YOUNG PEOPLE TO GOVERNMENTS: INCLUDE US IN THE FIGHT AGAINST HUMAN TRAFFICKING

07 MAY 2015

Twenty-eight young people from six countries in the Greater Mekong Sub-region (GMS) joined the Regional COMMIT Youth Forum in Phnom Penh from 27-30 April where they presented recommendations to their governments on how to best support youth-led community activities for human trafficking prevention.

“Young people know what their peers are listening to, what they are watching, who influences them and how they like to get information. The Regional COMMIT Youth Forum gave these young people a platform to use this knowledge to engage their governments,” said Lindsey Higgs, IOM X Public Sector Officer. “By working together, we are finding solutions for those who are most affected by this issue – the young people themselves.”

The youth participants, who were between the ages of 15 and 25, delivered the following recommendations to their governments:

  • Invite young people selected by their peers to join the COMMIT Task Forces;
  • Make funding available to young people to implement trafficking prevention activities in their communities and provide approval and mechanisms for government to participate and provide input; and
  • Help young people acquire safe migration skills and trafficking awareness by making learning about migration and human trafficking part of the mainstream school curriculum, using available toolkits such as World Vision's Smart Navigator toolkit and empowering young people as trainers.

The recommendations were well received as were the creative examples of educational tools for human trafficking prevention that youth created and displayed, including a game developed by the Thai youth, where choosing safe migration actions, such as memorizing a hotline number, allows the players to advance while risky migration behaviour, like giving up your passport, causes setbacks.

“Human trafficking is a very relevant issue for these young people. They have witnessed or experienced it within their communities and they are best placed to develop recommendations for the government to maximise the positive impact that young people can have in the fight against human trafficking,” said Warankana Mutumol, Child Protection Specialist, Save the Children.

The COMMIT Youth Forum, formerly known as the Mekong Youth Forum (MYF), was established in 2004 as an initiative of a coalition of children’s rights and counter-trafficking organisations. The transition of the Mekong Youth Forum to the COMMIT Youth Forum reflects the increasing integration of youth participation in national and regional counter-trafficking efforts. 

“The process of the CYF starts at the national level, where each country in the Greater Mekong Sub-region organises a national youth forum in which children and young people actively involved in anti-trafficking work discuss the challenges of their own countries and develop recommendations for their respective government. The national forum is also a platform for the children and youth to select their representatives to participate in the Regional COMMIT Youth forum,” said Stefan Stoyanov, World Vision’s End Trafficking in Persons Policy Project Manager.

The Youth Forum took place in conjunction with the Coordinated Mekong Ministerial Initiative Against Trafficking (COMMIT) Senior Officials Meeting (SOM) and Inter-Ministerial Meeting (IMM), where the fourth Sub-Regional Plan of Action (SPA-IV) was approved. SPA-IV includes support for the COMMIT Youth Forum and collaboration with community stakeholders across the six COMMIT countries – Cambodia, China, Lao P.D.R., Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam.

“As the representative from the Thai Government, I admire the youth for their recommendations and ideas. The recommendations from youth are innocent and powerful. We will use and implement the output and products by these youths to convey messages on the issue of human trafficking for the benefits of our communities and the child target groups. I hope that the other COMMIT Youth Member countries will support the children’s work and encourage them to allow children to have a voice. We see the future of our countries and communities in the hands of these youths,” said the chairperson of the youth engagement session, Ms. Saowanee Khommapat, Deputy Director-General of the Department of Social Development and Welfare, Thailand's Ministry of Social Development and Human Security.

“I learned many things from this forum. I learned more about human trafficking and safe migration. I hope the government will support more money to organize more activities to prevent trafficking in communities. This forum also has taught me to work in a team and be confident when presenting our work,” Nguyen Van Doan, 15, speaks about his experience at the Regional COMMIT Youth Forum.

The Regional COMMIT Youth Forum was endorsed by the six COMMIT governments and organized and supported by child rights and counter-trafficking organizations and bodies – IOM X, Save the Children, Terre des Hommes Netherlands, UN-ACT and World Vision. 

Quotes
"Young people know what their peers are listening to, what they are watching, who influences them and how they like to get information. The Regional COMMIT Youth Forum gave these young people a platform to use this knowledge to engage their governments." Lindsey Higgs, IOM X Public Sector Officer
"As the representative from the Thai Government, I admire the youth for their recommendations and ideas. The recommendations from youth are innocent and powerful. We will use and implement the output and products by these youths to convey messages on the issue of human trafficking for the benefits of our communities and the child target groups. I hope that the other COMMIT Youth Member countries will support the children’s work and encourage them to allow children to have a voice. We see the future of our countries and communities in the hands of these youth." Khun Saowanee Khommapat, Deputy Director-General of the Department of Social Development and Welfare, Thailand's Ministry of Social Development and Human Security
"I learned many things from this forum. I learned more about human trafficking and safe migration. I hope the government will support more money to organise more activities to prevent trafficking in communities. This forum also has taught me to work in a team and be confident when presenting our work." Nguyen Van Doan, 15, Regional COMMIT Youth Forum attendee
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About IOM X

IOM X is the International Organization for Migration’s (IOM) innovative campaign to encourage safe migration and public action to stop exploitation and human trafficking.

The campaign leverages the power and popularity of media and technology to inspire young people and their communities to act against human trafficking. IOM X moves beyond raising awareness to effecting behaviour change by applying a Communication for Development (C4D), evidenced-based and participatory framework to tailor messaging for its activities.

The campaign is produced in partnership with the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).

Learn more at IOMX.org

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