Cameron tackles Vietnamese child trafficking on first trip

British PM David Cameron (left) poses for a photo with Vietnamese counterpart Nguyen Tan Dung in Hanoi.
British PM David Cameron (left) poses for a photo with Vietnamese counterpart Nguyen Tan Dung in Hanoi.REUTERS

LONDON (THOMSON REUTERS FOUNDATION) - Britain will seek stronger cooperation with Vietnam to crack down on the trafficking of Vietnamese children to the United Kingdom, David Cameron said on Wednesday as he became the first British prime minister to visit the South-east Asian country.

Cameron also said Britain's new anti-slavery commissioner, Kevin Hyland, would lead a fact-finding mission to Vietnam, the home of many of the estimated 13,000 human trafficking victims in Britain.

Cameron's visit coincides with an increase in media reports of Vietnamese children being trafficked to grow cannabis or work in nail bars in recent years.

"It is shocking that thousands of Vietnamese children in the UK are being used for profit by criminal gangs and that dozens more children are estimated to arrive on our shores every month," Cameron said in a statement before leaving London.

"That's why it is so important that we work with Vietnam to identify what more we can do to tackle this issue together."


The US State Department's latest Trafficking in Persons report gives Vietnam a Tier 2 ranking, which indicates the government is not fully complying with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking but is trying to do so.

Cameron also announced that from October, British companies with a turnover of £36 million (S$77 million) or more will have to publish an annual statement setting out measures taken to ensure their supply chains are free of slave labour.

"This measure is one of the first of its kind in the world and it will be a huge step forward, introducing greater accountability in business for the condition of their supply chains," Cameron said.

The new measure, which will cover more than 12,000 companies and is part of the Modern Slavery Act, was welcomed by Core, a British civil society group on corporate accountability.

"The government must now ensure that companies provide the right information in their reports and that those reports are easily accessible," Core director Marilyn Croser said in a statement.