Regional Responses to Human Trafficking in Southeast Asia and Australasia

  • Heli AskolaEmail author
Living reference work entry


This chapter discusses the challenges involved in responding to trafficking in human beings in Southeast Asia and Australasia, focusing on the development and implementation of anti-trafficking responses in these subregions of the Asia-Pacific. This chapter first outlines the diverse migration patterns and the scope of the problem in the Asia-Pacific. It then assesses the effectiveness and comprehensiveness of the measures adopted in Southeast Asian states and in Australia and New Zealand. This chapter examines measures adopted to improve the investigation and prosecution of trafficking, the protection of victims, and the prevention of trafficking. Considering the many challenges involved in cross-jurisdictional cooperation in the region, this chapter gives special attention to partnership and the promotion of regional cooperation, including within the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).


Southeast Asia Australasia Regional cooperation 


  1. Andrevski H, Lyneham S (2014) Experiences of exploitation and human trafficking among a sample of Indonesian migrant domestic workers. Trends & Issues in Crime and Criminal Justice No 471 (Australian Institute of Criminology)Google Scholar
  2. Asis MMB (2008) Human trafficking in East and South-East Asia: searching for structural factors. In: Cameron S, Newman E (eds) Trafficking in humans: social, cultural and political dimensions. UN University Press, Tokyo, p 181–205Google Scholar
  3. Auethavornpipat, R (2017) Addressing the root causes of conflict-driven human trafficking in Southeast Asia, Asia Pacific Bulletin No. 396Google Scholar
  4. Australian Government (2014) National action plan to combat human trafficking and slavery 2015–2020 (Attorney-General’s Department)Google Scholar
  5. Australian Government (2016a) Amplifying our impact: Australia’s international strategy to combat trafficking and slavery 2016 (Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade)Google Scholar
  6. Australian Government (2016b) Trafficking in Persons: The Australian Government Response 1 July 2015–30 June 2016 (Interdepartmental Committee on Human Trafficking and Slavery)Google Scholar
  7. Australian Government (2017a) An Inquiry into human trafficking, slavery and slavery-like practices. Commonwealth of Australia (Parliamentary Joint Committee on Law Enforcement)Google Scholar
  8. Australian Government (2017b) Hidden in Plain Sight. Inquiry into establishing a Modern Slavery Act in Australia (Joint Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade)Google Scholar
  9. Berg L, Farbenblum B (2017) Wage theft in Australia. Findings of the National Temporary Migrant Work SurveyGoogle Scholar
  10. Blackburn AG, Taylor RW, Davis JE (2010) Understanding the complexities of human trafficking and child sexual exploitation: the case of Southeast Asia. Women and Criminal Justice 20(1–2): 105–126CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Bradley C, Szablewska N (2016) Anti-trafficking (ILL-)efforts: the legal regulation of women’s bodies and relationships in Cambodia. Social & Legal Studies 25(4): 461–488CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Burn J, Blay S, Simmon F (2005) Combating human trafficking: Australia’s responses to modern day slavery. Australian Law Journal 79(9): 543–552Google Scholar
  13. Carville O (2016, Sept. 22) Exposed: The dark underbelly of human trafficking in New Zealand. NZ Herald. Retrieved from
  14. Chapman-Schmidt B (2015) Sex in the shadow of the law: regulating sex work and human trafficking in Singapore. Asian Journal of Comparative Law 10: 1–21CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Davy D (2017) Justice for victims of human trafficking in Australia? Issues associated with Australia’s criminal justice response to trafficking in persons. Contemporary Justice Review 20(1):115–131CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. EJF (Environmental Justice Foundation) (2014), Slavery at sea: the continued plight of trafficked migrants in Thailand’s fishing industry. Available via EJF. Accessed 24 May 2018
  17. Emmers R, Greener-Barcham B, Thomas N (2006) Institutional arrangements to counter human trafficking in the Asia Pacific. Contemporary Southeast Asia 28(3): 490–511CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Farrelly N (2012) Exploitation and escape: journeys across the Burma-Thailand frontier. In: Ford M, Lyons L, van Schendel W (eds) Labour migration and human trafficking in Southeast Asia: critical perspectives. Routledge, Abingdon and New York, p 130–148Google Scholar
  19. Gallagher A (2010) The international law of human trafficking. Cambridge University Press, CambridgeGoogle Scholar
  20. Guth AP (2010) Human trafficking in the Philippines: the need for an effective anti-corruption program. Trends in Organized Crime 13(2–3): 147–166CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Harré T (2012) Confronting the challenge of human trafficking for forced labour in the pacific: some thoughts from New Zealand. New Zealand Yearbook of International Law 10:173–187Google Scholar
  22. Hedwards B, Andrevski H, Bricknell S (2017) Labour exploitation in the Australian construction industry: risks and protections for temporary migrant workers (Australian Institute of Criminology Research Report No 2)Google Scholar
  23. ILO (2013) Employment practices and working conditions in Thailand’s fishing sector (Geneva, ILO)Google Scholar
  24. ILO (2017) Access to justice for migrant workers in South-East Asia (Bangkok, ILO)Google Scholar
  25. Larsen, JJ (2010) Migration and people trafficking in southeast Asia, Trends & Issues in Crime and Criminal Justice No 401 (Australian Institute of Criminology)Google Scholar
