Combating Transnational Crime in the Greater Mekong Subregion – The Cases of Laos and Cambodia

in Les Holmes (ed), Trafficking and Human Rights: European and Asia-Pacific Perspectives (Edward Elgar, Cheltenham, UK, 2010) 133-52

Posted: 20 Nov 2013

See all articles by Susan York Kneebone

Susan York Kneebone

University of Melbourne - Law School

Julie Debeljak

Monash University - Faculty of Law

Date Written: November 18, 2007

Abstract

As in other regions of the globe, attention to trafficking issues in the Greater Mekong Sub-region (‘GMS’) began with a gendered focus on women and children and exploitation in the sex industry at the end of the last decade. And as in other regions, legal responses to trafficking issues quickly became framed in a predominantly criminal justice and anti-immigration discourse when countries in the region signed up to the 2000 United Nations Convention against Transnational Organised Crime (‘CTOC framework’) including the Trafficking Protocol, which contains the three ‘Ps’: Prevention, Prosecution and Protection. In this chapter, taking the responses of the Lao People’s Democratic Republic (‘Lao PDR’) and the Kingdom of Cambodia (‘Cambodia’) as case studies of two countries for trafficking within the GMS, we highlight lessons about the strengths and limits of criminal justice and anti-immigration responses to trafficking to this profoundly human problem. Additionally, the comparison of the Lao PDR and Cambodia demonstrates the importance of stable institutions, and of what is loosely known as ‘the rule of law’, for the success of such responses. This has implications for international programs and assistance to such countries.

In this chapter we show that to date the predominant response to trafficking in the Lao PDR and Cambodia has focused upon Prevention and law enforcement measures, including Prosecutions. The third ‘P’, namely Protection, has received the least attention in anti-trafficking measures. This is hardly surprising, given the limited resources available to combat the trafficking problem. But we argue that a victim-centered approach is needed in order to understand the nature of trafficking in the GMS and to fight against exploitation of individuals.

We begin by explaining the patterns of movements that involve trafficking from and within the Lao PDR and Cambodia. We then describe national legal and criminal justice responses, and conclude with an evaluation of such responses in light of the problem we have described.

Keywords: Human Trafficking, Cambodia, Lao PDR, TIP Protocol

JEL Classification: K00

Suggested Citation

Kneebone, Susan York and Debeljak, Julie, Combating Transnational Crime in the Greater Mekong Subregion – The Cases of Laos and Cambodia (November 18, 2007). in Les Holmes (ed), Trafficking and Human Rights: European and Asia-Pacific Perspectives (Edward Elgar, Cheltenham, UK, 2010) 133-52 , Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2356722

Susan York Kneebone

University of Melbourne - Law School ( email )

University Square
185 Pelham Street, Carlton
Victoria, Victoria 3010
Australia

Julie Debeljak (Contact Author)

Monash University - Faculty of Law ( email )

Wellington Road
Clayton, Victoria 3800
Australia

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