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January 12, 2023

In the ASEAN region and around the world, there are victims of human trafficking who are never identified and provided assistance which can aid their recovery and reintegration following their exploitation. Even more, some face punishment for illegal immigration, illegal fishing, sex work, or other offences committed as a result of being trafficked. Men, women, and children are treated as criminal offenders instead of being identified and provided assistance as a victim of trafficking. Most ASEAN member states have policies in place to protect victims and prevent punishment of victims of trafficking, but according to recent research, application of these laws remains a persistent challenge. 

As part of a Thematic Dialogue Series for Practitioners to Better Address the Needs of Victims of Trafficking, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) together with other regional partners is supporting ASEAN efforts to strengthen regional counter-trafficking capabilities, including implementation of the 2015 ASEAN Convention against Trafficking in Persons, especially Women and Children and ASEAN Commission on the Promotion and Protection of the Rights of Women and Children (ACWC) Regional Guidelines and Procedures to Address the Needs of Victims of TIP. 

On December 15, 2022, the ASEAN-USAID PROSPECT project teamed up with the NEXUS Institute, and the  Regional Support Office (RSO) of the Bali Process to convene stakeholders from governmental and non-governmental victim support organizations across the region in a Thematic Dialogue on “Enhancing trafficking victims’ access to services. How to develop a Directory of Services for Trafficking Victims.” Recognizing the importance of designing a services directory guided by the needs and perspectives of victims of trafficking, a new tool for practitioners (available online) walks practitioners

through four steps to develop a Directory of Services from designing an implementation plan, developing content and mapping services, design testing phase, and finally distribution and implementation.  Learn more here.

This builds on the first Thematic Dialogue Series, in collaboration with the ASEAN-Australia Counter-Trafficking (ASEAN-ACT) initiative,  on “Challenges identifying victims of trafficking encountered as offenders” held on August 9, 2022. The discussion reflected the complexities at play regarding non-punishment for victims of trafficking. Victim identification is a critical crossroads in ensuring victims are protected. The USAID-supported dialogue invited a range of perspectives from government agencies and NGOs providing trafficking victims’ protection, social services, and legal assistance. Read more here.

To learn more about ASEAN-USAID PROSPECT project’s partnership: https://nexusinstitute.net/projects/asean-usaid-prospect/

For more information on the ASEAN-USAID PROSPECT project’s Countering Trafficking in Persons work, see factsheet.