Authorities are preparing to set up a special inter-agency body to strengthen investigations of human trafficking cases, the latest attempt to help address US concerns over the problem.
The new unit will bring together police as well as officials trained in social issues, anti-graft and anti-money laundering to boost the government's efforts in tackling slavery, which were criticised by the US State Department last June as inadequate in its annual Trafficking in Persons report, known as TIP.
In that report, the US downgraded Thailand from Tier 2 to Tier 3, the lowest level in the TIP ranking, which gauges how well countries solve the problem.
The plan for the unit was unveiled by Justice Minister Paiboon Koomchaya yesterday, as Thailand is waiting for the US to announce the next TIP report, which is due to be released early this month.
The special unit is part of a set of measures against human trafficking approved at a recent meeting of Justice Ministry agencies. He said it would "answer all doubts" over the government's anti-human trafficking actions.
The body is made up of the Royal Thai Police Office, the Department of Special Investigation, and the Social Development and Human Security Ministry, Gen Paiboon said. Their work will be supported by the National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC), the Public Sector Anti-Corruption Commission (PACC) and the Anti-Money Laundering Office (Amlo).
The support of the NACC and PACC are necessary because, in some cases, human trafficker suspects are state officials. Amlo will help the investigation by inspecting and seizing suspects' assets, Gen Paiboon said.
The cases to be investigated will be forwarded directly to the Criminal Court's human trafficking division, which was set up recently to speed up the proceedings, he said.
The government is also working on a database of trafficking cases. The Social Development and Human Security Ministry's efforts in developing the database are about 70% complete, Gen Paiboon said.