives of those recruited, as well as a many who have helped with the recruiting.
Video

Video US Voters Seek Answers From Presidential Candidates on IS Gains

The growth of the Islamic State militant group in Iraq and Syria comes as the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign kicks off in the Midwest state of Iowa.   As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, voters want to know how the candidates would handle recent militant gains in the Middle East.
Video

Video A Small Oasis on Kabul's Outskirts Provides Relief From Security Tensions

When people in Kabul want to get away from the city and relax, many choose Qargha Lake, a small resort on the outskirts of Kabul. Ayesha Tanzeem visited and talked with people about the precious oasis.
Video

Video Film Festival Looks at Indigenous Peoples, Culture Conflict

A recent Los Angeles film festival highlighted the plight of people caught between two cultures. Mike O'Sullivan has more on the the Garifuna International Film Festival, a Los Angeles forum created by a woman from Central America who wants the world to know more about her culture.
Video

Video Kenyans Lament Losing Sons to al-Shabab

There is agony, fear and lost hope in the Kenyan town of Isiolo, a key target of a new al-Shabab recruitment drive. VOA's Mohammed Yusuf visits Isiolo to speak with families and at least one man who says he was a recruiter.
Video

Video Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thought

Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Kenya’s Capital Sees Rise in Shisha Parlors

In Kenya, the smoking of shisha, a type of flavored tobacco, is the latest craze. Patrons are flocking to shisha parlors to smoke and socialize. But the practice can be addictive and harmful, though many dabblers may not realize the dangers, according to a new review. Lenny Ruvaga has more on the story for VOA from Nairobi, Kenya.
Video

Video Iowa Family's Sacrifice Shaped US Military Service for Generations

Few places in America have experienced war like Waterloo. This small town in the Midwest state of Iowa became famous during World War II not for what it accomplished, but what it lost. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the legacy of one family’s sacrifice is still a reminder today of the real cost of war for all families on the homefront.

VOA Blogs