Human trafficking a 'regional issue'

Human trafficking a 'regional issue'

Govt officials defend law enforcement track record

Thailand has urged United States officials not to target individual countries in its annual Trafficking in Persons (TIP) Report, noting that Washington should regard the problem as a regional issue.

Pol Lt Gen Surachate Hakparn, assistant chief of the national police, yesterday said a Thai delegation led by Chettaphan Maksamphan, director-general of the Department of American and South Pacific Affairs, met with US Department of State officials in Washington from May 15-18, ahead of the planned release of the 2022 TIP report next month.

He said that during the meeting, Thai delegates asked US officials to consider human trafficking as a regional issue as the problem involves many countries. They also noted that Thailand was not an origin or destination country for human trafficking as mentioned in the previous TIP report, he said.

Pol Lt Gen Surachate, who is in charge of combating human trafficking operations, said the issue should not be blamed on one specific country.

"Thailand is only a transit point, and the Thai government has made a serious effort in stamping out human trafficking," he said.

During the meeting, the Thai delegation also reportedly updated US officials on efforts to tackle human trafficking, including the prosecution of trafficking suspects and the provision of assistance to victims.

Pol Lt Gen Surachate said Thailand saw a sharp rise in human trafficking cases between October last year and this month, with 193 trafficking cases and 200 cases involving the sexual abuse of children. Assets linked to trafficking worth 142 million baht were confiscated during the period, he noted.

Pol Lt Gen Surachate said US authorities in response expressed satisfaction with Thailand's suppression of human trafficking, specifically the rescue of 200 people duped to work illegally in neighbouring Cambodia.

US officials also made several recommendations, including establishing closer collaboration between agencies concerned in providing assistance to trafficking victims, being more strict in the enforcement of laws and stepping up crackdowns against state officials complicit in human trafficking, he said.

He said the US also asked Thailand to submit documents on six topics, including the number of rescued victims and its details.

Thailand was demoted to the Tier 2 Watch List from Tier 2 in last year's TIP report. The government hopes it will be upgraded this year for addressing problems mentioned in last year's report.

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