08/17/2018, 15.15
MYANMAR
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Human trafficking: Myanmar among worst offenders, US says

by Lawrence Jangma Gam

Listed as a Tier-3 country, Myanmar can be denied aid. Washington accuses the Asian nation of hindering UN measures to fight human trafficking. According to the US State Department, Burmese officials are involved in prostitution and exploitation of people. Child soldiers remain a major issue.

Yangon (AsiaNews) – Myanmar is among the countries that most contribute to the exploitation and trafficking in human beings, this according to a report by the US State Department.

The US accuses Myanmar of using child soldiers and violating the human rights of Rohingya Muslims. It also says that some Myanmar officials are involved in prostitution.

The US State Department released its 18th annual report on Trafficking in Persons Report, which looks at 187 countries and territories and ranks them into four tiers, with Tier 1 being the best and Tier 3 the worst.

Tier 1 countries meet US minimum standards. Tier 2 have made significant efforts to do so. Tier 2 Watch List includes nations deserving special scrutiny. Tier 3 countries do not fully comply with the minimum standards and have not made any commitment to do so. Countries on the last ranking can face sanctions, including restrictions on US and international aid.

The US has accused Myanmar of interfering with the fight against human trafficking by not allowing the United Nations to enter into child demobilisation agreements with ethnic armed groups (EAGs).

The State Department claims that Burmese women, especially from ethnic minorities, "are increasingly transported to China and subjected to sex trafficking and domestic servitude through forced marriages to Chinese men".

On the positive side, the report also states that compared with the previous years, this year Myanmar is raising awareness and taking more actions against human trafficking and child soldier recruitment.

Although complaints have increased in recent years because of greater awareness, child soldiers remain a major problem in Myanmar. A 2002 report by Human Rights Watch (HRW) estimated that at least 70,000 minors (under 18) had been recruited.

In 2012, Myanmar signed an Action Plan with the UN to end the exploitation of children by its Armed Forces. Since then, the latter has taken steps to cut recruitment and has released about 850 from its ranks.

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