As reported for the last five years, human traffickers exploit domestic and foreign victims in Vietnam and traffickers exploit victims from Vietnam abroad. Vietnamese men and women migrate abroad for work independently or through state-owned, private, or joint-stock labor recruitment companies. Some recruitment companies are unresponsive to workers’ requests for assistance in situations of exploitation, and some charge excessive fees that trap workers in debt bondage. Traffickers subject victims to forced labor in construction, fishing, agriculture, mining, logging, and manufacturing, primarily in Angola, Japan, Laos, Malaysia, Republic of Korea, Taiwan, and the United Arab Emirates; there are increasing reports of Vietnamese labor trafficking victims in the United Kingdom and Ireland (including on cannabis farms), continental Europe, the Middle East, and in Pacific maritime industries. Large-scale Vietnamese infrastructure investment projects in neighboring countries such as Laos may exploit Vietnamese and foreign workers. Traffickers exploit Vietnamese women and children in sex trafficking abroad; many are misled by fraudulent employment opportunities and sold to brothel operators on the borders of China, Cambodia, and Laos, and elsewhere in Asia, including Malaysia, Republic of Korea, Singapore, Taiwan, and Thailand. Some Vietnamese women who travel abroad for internationally brokered marriages or jobs in restaurants, massage parlors, and karaoke bars—including to China, Cyprus, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, and Taiwan—are subjected to domestic servitude or sex trafficking. Traffickers increasingly use the internet, gaming sites, and particularly social media to lure potential victims into vulnerable situations; men often entice young women and girls with online dating relationships and persuade them to move abroad, then subject them to forced labor or sex trafficking. Some traffickers pose as police officers on social media networks to gain victims’ trust. During the migration process European gangs and traffickers often exploit Vietnamese victims in forced labor and sexual exploitation before they reach their final destination.
Within the country, traffickers exploit Vietnamese men, women, and children—including street children and children with disabilities—in forced labor, although little information is available on these cases. Traffickers exploit children and adults in forced labor in the garment sector, where workers are coerced to work through threats and intimidation. There were reports of children as young as six producing garments under conditions of forced labor in small privately owned garment factories and informal workshops, and that children as young as 12 worked while confined in government-run rehabilitation centers. Traffickers force children into street hawking and begging in major urban centers. Traffickers subject some children to forced or bonded labor in brick factories, urban family homes, and privately run rural gold mines. Sex traffickers target many children from impoverished rural areas, and a rising number of women from middle class and urban settings. Traffickers increasingly exploit girls from ethnic minority communities in the northwest highlands, including in sex trafficking and domestic servitude, by channeling their criminal activities through the traditional practice of bride kidnapping. Child sex tourists, reportedly from elsewhere in Asia, the United Kingdom and other countries in Europe, Australia, Canada, and the United States, exploit children in Vietnam. North Korean restaurants operating in Vietnam may exploit North Korean workers in forced labor.
Although the government reports it no longer subjects drug users to forced labor in rehabilitation centers, international organizations and media report authorities continue the practice. A 2014 legal provision requires a judicial proceeding before detention of drug users in compulsory drug rehabilitation centers and restricts detainees’ maximum workday to four hours. In August 2018, there were reports that 200 individuals who escaped a government-run drug treatment center claimed authorities forced them to work eight hours a day without compensation and subjected them to punishment, including beating, if they “misbehaved.” Vietnamese law allows for obligatory manual labor for prisoners, which allows forced labor to be used as a means of punishment for political and religious dissidents. Prisoners reportedly work in agriculture and manufacturing, and there have been reports of prisoners of conscience working in hazardous industries such as cashew processing. Complicit Vietnamese officials, primarily at commune and village levels, facilitate trafficking or exploit victims by accepting bribes from traffickers, overlooking trafficking indicators, and extorting money in exchange for reuniting victims with their families.