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Burma to host ASEAN talks on transnational crime

June 23, 2009 (DVB), Burma's jungle capital of Naypyidaw has been chosen to host this year's ASEAN meeting on transnational crime, with Chinese, EU and UN delegates lined up to attend, according to Burma's Weekly Eleven journal.

Senior officials of the Association of the Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) had originally earmarked late June for ninth annual meeting, although Weekly Eleven now say it will take place from 1 to 3 July.

Two of the topics likely to be discussed will be human trafficking and Asia's illicit drug's trade, both of which are a sensitive issues in Burma.

A report released by the US state department earlier this month said that human trafficking within Burma's remains "significant", despite Burma in April signing a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Thailand aimed at stemming the flow of trafficking between the two countries.

This is in addition to Burma being party to the UN Convention Against Transnational Organized Crime and the UN Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, especially Women and Children.

The US report also labelled Burma as "a destination country for child sex tourism" and stated that Burma has not "adequately addressed" trafficking for commercial sexual exploitation and labour exploitation within the country.

Similarly, Burma is listed by the CIA as being the world's second largest producer of opium, behind Afghanistan.

Government-allied armed groups, particular the United Wa State Army, are seen to be key players in the industry.

In May last year Burma's representative Deputy Chief of Myanmar Police Force, General Zaw Win, attended the ASEAN Chiefs of Police joint communiqué held in Brunei Darussalam, where countries discussed measures to tackle issues such as human and drug trafficking.

Many Burmese women and children are trafficked to neighbouring countries such as Thailand, China and Malaysia, often for forced marriage arrangements.

Within Burma, trafficking of girls for the purpose of prostitution "persisted as a major problem", said the US report.

Reporting by Rosalie Smith


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