Lao People’s Democratic Republic: Officials Exchange Counter-Human Trafficking Practices


Thalat – Irregular migration is a common challenge faced by Southeast Asian countries, especially the Greater Mekong Sub-region, where legal migration channels can be costly, time-consuming and complicated. As a result, many migrant workers opt for irregular channels and fall victim to debt, exploitation, abuse and human trafficking, often at the hands of employers, brokers or recruiters.

IOM and the Lao Ministry of Labour and Social Welfare (MoLSW) are organizing a two-day workshop for government officials to discuss best practices and challenges encountered when implementing counter trafficking initiatives in the Lao People’s Democratic Republic.

The meeting – attended by 14 officials from ministries engaged in trafficking in persons (TIP) prevention, protection and prosecution – is to discuss national initiatives to combat human trafficking and promote information sharing.

IOM and the Lao government are committed to reducing TIP through close cooperation in the areas of migration management, partnerships and crisis response. 

Deputy Director General of Social Welfare Vongkham Phanthanouvong told participants that his ministry had a long history of partnerships in anti-trafficking, including providing at-risk groups with access to jobs and information. “We will continue to implement anti-human trafficking initiatives and provide assistance – in line with the Lao People’s Democratic Republic policies and the National Action Plan on human trafficking,” he said. “We need to organize more technical meetings like this to coordinate and exchange lessons,” he added.

IOM Programme Officer Zena Van Bemmel-Faulkner underscored the importance of collaboration in responding to human trafficking. “We hope that stakeholders working on anti-trafficking efforts in the Lao People’s Democratic Republic will strengthen the existing collaborative networks. We need to seek further synergies across individual projects and to ensure the complementarity of joint efforts so that we can better address any blind spots in our anti-trafficking response,” she noted.

The workshop was part of a regional IOM programme funded by US State Department’s Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration (PRM). The Migration Assistance and Protection Programme (MAPP) has been implemented across 11 countries in Southeast Asia and Central Asia, including the Lao People’s Democratic Republic, since 2011.

The programme aims to strengthen the capacities and resources of governments to manage complex migration flows in the region, particularly involving migrants in vulnerable and crisis situations, through enhanced structures, policies, processes, safe and legal pathways and effective partnerships at the national, sub-regional and regional levels.

For more information please contact Misato Yuasa at IOM Vientiane, Email:, Tel: + 856 (0) 21 267 734.

  • Lao officials and IOM experts share best practices in combating human trafficking. Photo: IOM.