Thailand remains in Tier 2 for trafficking efforts

Thailand remains in Tier 2 for trafficking efforts

Police check the immigration status of workers in Bang Phli district, Samut Prakan, in January. The United States keeps Thailand in its Tier 2 human trafficking category for the country's effort to identify more victims among other reasons. (Photo by Sutthiwit Chayutworakan)
Police check the immigration status of workers in Bang Phli district, Samut Prakan, in January. The United States keeps Thailand in its Tier 2 human trafficking category for the country's effort to identify more victims among other reasons. (Photo by Sutthiwit Chayutworakan)

Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha is satisfied the United States has kept Thailand in its Tier 2 human trafficking list and vows to work harder to end human trafficking in the country.

The US released the 2019 Trafficking in Persons (TIP) report on Thursday night Bangkok time.

"Keeping Thailand in Tier 2, the US is aware of Thailand's determination and efforts which have made progress in many areas where the government and several sectors collaborate to prevent and suppress all forms of human trafficking," deputy government spokesman Werachon Sukondhapatipak said on Friday.

The prime minister also reassured the new government would continue to improve the situation locally and internationally, he added. 

The government realised that the problem still existed in some areas of the country and he was ready to listen to recommendations from the US and concerned parties in order eliminate human trafficking, the deputy government spokesman said.

The US stated in the report that Thailand identified more victims and punished wrongdoing government officials harder than general offenders and Thai laws imposed severe punishment against prosecution-related human trafficking and forced child labour, Lt Gen Werachon said.

In the annual report, the US urges Thailand to do more to meet standards in several key areas, especially in terms of law enforcement. 

The report praises the country for identifying more victims, sentencing convicted traffickers and complicit officials to significant prison terms, developing several manuals in partnership with civil society to standardise anti-trafficking trainings and policies and the appointment of labour inspectors to identify labour trafficking victims.

However, it says the government did not meet the minimum standards in several key areas.

In terms of the justice system, it cited prosecution and conviction of fewer traffickers and investigation of only 43 cases of labour trafficking during the past year.

The report claims the government also restricted the movement and communication of victims in government shelters.

Official complicity continued to impede anti-trafficking efforts, and officials did not consistently identify cases of trafficking, especially labour trafficking, it says.

To address these shortcomings, the report urges the country to improve law enforcement to proactively prosecute and convict labour traffickers and identify labour-trafficking victims.

It should also proactively investigate and prosecute officials allegedly complicit in facilitating trafficking and convict and punish those found guilty with adequate sentences.

In terms of care, victims of shelters should have adequate care, including legal assistance and psychological care. Victims, especially adults, should be allowed to move freely in and out of shelters and access to communication devices.

It also recommended supporting the development of victim-centric and trauma-informed approaches among judges overseeing trafficking cases.

As well, local civil society organisations should be allowed to participate at migrant worker assistance centers, post-arrival centers, and government shelters. Employers are also urged to provide workers with copies of contracts in a language they understand. 

Thailand had languished in the lowest Tier 3 category in 2014. In 2016, the US upgraded Thailand from Tier 3 to the Tier 2 Watchlist, a category in which countries are adjudged as not fully compliant with the US Trafficking Victims Protection Act. The country was moved to Tier 2 last year.

Being placed in Tier 2 means the government has made significant strides in bringing the country into compliance with higher standards.


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