  26. Keo C, Bouhours T, Broadhurst R, Bouhours B (2014) Human trafficking and moral panic in Cambodia. The ANNALS of the American Academy of Political and Social Science 653(1): 202–224CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Kneebone S and Debeljak J (2012) Transnational crime and human rights: responses to human trafficking in the Greater Mekong Subregion. Routledge, AbingdonGoogle Scholar
  28. Kranrattanasuit N (2014) ASEAN and human trafficking. Brill, LeidenGoogle Scholar
  29. Lyneham S, Richards K (2014) Human trafficking involving marriage and partner migration to Australia. Australian Institute of Criminology Research and Public Policy Series 124Google Scholar
  30. Molland S (2012) The inexorable quest for trafficking hotspots along the Thai-Lao border. In: Ford M, Lyons L, van Schendel W (eds) Labour migration and human trafficking in Southeast Asia: critical perspectives. Routledge, Abingdon and New York, p 57–74Google Scholar
  31. New Zealand Department of Labour (2009) Plan of action to prevent people trafficking. Department of Labour (NZ), WellingtonGoogle Scholar
  32. New Zealand Immigration (2017) People trafficking charges (16 November 2017)
  33. New Zealand Law Society, Modern day slavery and human trafficking (26 September 2014)
  34. Palmer W (2012) Discretion and the trafficking-like practices of the Indonesian state. In: Ford M, Lyons L, van Schendel W (eds) Labour migration and human trafficking in Southeast Asia: critical perspectives. Routledge, Abingdon and New York, p 149–166Google Scholar
  35. Piper N (2005) A problem by a different name? A review of research on trafficking in South-East Asia and Oceania. International Migration 43(1/2): 203–233CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Pocock NS, Kiss L, Oram S, Zimmerman C (2016) Labour trafficking among men and boys in the Greater Mekong Subregion: exploitation, violence, occupational health risks and injuries, PLoS ONE 11(12): 1–21CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Renshaw C (2016) Human trafficking in Southeast Asia: uncovering the dynamics of state commitment and compliance. Michigan Journal of International Law 37(4): 611–659Google Scholar
  38. Sandy L (2012) International politics, anti-trafficking measures and sex work in Cambodia. In: Ford M, Lyons L, van Schendel W (eds) Labour migration and human trafficking in Southeast Asia: critical perspectives. Routledge, Abingdon and New York, p 41–56Google Scholar
  39. Segrave M (2004) Surely something is better than nothing? The Australian response to the trafficking of women into sexual servitude in Australia. Current Issues in Criminal Justice 16: 85–92CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Segrave M (2017) Exploited and illegal: Unlawful migrant workers in Australia. The Border Crossing Observatory and the School of Social Sciences Monash University, Melbourne, VictoriaGoogle Scholar
  41. Schloenhardt A, Jolly J (2013) Trafficking in persons in Australia: myths and realities. LexisNexis Butterworths, Chatswood, NSWGoogle Scholar
  42. Schloenhardt A, Wise M (2014) Counting Shadows: Measuring Trafficking in Persons in Australia. International Journal of Criminology and Sociology 3:249–266CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Schloenhardt A, Astill-Torchia P, Jolly JM (2012) Be careful what you pay for: awareness raising on trafficking in persons. Washington University Global Studies Law Review 11:415–435Google Scholar
  44. Showden CR (2017) From human rights to law and order: the changing relationship between trafficking and prostitution in Aotearoa/New Zealand policy discourse. Women’s Studies Journal 31(1): 5–21Google Scholar
  45. Simon S (2008) ASEAN and multilateralism: the long, bumpy road to community. Contemporary Southeast Asia 30(2): 264–292CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Simmons F, Burn J (2010) Evaluating Australia’s response to all forms of trafficking: Towards rights-centered reform, Australian Law Journal 84: 712–730.Google Scholar
  47. Simmons F, O’Brien B, David F, Beacroft L (2013) Human trafficking and slavery offenders in Australia. Trends & Issues in Crime and Criminal Justice No. 464Google Scholar
  48. Song J (2016) Australia and the anti-trafficking regime in Southeast Asia (Migration and border policy project working paper 1, Lowy Institute)Google Scholar
  49. Stringer C, Whittaker, DH, Simmons G (2016) New Zealand’s turbulent waters: the use of forced labour in the fishing industry Global Networks 16(1): 3–24CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. UNODC (2017) Trafficking in persons from Cambodia, Lao PDR and Myanmar to ThailandGoogle Scholar
  51. UNODC (2016a) Global report on trafficking in persons 2016Google Scholar
  52. UNODC (2016b) Transnational organized crime in the Pacific: a threat assessmentGoogle Scholar
  53. US Department of State (2017) Trafficking in persons report 2017Google Scholar
  54. Wan Ismail WNI, Raja Ariffin RN, Cheong KC (2017) Human trafficking in Malaysia: bureaucratic challenges in policy implementation. Administration & Society 49(2): 212–231CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Wong RJJ (2014) A critique of international and Singapore legal treatments of trafficking in persons. Singapore Journal of Legal Studies 2014: 179–205Google Scholar
  56. Wong RJJ, Juay WT (2015) The Prevention of Human Trafficking Act 2014: legislation comment. Singapore Journal of Legal Studies 2015: 261–272Google Scholar
  57. Yea S (2015) Trafficked enough? Missing bodies, migrant labour exploitation, and the classification of trafficking victims in Singapore. Antipode 47(4): 1080–1100CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  58. Yusran R (2018) The ASEAN convention against trafficking in persons: a preliminary assessment. Asian Journal of International Law 8(1): 258–292CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© The Author(s), under exclusive license to Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Faculty of LawMonash UniversityClaytonAustralia

Personalised recommendations