Vietnamese Police Break Up Matchmaking Ring

HO CHI MINH CITY, Vietnam – Police stopped an illegal marriage brokering event were many women were being paraded before a group of South Korean men.

The police filed an information report on the spot on 11 people: five prospective husbands,two South Korean brokers, one interpreter, one Vietnamese driver and two Vietnamese organizers of the event.

All 11 people and 161 women, 18 to 26 years of age, mainly from poor Mekong Delta provinces, were in custody at the city’s District 8 police station.

The parade was organized in the early hours of the morning by 34-year-old Phung Bich Thoo of District 1 and 39-year-old Huynh Xuan Phu of District 11, police said, alleging they had rented a house on Cao Lo Street in District 8’s Ward 4 for the purpose.

Police said Thao became a marriage broker early this year and had scored two successes already. She would have received more than $2,000 from each marriage this time.

Since 2006, Phu has arranged marriages between South Korean men and 17 women from the Mekong Delta area. It was he who rented the house this time for $208 and arranged for the women to come, police said.

All five South Korean men are poor farmers and workers and some had borrowed money from the brokers to take part in the event, police said. They are investigating the case further.

South Korean authorities in mid-June launched a crackdown on illegal matchmaking, seeking to reduce a trend that has led to divorces, cases of spousal abuse and suicides.

They also have started a program to help foreign brides settle in South Korea, where 11 percent of marriages were interracial last year — a rate that reached 40 percent among farmers and fishermen, according to a report.

Statistics from South Korea showed that there were more than 10,000 Vietnamese brides in the country last year, up 74 percent from the previous year.

Vietnam sentences three men to death for heroin trafficking

Hanoi – A court in Hanoi sentenced three men to death for trafficking heroin, a criminal court official said Thursday. The court handed down death sentences for Nguyen Van Quy, 42, Du Van Nha, 38, and Tran Van Tu, 53. Two accomplices, Cao Xuan Trung, 42, and Dang Xuan Hai, 48, received life in prison and 20 years respectively, said Dao Vinh Tuong, a deputy judge at the Hanoi People’s Court.

The only woman in the ring, Nguyen Thi Loi, 48, was sentenced to 17 months in prison for hiding the traffickers.

The group was convicted Thursday of smuggling heroin from Laos into Vietnam starting from July 2006.The head of the ring, Nguyen Chien Thang, was arrested in May 2007, but committed suicide one month later while in detention.

“This is the second-biggest trial related to heroin trafficking this year,” said the court’s presiding judge, Ta Phuc Cuong.

According to the indictment, the ring was detected on in November 2006, when Nguyen Van Quy was arrested with 10.4 kilograms of heroin in his luggage while en route from Vientiane to Hanoi.

The anti-narcotics force of Hanoi city followed links from Quy to the other members of the ring, which was found to have trafficked and consumed 40 kilograms of heroin in addition to Quy’s load.

Trafficking or transporting 600 grams or more of heroin is punishable by death in Vietnam. Vietnam has this year sentenced at least 39 people to death, including 18 for drug crimes. This marks a slower rate than last year, when 71 people were sentenced to death.

Vietnam sentences three men to death for heroin trafficking : Asia World

Vietnam police arrest two over baby trafficking to China

12 May 2008

HANOI (AFP) — Police in Vietnam have arrested two women for involvement in baby trafficking into China and rescued a 10-day-old boy, state media said on Monday.

Hoang Thi Hien, 36, and Truong Thi Loat, 42, were detained last Sunday as they tried to cross the border into China with the child, said the police-run Cong An Nhan Dan newspaper.

They told police they received 1,000 yuan (143 dollars) to buy the baby for adoption by a Chinese woman, the paper said, adding the child was taken to a social welfare centre.

The arrests came after police here detained six Vietnamese who tried to take two newborn baby boys across the border into China for adoption last Monday.

Vietnamese police busted a trafficking syndicate in February, which sold babies to China for adoption, reportedly charging about 500 dollars each for girls and 1,000 dollars for boys.

The US embassy in Hanoi last month issued a damning report about widespread baby selling and rampant corruption in Vietnam’s adoption system, which led authorities here to cancel a bilateral adoption agreement.

AFP: Vietnam police arrest two over baby trafficking to China

Vietnam gang ‘smuggled 30 babies’

A baby-trafficking ring in Vietnam sold as many as 30 infants in just six months, smuggling them over the border into China, investigators have found.

Police in Hanoi arrested four suspects in February while they were trying to take two babies out of the country.

Since then, the authorities have detained seven more and the hunt for others connected to the gang continues.

Among those detained was an eight-month pregnant woman who had agreed to sell her unborn baby.

Detectives in the Hoan Kiem district of Hanoi said in a six-month period from July 2007 to February 2008, the ring had smuggled up to 30 babies, mostly newborn, to China.

But the total of smuggled children might be much higher as the gang had been active before that, officials said.

The district police said the scale of the ring’s activities was so large that they had to transfer the case to central police to follow up.

It is believed that the smugglers had been scouring for babies and pregnant women from poor families in rural areas across the country.

