Dragon Advocates

The Vietnamese Lawyers who risk their lives to rescue child victims of trafficking

Lawyers working in the legal advocacy department of Hanoi based NGO Blue Dragon Children’s Foundation will rarely be found at their desks. Circumstances demand that their practice goes well beyond the usual remit for lawyers, namely advice and court advocacy. They are involved in planning and executing rescue operations, often across the border into China, of child victims of trafficking. These operations are carried out in conjunction with the authorities, including police, on both sides of the border. It is difficult and dangerous work that has helped to free over 800 people to date.

In the mountain regions of Northern Vietnam children from ethnic minority groups are particularly vulnerable to traffickers.

In the mountain regions of Northern Vietnam children from ethnic minority groups are particularly vulnerable to traffickers.

The victims, often girls or young women, are lured into thinking they are travelling with a friend, taken across the nearby border into China and often end up being sold into a forced marriage or a brothel.

The victims, often girls or young women, are lured into thinking they are travelling with a friend, taken across the nearby border into China and often end up being sold into a forced marriage or a brothel.

Back in Hanoi, lawyers from Blue Dragon Children’s Foundation are available 24 hours a day to take phone calls from victims or more usually their relatives asking for help. In a typical case the young woman will have somehow got her hands on a phone and called her mother who will then call the police. The police will then involve Blue Dragon due to their particular expertise in this area. Blue Dragon lawyers will then be in phone contact with the victim, sometimes only for a few minutes in the middle of the night, when she is able to talk.

Back in Hanoi, lawyers from Blue Dragon Children’s Foundation are available 24 hours a day to take phone calls from victims or more usually their relatives asking for help. In a typical case the young woman will have somehow got her hands on a phone and called her mother who will then call the police. The police will then involve Blue Dragon due to their particular expertise in this area. Blue Dragon lawyers will then be in phone contact with the victim, sometimes only for a few minutes in the middle of the night, when she is able to talk.

The lawyers will then begin planning a rescue operation.

The lawyers will then begin planning a rescue operation.

Michael Brosowski, CEO of Blue Dragon emphasises “we don’t confront the traffickers, we don’t do anything violent, we don’t pay the traffickers for the release of the people they have in slavery. What we do is help people escape from where they are and then we run back to the border and do a legal crossing from China back into Vietnam. So we present to the police, we ask for their assistance and what we find is that they are more than willing to facilitate a handover of the young woman or girl . She comes back into Vietnam and we then work with police on both sides of the border to bring the traffickers to justice.”

Michael Brosowski, CEO of Blue Dragon emphasises “we don’t confront the traffickers, we don’t do anything violent, we don’t pay the traffickers for the release of the people they have in slavery. What we do is help people escape from where they are and then we run back to the border and do a legal crossing from China back into Vietnam. So we present to the police, we ask for their assistance and what we find is that they are more than willing to facilitate a handover of the young woman or girl . She comes back into Vietnam and we then work with police on both sides of the border to bring the traffickers to justice.”

Blue Dragon lawyers are as likely to be found travelling over high mountain passes or through jungles as they are at their office or in a courtroom

Blue Dragon lawyers are as likely to be found travelling over high mountain passes or through jungles as they are at their office or in a courtroom

“It’s not just about finding one person”, Michael explains “it’s about making sure the whole system knows about this person and can support her when she’s back and that we are constantly reviewing how did this happen, how can someone be trafficked and therefore how can we stop it from happening again. So the lawyers lead that work and they are uniquely positioned to oversee that whole process, not only the rescue which involves a lot of investigation and analysing information but also right through to looking at laws and policy to review what they say and how they could be improved”

“It’s not just about finding one person”, Michael explains “it’s about making sure the whole system knows about this person and can support her when she’s back and that we are constantly reviewing how did this happen, how can someone be trafficked and therefore how can we stop it from happening again. So the lawyers lead that work and they are uniquely positioned to oversee that whole process, not only the rescue which involves a lot of investigation and analysing information but also right through to looking at laws and policy to review what they say and how they could be improved”

Following a successful rescue, Blue Dragon runs a sophisticated programme of support services to help victims recover and reunite with their families.

Following a successful rescue, Blue Dragon runs a sophisticated programme of support services to help victims recover and reunite with their families.


On the Streets of Hanoi

Every night a team from Blue Dragon Children’s Foundation goes out onto the streets of Hanoi to rescue street children. The children are offered food, emergency shelter and longer term support services. Eventually they will be reunited with their families.

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