Lao Woman’s Ordeal Highlights Growing Trafficking Problem as Workers Seek Better Jobs in Thailand

The trafficking of Lao nationals to neighboring Thailand as undocumented laborers continues to be a growing problem with brokers arranging for thousands to be taken across the border for job opportunities that too often end up in situations where Laotians are abused by their employers.

The phenomenon prompted the U.S. State Department this year to downgrade Laos to Tier 3 status on its annual “Trafficking in Persons” report, which ranks 188 countries as Tier 1, Tier 2, Tier 2 Watch List, or Tier 3, based on whether they meet the minimum standards to combat trafficking set by U.S. law.

The Lao government has not fully met the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking and has not showed overall greater efforts to do so. Authorities continued to prosecute and sentence a modest number of traffickers, provide job assistance to some returned victims, and conduct awareness-raising activities in Lao communities at high risk of forced labor for large-scale infrastructure projects, the report acknowledged.

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