They paid between 7m dong ($440; £220) and 20m dong for each baby – boys usually costing more than girls.

The babies were then transferred to Quang Ninh province on China border and offered for adoption.

Vietnamese human trafficking ring goes on trial: Swedish Court
STOCKHOLM (AFP) — A total of 34 people, mostly from Vietnam, went on trial in southern Sweden on Tuesday accused of trafficking people from Vietnam to Sweden, judicial sources said.

The suspects are accused of “having set up a human trafficking ring, fraud … and entering fake marriages,” Jan Waren, a judge at the Halmstad district court told AFP.

Of the 34, 15 are Vietnamese citizens, 18 are Swedes of Vietnamese origin and one is a Swede.

The police investigation, which lasted almost three years, unravelled a vast trafficking ring, the head of the policy inquiry, Marianne Paulsson, said.

She said the smuggling continued for several years, although the investigation only covered the period 2003 to 2007.

Several individuals were paid to travel to Vietnam, marry Vietnamese citizens and then bring them into Sweden, with the partners paying a large fee to be brought into the Scandinavian country.

Others also brought over children they claimed were their own but who were in fact children whose parents had paid large sums of money for them to be brought to Sweden in search of a better life.

Once in the country, the Vietnamese were entirely dependent on their smugglers, to whom they or their parents owed significant amounts of money.

“We have examples of people who worked in restaurants where the conditions more or less resembled slave labour,” Paulsson said. “Young people had to quit school to help their parents repay their debt.”

The accused allegedly earned more than 10 million kronor (1.07 million euros, 1.62 million dollars) from the alleged racket and now risk between six months and six years in prison, Paulsson said.

The court is expected to give its verdict at the end of May.

Police in Vietnam arrest three for smuggling babies

Hanoi – Police in Vietnam have arrested three people accused of smuggling newborn babies, a policeman said Monday. Hoang Duc Hien, 60, Thuan Thi Hoa, 47, and Nguyen Thi Thinh, 42, were arrested Sunday as they were trying to bring three babies across the border to China, according to Hoang Quoc Dinh, director of Hoan Kiem Police Station in Hanoi. Earlier, the three had bought a one-week-old baby from a woman in northern Ha Tay province for 3 million dong (187 dollars) and another baby from a woman in the southern province of Bac Lieu province for 8 million dong (500 dollars), according to the Vietnam News Agency. The newspaper also said that the three were taking with them another baby when they were arrested. “Further investigation is underway and we cannot say anything more about the case now,” said Hoang Quoc Dinh, director of the police station of Hoan Kiem district in Hanoi. “The children smuggling situation in Vietnam is now very complicated,” said Nguyen Dinh Thiet, head of the Children Department under the Ministry of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs. Thiet said most of the smuggled Vietnamese children are taken to China, Cambodia and even to Britain.

Suspects in Child Smuggling from Vietnam to Sweden to be Prosecuted in Sweden

A major child smuggling ring is suspected of bringing dozens of children from Vietnam to Sweden. Between 30 and 40 people suspected of involvement in the smuggling operation are to be indicted on Febuary 4, 2008 according to Tomas Wennerstrand, prosecutor in the south-western town of Halmstad. They are suspected of crimes including people smuggling, fraud and using false documents.

   Wennerstrand said the indictment covered “those who organized the smuggling itself, those who have received payment and those who have submitted false birth certificates for the children and other false papers.”

   Preparations have already begun for the trial, which is expected to last 33 days, starting on March 4th. The court has rented meeting rooms in Halmstad to house the large number of suspects, their lawyers, members of the public and journalists.

   “There will be two judges to enable us to keep the trial going even if one of use should fall ill, for example,” said Elisabeth Karlén, one of the two judges set to hear the case.

   “The court will also have more lay judges than usual – five instead of the usual three,” Karlén said.

   Wennerstrand said that some of the allegedly smuggled children were being cared for by social services after being abandoned or having been exposed to harm in some other way. Others remain with adults who have papers claiming parenthood. These children in most cases have their parents in Vietnam.It is unclear how many children might have been smuggled, prosecutors say.

   “There is a large number of undetected cases, but we have handled around 25 children,” said Wennerstrand.

   Only one of the suspects in the case has been remanded in custody – a women arrested in January on suspicion of contempt of court after she allegedly told other suspects what to say to the police, threatening them with reprisals if they did not do as she said. Charges against the woman will be presented next week.

Human Trafficking a Growing Problem

BEIJING (AP) — Cross-border human trafficking for forced labor and prostitution is a growing problem along China’s southern border, officials said Friday at a conference on the issue.

Greater cooperation among the various countries will be needed to fight the problem and track criminal gangs dealing in humans, officials from China, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam said on the final day of the conference.

China uncovered 2,500 cases of human trafficking last year, and most involved criminal gangs, Chinese Vice Minister of Public Security Zhang Xinfeng said.

Zhang said the number of cross-border cases was still small at about 100. But he added the trend was for that “to grow and we need to further strengthen our cooperation and carry out further joint actions to combat this tendency.”

