US asked to take Thailand off watch list

The Foreign Ministry expects the United States to remove Thailand from the human trafficking watch list after receiving a report on Thailand's progress in dealing with the matter.

Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Surapong Tovichakchaikul yesterday submitted the report to US Ambassador to Bangkok Kristie Kenney yesterday.

She will forward the report to US Secretary of State John Kerry to consider.

Mr Surapong said he told Ambassador Kenney that the Thai government had assigned importance to this issue and would soon set up a working group, to be chaired by Deputy Prime Minister Chalerm Yubamlung, to suppress human trafficking and child labour practices.

"I would like the US to know our intention is to solve this problem and would like the US to upgrade Thailand's status to a better ranking," Mr Surapong told Ms Kenny.

The minister said he did not think Thailand will be ranked at the same level this year.

Thailand has been placed on the tier2 watch list in the US Department of State's Trafficking in Persons (TIPs) report for three years.

Washington will reassess the situation in June.

Thailand will keep sending updated information to the US, Mr Surapong said.

Malaysia, Thailand and Myanmar are the three Asean countries which were on the tier 2 watch list last year.

Mr Surapong last month led a group of Thailand-based ambassadors to Samut Sakhon province to get first-hand information on the progress of eradicating human trafficking and child labour in Thailand, especially in the seafood processing industry.

Mr Surapong said he will invite Mr Kerry to visit Thailand this year to attend the fifth Thailand-US Strategic Partnership Dialogue meeting, while Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra expects to visit the US later this year.

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Writer: Thanida Tansubhapol
Position: Reporter