Human trafficking is a serious concern to the US Department of State (DOS). The body is especially worried about its prevalence in certain regions of the world and its ties to illegal gambling.
In its 2023 Trafficking in Persons Report, the DOS noted that special economic zones and border towns are very susceptible to the issue. The department noted that Cambodia, Burma and Macau, for example, are all countries where governments do not fully follow the standards outlined in the Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA), making them extra dangerous.
Traffickers in countries such as Burma, Cambodia, Laos, Malaysia, the Philippines, Ghana and Türkiye listed fake jobs to recruit people from dozens of countries, the DOS noted.
According to the DOS, the COVID-19 pandemic exacerbated the issue as traffickers took advantage of the uncertain economic situation to trick many unemployed people. As a result, casino and shell companies took advantage of the minimal law enforcement in “jurisdictionally complex geographic areas” to breed illicit activity.
Climate change is also considered to be a factor affecting the human trafficking rates.
Scammers Exploit Job Seekers
The DOS is also concerned about crime syndicates based in China. Such organizations would often pose as labor brokers to trick people from East Africa and Asia. Their victims are often people who understand English and have a background in technology.
Crime syndicates would promise lucrative jobs to their targets. However, once the victims arrive, they would be transported to the so-called scam factories in countries such as Burma, Cambodia, Laos, Malaysia and the Philippines. Once there, trafficked humans would have their passports taken and would be subjected to forced labor and violence.
According to the DOS, millions of people fall victim to such scams every year. These include adults, young people and even children.
Countries Are Taking Action
Luckily, there is hope on the horizon as nations are becoming more and more aware of the problem. Some of the problematic countries are now mustering resources to crack down on scam factories and free the trafficked humans from the exploitation they’ve been subjected to.
Taiwan and Laos are among the countries to take this matter seriously. Last year, the former of the two led an operation to free many trafficked Taiwanese from exploitative circumstances. A year earlier, Laos joined forces with other authorities to begin investigating the issue.
Cambodia, which is still a favored location for many crime syndicates, is also taking action against illegal gambling and human trafficking. Thanks to its efforts, the country managed to exit the FATF grey list in February.
In addition to appealing for increased awareness of the problem, the DOS added that partnerships and technology have the potential to make a change in the war on forced labor.