A lack of reliable data makes it a difficult problem to tackle, and most of the information mainly comes from those who have been arrested and caught.

Representatives from the six countries that first reached agreement on human trafficking in 2004 met in Beijing this week to sign a declaration aimed at ending the problem.

Cambodian Minister for Women’s Affairs, Ing Kantha Phavi, said the problem was not only a matter of criminal prosecution but of prevention. She was the only representative not from a law enforcement body and the only woman at the meeting.

“We need an … approach where all ministries can work together,” she said.

Myanmar’s Minister for Home Affairs, Gen. Maung Oo, said his country had stiff penalties of 10 years in prison to death for human trafficking, but faced problems because of its porous borders.

The Bush administration has said Myanmar is ineligible for U.S. aid for failing to meet minimum standards of fighting human trafficking.

The meeting ended a day after five people were jailed for abducting and trafficking eight boys in southern China’s manufacturing center of Guangdong province.

The official Xinhua News Agency the five enticed boys with snacks. It said they then wanted to sell the boys in Fujian province for a total of $1,800.

News from Taiwan: Victims to get job skills training

Let’s not kid ourselves here, Taiwan’s government has had a very shady record when it comes to dealing with victims of outrageous human rights violation, in this case human trafficking. In response to the International Conference on Globalization and Human Rights of Migrants held at National Taiwan Normal University, Taiwan leading government heads scrambled to get remarks out in regards to the treatment of these trafficking victims. The NIA has also made many promises in the past to address the concerns of the treatment of migrants detained in the various detention centers throughout Taiwan. Nevertheless, such a statement about the future of a victim-centered approach to  trafficking victims is a step forward, if only in baby steps. Let’s hope NGOs, civil societies, and human rights activists hold the Taiwanese government’s feet to the fire. 

From Taipei Times:

HUMAN TRAFFICKING: An Immigration Affairs division director said the training would be implemented in shelters to help victims avoid being abused in the future

By Loa Iok-sin
Saturday, Dec 08, 2007, Page 2

Human trafficking victims awaiting return to their countries of origin may be able to work and learn new job skills in shelters starting as early as next year, a National Immigration Agency (NIA) official said yesterday.

Immigration Affairs Division Director Chien Hui-juan (簡慧娟) made the remarks when answering complaints made by a rights activist during a conference on migrant rights held in Taipei.

Zhang Yu-hua (張育華), executive director of the Taiwan International Family Association told delegates at the conference that neither the immigration authorities nor the legal system treat human trafficking victims as “victims.”

Zhang cited a case she had worked on recently as an example.

“Six Vietnamese women came to Taiwan as migrant workers,” Zhang said. “Although the broker in Vietnam told them they would be preparing food at a lunch box factory, they were sold into the sex industry instead.”

Although they were considered by police and prosecutors as victims, “they were not treated as victims,” Zhang said.

The six women were put into a shelter in March and stayed there until August when they were required as witnesses at a court hearing, Zhang said.

“They could not work during that period. They didn’t know how long they had to wait. For most of the time, they could only stay in the shelter, watching TV, sleeping and eating,” Zhang said. “They felt miserable the whole time.”

Zhang said during this time they were not asked if they wanted to be witnesses in the case, nor were they even told that they were expected to be witnesses, Zhang said.

After the six women were finally allowed to return to Vietnam in August, “an immigration officer asked us to provide evidence to prove they were victims before the NIA would waive their penalties for overstaying their visas,” Zhang said. “It makes me wonder whether they were considered victims or criminal.”

In response, Chien said the agency had started solving some of these problems.

“The Cabinet has approved a three-year project proposed by the NIA, which includes solutions to many of these issues,” Chien said.

One that may become a reality next year, Chien said, is allowing work or job skills lessons to be held in shelters.

“The reasoning behind this is, if these human trafficking victims don’t have any job skills, they may become victims of human trafficking again in the future,” Chien said. “That’s why we believe it may provide a solution to this issue if they can learn some skills while staying in the shelters.”

Chinese police detain two suspects over trafficking Vietnamese babies

NANNING, Nov. 29 (Xinhua) — Chinese police have detained a Vietnamese woman and a Chinese man who allegedly smuggled four babies from Vietnam into China, local police said Thursday.

The woman was caught holding two babies in arms on the China-Vietnam border in Dongxing City of southern Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region Tuesday night, when she illegally entered Chinese territory across a river. The woman seemed not to be the mother judging from her appearance, a spokesman with the Dongxing police said.

Police questioned the 53-year-old woman surnamed Pham from Mong Cai City of northeast Vietnam’s Quang Ninh Province, and she confessed that she had planned to sell the two babies aged below two months to a man surnamed Ruan from south China’s Guangdong Province, the spokesman said.

Pham also confessed that she has smuggled four babies on three separate occasions into China this month.

Ruan was later captured in a makeshift shed in Dongxing, which neighbors Mong Cai.

The two babies are now being attended by the Dongxing Municipa lObstetric and Gynaecology Hospital, the spokesman said.

The case is being further investigated, he added.

Editor: Jiang Yuxia