News Roundup: Anti-slavery news around the Mekong Region, Feb 4 – 17

Your bi-monthly source of slavery-related news from around the Mekong Region and the world.

In and Around the Mekong Region

Seafood firms face big labor shakeup
Bangkok Post, 14 February 2013
Relevant parties in Thailand have worked out Good Labour Practices (GLPs) for the Thai seafood industry. GLPs for workers at fishing ports are expected to be imposed next month and those for fish farms, factories and boats are expected to be imposed officially by June 2013. Medium and large-scale operators are ready to follow the GLPs however small-scale operators have yet to be informed of them, says Praphan Simasanti, an adviser to the Thai Frozen Foods Association.

Ministry hopes for US trafficking list upgrade
Bangkok Post, 9 February 2013
The Thai Labour Ministry has extended the process of nationality verification (NV) of migrant workers in Thailand for three months from 14 December 2012 in hopes that the move will help improve the country’s standing on the US human trafficking watch list. With the NV process illegal migrant workers would become legal workers with access to social welfare benefits, which would help fight human trafficking. Two concerns of labour advocates include: migrant workers might not have the funds to pay for NV; and the 120-day extension might not be enough.

Child labor and children at risk in Laos
CSR Asia, by Richard Welford, 6 February 2013
About 178,000 children in Laos are considered to be engaged in child labour, with two out of every three involved in ‘hazardous work’. The article continues to illustrate the state of forced labour in Laos in depth and, as Laos opens up for more foreign investment, urges responsible business to contribute to development opportunities and economic empowerment.

Shan State tea farmers struggle against imports, loss of workers
The Myanmar Times, by Soe Sandar Oo, 11 February 2013
China’s demand for brides and its dominance in the dried tealeaf market with illegal imports are partly to blame for the reduction in Myanmar’s dried tealeaf job market, traditionally taken up by young Palaung and Shan women. Now many choose instead to marry Chinese men which commonly results in human trafficking or illegal marriage. The Palaung Tea Growers and Sellers Association feel that bettering the quality of their tealeaf production and bringing back the market is the only way to fight human trafficking of young women in the region.

Aquino signs expanded human-trafficking law
Inquirer Global Nation, 14 February 2013
President Aquino of the Philippines has signed the expanded Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act. The Act provides strengthened prosecution of those who engage, or attempt to engage, in human trafficking, as well as protection for human trafficking victims.

Jail One Sex Trafficker, Save Thousands of Girls, Activists Say
The HuffPost Blog, by Barbara Borst, 17 February 2013
An in-depth article on human trafficking in India with details on how organizations such as Apne Aap, Shakti Vahini and the International Justice Mission are leading the fight against human trafficking in Kolkata.

Around the World

Brazilian State Will Close Businesses Caught Using Slave Labor
Free the Slaves Blog, by Hayde Adams Fitzpatrick, 8 February 2013
The Brazilian state of São Paulo has signed a law to shut down companies caught using slave labor. Violators would be banned from opening new business for 10 years. “Brazil is taking some of the most progressive and far reaching steps in the world to remove slavery from product supply chains,” says FTS Executive Director, Maurice Middleberg. “What they are doing is a global model.”

Business must do more to stamp out modern slavery in supply chains
The Australian, by Andrew Forrest, 18 February 2013
Andrew Forrest, chairman of Fortescue Metals Group and founder of Walk Free: The Movement to End Modern Slavery, shares his recent experiences in learning about modern day slavery, discovering high-risk suppliers in the supply chain of Fortescue Metals Group, and working to clean up identified businesses. He delivers a message to all chief executives: “if you don’t look, you won’t find… The issue is not whether someone gets caught with forced labour in their supply chains, it is what they do when they find out.”

Safeway Executive Calls for Industry Effort to Combat Human Trafficking
Supermarket News, by Michael Garry, 15 February 2013
Carl Graziani, SVP of Safeway, urged retailers and CPG manufacturers to begin to map slavery in their global supply chains. “As an industry, we need to think about how we can do this collectively,” he said earlier this month at the Supply Chain Conference, held in Orlando, Fla., by the Food Marketing Institute and the Grocery Manufacturers Association. “Individually, it’s a monumental task.” He suggested an industry initiative to share information, as well as establish a database and standards.

Whole Foods Demands Supply Chain Audits from Coconut Water Companies
Bevnet, by Jeffrey Klineman, 5 February 2013
Whole Foods is the chief retailer of coconut water for many brands, and as demand for coconut water grows, the retailer has given a heads up to its coconut water makers that they need to be certified by agencies that have been pre-qualified by the retailer to conduct social responsibility audits. Currently Indonesia, the Philippines, Thailand, and Vietnam are among some of the source countries for the product.

Listen: Experts Discuss a Strategy for Putting an End to Human Trafficking
Asia Society, by Andrew Billo, 14 February 2013
Asia Society recently hosted a phone briefing on implications and next steps for the private sector in ensuring the eradication of human trafficking for its corporate members. Providing consultation were Samuel Witten and Kristen Ittig, experts from the law firm Arnold and Porter, both of whom recently coauthored a report on human trafficking.

Data startup takes on fight against human trafficking
VentureBeat, by Rebecca Grant, 12 February 2013
Data startup SumAll has established a foundation to collect, visualize, and present data to help nonprofit organizations tackle global issues. Its first initiative is to collect data on human trafficking and the global slave trade. Unique to many businesses that take on social responsibility, this startup has integrated efforts at international development with its day-to-day workflow. “We hope other companies will model themselves after this and it will change the way people think about the corporate world. People care about these issues, but there is a lack of resources allocated to it.” – Korey Lee, VP of analytics.

Underground Trade Series
HuffPost Impact, by Phillip Martin, 7 February 2013
A detailed 3-part series on human trafficking in the backyard of the U.S. East Coast and sex tourism in Asia that highlights the global network of the business of slavery.

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