A high-level meeting to examine progress made on the UN Global Action Plan on Human Trafficking was held at the UN headquarters in New York on May 13 and 14. Ambassador Le Hoai Trung, Permanent Representative of the Vietnamese delegation at the UN, delivered a speech at the meeting.

Following is the full text of his speech.

Mr. President,
Vietnam attaches great importance to this important High-level Meeting about an issue of immense international dimension that has an impact upon nations and the well-being and dignity of the human-being.

We appreciate the UN Secretary-General, President of the General Assembly, United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) and other partners for all their hard work in preparing for this Meeting.

Mr. President,
Information available to us presents a highly troubling situation. There are more than 30 million victims in 137 countries trafficked around the world and the amount of money flowing from human trafficking may very well be second only to illegal drug and arms trafficking. Due to its hidden and illegal nature, the gathering of statistics on the scale of the problem is difficult. The consequences on the world, countries, communities and people, including women and children are certainly much broader and deeper. While we can note the progress from our efforts, the challenges are enormous, complex and multifaceted.

In that context, the Global Plan of Action to Combat Trafficking in Persons, adopted by UN member states in 2010, is a crucial milestone. It raises the awareness and enhances the understanding of human trafficking, and serves as an important tool to coordinate international efforts in combating this issue.

Combating human trafficking is a consistent policy and a priority of the Government of Vietnam along a comprehensive approach. Our experiences show that the root social-economic causes must always be dealt with in parallel with the crime-fighting efforts. Crime prevention and victim assistance must be essential components.

The strong political commitment of Vietnam to address the problem of human trafficking is reflected in a large number of important laws, policies, programs and plans of action in many areas, which are conformable to the four main pillars of the Global Plan of Action, namely prevention, protection, prosecution and partnership. Most recently, the National Assembly of Vietnam adopted the Law on Prevention and Fighting against Human Trafficking in 2011. The Law, among other things, expands the definition on human trafficking and provides for the different measures and obligations of the State, organisations and individuals.

The Government's National Action Plan against Trafficking in Person for the period 2011-2015 is aimed at protecting all Vietnamese citizens and foreigners living in Vietnam from human trafficking and deals with events in Vietnam and across the Vietnamese border in cooperation with other countries and international organisations. The Plan is consisted of five major projects on information and awareness-raising campaigns, capacity building for multidisciplinary teams, victim protection and assistance, strengthening legal system and monitoring the implementation of laws and policies, and strengthening international cooperation in combating human trafficking.

According to UNDOC, Vietnam has one of the highest conviction rates for traffickers in the world. In 2012 alone, authorities arrested 719 traffickers, prosecuted 453 and convicted 400 traffickers with sentences ranging from 3 to 20 years of imprisonment.

Currently, in implementing the Law against Human Trafficking, the People’s Supreme Procuracy, in cooperation with relevant ministries and government agencies, is drafting an inter-ministerial circular to detail guidance on crimes related to human trafficking and raise the penalties for these crimes.

The mass media plays a significant role in mobilizing public support and exposing the crimes.

Vietnam has ratified the UN Convention on Transnational Organised Crime and its Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Human Trafficking, and strictly complies with its obligations under these conventions. Vietnam has bilateral agreements and undertaken cooperative activities with all neighboring and regional countries to prevent and fight human trafficking.

In this regard, we commend UNODC Vietnam for its contribution to the signing of a number of memorandums of understanding on cooperation to fight human trafficking, labor and mutual legal assistance in the region.

Vietnam also actively participates in many regional and international initiatives and processes on migration in general, and on the prevention of illegal migration and human trafficking in particular, such as the Asia-Pacific Intergovernmental Consultation Process on Refugees, Displaced Persons and Migrants, Asia – EU Dialogue on Labor Migration, the Coordinated Mekong Ministerial Initiative against Trafficking (COMMIT), the ASEAN Inter-Parliamentary Organisation Forum on Legal Cooperation to Combat Human Trafficking.

The Government and other Vietnamese organisations have worked effectively with UNODC and many other international governmental or non-governmental organisations, including the International Organisation for Migration, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugee, Asia Foundation and World Vision.

Experience also shows the abuse or politicization by any organisation or individuals for their selfish interests of issues related to human trafficking hinders cooperation, thus in effect hampering the fight against human trafficking.

Human trafficking is deeply rooted in vulnerability to poverty, gender inequality and violence against women, lack of opportunities and employment, lack of access to education and discrimination. In that context, the Government has put in place many various measures to address economic and social inequalities through the adoption of national action plans, strategies and projects in many areas of the social and economic life.

Other measures at local level include income generating groups, vocational training, job placement and capital acquisition.
Vietnam would like to reiterate its commitment to the fight against human trafficking and looks forward to the continued cooperation with the international community to this end.

Vietnam recognises the leading role of UNODC in implementing the Global Plan of Action and in coordinating international efforts to combat human trafficking. We hope that this Meeting will significantly add to the common efforts to fight human trafficking.

I thank you for your kind attention.-VNA