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Open Dialogue: How does the political economy of countries in Southeast Asia make migrants vulnerable to human trafficking?

Disclaimer: This is a recording of an Open Dialogue convened by the ASEAN-Australian Counter Trafficking program (ASEAN-ACT) and the Overseas Development Institute (ODI), held at the Foreign Correspondents Club Thailand on 11 December 2023. The Open Dialogue was funded by the Australian Government through ASEAN-ACT. The views expressed at this Open Dialogue are not necessarily the views of the Australian Government. Please contact info@aseanact.org for any further enquires. 

The Open Dialogue explored the structural factors underpinning labour exploitation – including economic, cultural, social, historic – which are key to addressing human trafficking in Southeast Asia.

ODI research, in partnership with ASEAN-ACT, takes a political economy lens to examine the power dynamics, interests and incentives, and importance of the ‘informal rules’ governing labour migration in the region.

Four new studies were released and discussed at the Open Dialogue, focussed on:

  • Trafficking for forced criminality: the rise of exploitation in scam centres in Southeast Asia
  • Debt, exploitation and trafficking of labour migrants
  • Addressing labour exploitation and human trafficking as ‘sticky’ problems: the role of Southeast Asia’s political economy
  • Cambodia country analysis

The researchers highlighted how different approaches and partnerships should be considered to counter the exploitation that ultimately can amount to human trafficking.

The studies can be downloaded here: https://www.aseanact.org/resources/apea-briefs/