Govt aims to improve on Tier 2 ranking
Anti-trafficking fight 'will be unrelenting'
The police chief has vowed to intensify a crackdown on those blacklisted for being involved in human trafficking in a bid to help the country secure an improved ranking in the US State Department's Trafficking in Persons (TIP) Report following Thailand's latest upgrade.
Thailand was upgraded from Tier 3, the lowest ranking, to the Tier 2 Watch List in the TIP Report released in Washington DC on Thursday.
According to a statement released by the US embassy in Bangkok, the Tier 2 Watch List indicates that the Thai government made significant efforts to eliminate trafficking during the rating period, but still does not fully meet the minimum standards for doing so.
The 2016 TIP Report covers governments' anti-trafficking efforts from April 1, 2015 through March 31, 2016.
Despite the upgrade, national police chief Chakthip Chaijinda said he will not let up in enforcing the laws against those involved in human trafficking, deputy spokesman Krissana Pattanacharoen said yesterday.
The police chief has ordered agencies concerned to spare no effort in arresting those on the blacklist of human traffickers, regardless of whether they remain in the country or are hiding abroad.
Apart from anti-trafficking laws, laws on prostitution, immigration and anti-money laundering will be used to boost efforts to fight human trafficking, Pol Col Krissana said.
Officers have also been instructed to expand their investigations into operators in the fisheries industry and other businesses which may be implicated in human trafficking and forced labour, he said.
Pol Col Krissana said Pol Gen Chathip also warned police officers not to become involved in human trafficking themselves, and not to turn a blind eye to the crime.
"The police chief has ordered police officers nationwide to make serious efforts to address the problem so Thailand can move from the Tier 2 Watch List to a better ranking. Police must demonstrate their determination in solving human trafficking problems," Pol Col Krissana said.
Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha on Friday brushed aside the comment in the TIP report that Thailand "still does not fully meet the minimum standards". The prime minister said Thailand has now moved to the Tier 2 Watch List, and the government will continue to work as hard as it can to improve the country's human trafficking record.
Deputy Prime Minister Prawit Wongsuwon, who oversees efforts to tackle human trafficking, thanked all those involved, including the private sector, for their hard work that resulted in the upgrade.
Foreign Minister Don Pramudwinai said those who break anti-human trafficking laws will be dealt with severely. "The government will have no mercy for any law breaker, including government officials," Mr Don said at a press conference held at the ministry.
He insisted the country will not tolerate any form of modern slavery and will make more efforts to deal with the problem.
He said, "modern slavery will no longer exist in this country. Even though human trafficking problems remain substantial, Thailand will remain focused and committed to addressing human trafficking in all forms".
According to Mr Don, the authorities have begun to arrest the "big fish" involved in human trafficking networks and will seek their prosecution.
"The arrest of major players has increased by 10% from last year," he said.
The foreign minister also pledged to strengthen cooperation with concerned stakeholders, both domestically and internationally in order to more effectively deal with trafficking cases. "Partnership is among our so-called "5P's" approach to eradicate human trafficking so, we will further expand our cooperation with all sectors," he said.