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Six GMS countries sign joint declaration, reaffirming anti-human trafficking commitment

PHNOM PENH, April 30 (Xinhua) -- Ministerial representatives from the six Greater Mekong Sub-region (GMS) countries of Cambodia, China, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam on Thursday signed a joint declaration, reiterating their joint commitment to ending all forms of human trafficking in the region.

The joint declaration was signed as part of the 4th Inter- Ministerial Meeting of the Coordinated Mekong Ministerial Initiative against Trafficking (COMMIT). "The joint declaration aims to achieve the goal of eradicating any situation where human beings are traded, bought, sold, abducted, forced into marriage, and placed and maintained in exploitative situations that deprive them of their most fundamental and inalienable human rights," said a news statement released after the meeting.

Cambodian Women's Affairs Minister Ing Kantha Phavi said the joint declaration reaffirmed the spirit of solidarity, unity and strong commitment by governments of the six countries to continue strengthening the COMMIT Process in order to combat trafficking in persons in the region. "The declaration will become a firm foundation to move forward a new and more effective form of intervention in each country and in the region to combat trafficking in persons," she said.

At the meeting, Wang Jian, assistant minister of the Chinese Ministry of Public Security, reiterated China's strong commitment to fighting against all forms of human trafficking. "We will actively carry on practical law enforcement collaboration such as joint-action, case investigation, arrest and repatriation of criminal suspects, and rescue and relief for victims," he said.

He said China will share its experiences in fighting against human trafficking to help the region improve its law enforcement capacity.

Prior to the adoption of the joint declaration, senior officials from the six GMS countries met to review achievements of the COMMIT process over the last decade, and officially endorsed a regional action plan 2015-2018 that charts the course of cooperation on counter-trafficking over the next four years.

With millions of victims of human trafficking, the Greater Mekong Sub-region is home to some of the most severe forms of exploitation in the region, according to the news statement.

There are many victims of forced labor in the fishing and seafood industries, as well as in the manufacturing, agriculture and construction sectors, it said, adding that many other victims, mostly women and girls, are exploited in the sex industry, domestic servitude or forced to marry, while many children are forced into begging.

"All these men, women, boys and girls are deprived of their basic human dignities, including the chance to live a decent life without violence or earn a fair wage," the statement said.

The Phnom Penh meetings were presided over by Cambodian Deputy Prime Minister and Interior Minister Sar Kheng. About 500 participants attended, including ministers, senior officials from the GMS, ASEAN, international organizations, United Nations agencies, donors, civil society, youth groups, private sector, and other entities involved in the regional response to human trafficking.

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