Prawit goes to war with traffickers
Deputy Prime Minister Prawit Wongsuwon has ordered authorities to ramp up their efforts in stamping out human trafficking after Thailand was downgraded to the Tier 2 Watchlist in the 2021 Trafficking in Persons (TIP) annual report.
Gen Kongcheep Tantravanich, spokesman for the deputy prime minister, said Gen Prawit found several aspects of anti-human trafficking operations inefficient, inadequate and unacceptable.
Among them were the alleged involvement of state officials, police and military officers in human trafficking and the use of forced labour in several industries, said the spokesman.
Authorities have also failed to separate and identify trafficking victims from traffickers especially in the fishing sector, which hinders the government's efforts in tackling the problem, he said.
The spokesman said Gen Prawit has instructed intelligence officials to improve information gathering and find connections which trafficking networks have forged with corrupt officials and submit a weekly report.
The Interior Ministry and the Labour Ministry were also told to work closely with police and military officers in combating smuggling rings and make sure that traffickers and corrupt officials are prosecuted, he said.
Gen Prawit stressed that disciplinary and criminal investigations must be taken against state officials found involved or negligent while the anti-money laundering law would also be strictly enforced, according to Gen Kongcheep.
He also urged business operators to comply with inspections and asked the Ministry of Social Development and Human Security to provide assistance and protection for human trafficking victims.
In the 2021 TIP report issued by the US in July, Thailand was downgraded from Tier 2 to Tier 2 Watchlist for the first time in four years.
According to the report, less effort had been demonstrated in combating human trafficking, with forced migrant labour being among Washington's main concerns.