European and Asia-Pacific Perspectives
Edited by Leslie Holmes
Chapter 8: Combating Transnational Crime in the Greater Mekong Subregion: The Cases of Laos and Cambodia
Susan Kneebone and Julie Debeljak1 As in other regions of the globe, attention to trafficking issues in the Greater Mekong Subregion (‘GMS’) began with a gendered focus on women and children and exploitation in the sex industry at the end of the 1990s. And as in other regions, legal responses to trafficking issues quickly became framed in a predominantly criminal justice and anti-immigration discourse when countries in the region signed up to the 2000 United Nations Convention against Transnational Organised Crime (‘CTOC framework’ – UN 2000c) including the Trafficking (‘Palermo’) Protocol (UN 2000a), which contains the ‘three Ps’: prevention, prosecution and protection. In this chapter, taking the responses of the Lao People’s Democratic Republic (‘Lao PDR’) and the Kingdom of Cambodia (‘Cambodia’) as case studies of two countries for trafficking within the GMS, we highlight lessons about the strengths and limits of criminal justice and anti-immigration responses to trafficking to this profoundly human problem. Additionally, the comparison of the Lao PDR and Cambodia demonstrates the importance of stable institutions, and of what is loosely known as ‘the rule of law’, for the success of such responses. This has implications for international programmes and assistance to such countries. We further show in this chapter that the predominant response to trafficking in the Lao PDR and Cambodia to date has focused upon prevention and law enforcement measures, including prosecutions. The third ‘P’, namely protection, has received the least attention in anti-trafficking measures. This is hardly surprising, given the limited resources available to combat...
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