California is decriminalizing prostitution for minors who are victims of trafficking. Gov. Jerry Brown has signed into law several bills designed to better protect young trafficking victims by preventing disclosure of their personal details, providing victims’ services to trafficking witnesses, and allowing testimony through closed-circuit televisions in court. However, some of the bills were highly controversial, including ones to allow human trafficking victims to vacate prior convictions and seal their records.
Other bills are still pending, including one to repeal mandatory minimum sentences for some prostitution offenses.
Source: Jazmine Ulloa/LA Times
A special report from the FBI on trafficking in Thailand was released in two parts. The first part highlights how Thailand has ramped up efforts to counter trafficking with the assistance of the FBI and other partners, especially in regards to child exploitation, sexual abuse, and trafficking in persons. The second part highlights efforts to provide more and better services to victims, and how Thailand is starting to emulate victim-centered approaches that the FBI has been implementing since 2001.
Thailand has agreed to extradite to Malaysia over 10 suspects charged with involvement in the human trafficking cases involving Rohingya and Bangladeshi nationals found in mass graves along the border of both countries last year. Thus far, warrants have been issued for more than 60 suspects, and 50 of them have been arrested and prosecuted.
Source: The Nation/The Star/Asia News Network
Relatedly, a man charged with the trafficking of Rohingya Muslims from Myanmar, in the high-profile case that brought the mass graves and trafficking camps to light, has been sentenced to 35 years in prison. He was also fined 660,000 baht ($19,000)
Thailand and Malaysia are discussing the possibility of building a wall along the border between the two countries to help reduce trafficking and cross border terrorism. It is believed the wall will help enhance security, though details about the size and details of wall construction–including who will shoulder the costs–remain unclear.
Source: International Business Times
A Northern Thailand police and press conference highlighted recent successes in combatting trafficking in the region, with an announcement that 30 suspects have been arrested thus far this year, with 22 cases involving underage prostitution. Suspects have been caught in Chiang Rai, Chiang Mai, Phayo, and Phrae.
Source: Suwit Rattiwan/Chiang Rai Times
Thai trafficking victims have been discovered in Oman, after a raid involving over 100 Thai and Omani authorities was conducted in Muscat. Twenty-one Thai women had been lured by a Facebook ad offering masseuse jobs paying 100,000 baht a month, but upon arrival in Oman, their documents had been confiscated, their communication was cut off, and they were forced into prostitution. Three Thai woman and two Omani men have been identified as suspects.
Source: Bangkok Post
A new USAID program has announced it will dedicate $12 million in the first year of a 5-year plan to protect and compensate victims of trafficking in South East Asia. Victim services, especially for refugees, is often overlooked and agencies in the area believe that the additional resources can help organizations redirect government attention to this part of the problem.
Source: VOA News
A Yazidi survivor of ISIL/Da’esh’s human trafficking has recently been appointed as a UN Goodwill Ambassador for the Dignity of Survivors of Human Trafficking of the UN Office on Drugs and Crime. Nadia Murad Basee Taha, who is a Nobel Peace Prize nominee, suffered severe abuse at the hands of ISIL in Iraq and the Levant. Thousands of Yazidi, especially women and children, continue to be held captive and the UN is calling for their immediate release.
Source: UN News Centre