Police officials from across Asia meeting in Australia have decided to
form unprecedented joint operations to combat the trafficking of sex
slaves. Law enforcement experts say the trade in young women is far
more organized than first thought.
Law enforcement officials from Australia, China, Indonesia other Asian nations have agreed to intensify their efforts to combat human trafficking.
Experts say many of the victims of human trafficking are sex slaves. Security officials meeting in Sydney agreed to launch new joint investigations to tackle this insidious trade.
Australian federal police commander Ramzi Jabbour believes organized criminal gangs are responsible for a large amount of trafficking.
He says he hopes the new spirit of regional cooperation will make a difference.
"By bringing together all the intelligence into a central point, we're able to potentially identify organizers or facilitators that are common amongst a variety of trafficking victims," said Jabbour.
"If we were working in isolation; the Malays working on their own, the Thais working on their own; they may never actually see the fact that one or two organizers are actually behind these criminal syndicates," he added.
Australian police officers have been posted throughout Asia and will increasingly work as liaisons with their regional neighbors.
There is no reliable information about the number of people trafficked into Australia each year, although various estimates put the figure at around 1,000.
Australian authorities have launched more than 270 investigations into alleged human trafficking since 2004, and the vast majority of cases - about 90 percent - have been about sexual slavery.
Human rights activists say many victims are duped or coerced into traveling to Australia to work as domestic servants, farm laborers, or other menial jobs.
Many are effectively held hostage because of the huge debts they often owe to criminal gangs.