‘Insufficient action’ by Thailand on slavery may block improved US ranking


Myanmar migrant workers employed on fishing boats unload fish in Phuket, southern Thailand, June 13, 2009. Photo: Barbara Walton/EPA

Myanmar migrant workers employed on fishing boats unload fish in Phuket, southern Thailand, June 13, 2009. Photo: Barbara Walton/EPA

In a new briefing, the Environmental Justice Foundation strongly recommends that Thailand remains on Tier 3 in the US government’s 2015 Trafficking in Persons Report to send a clear signal to Bangkok that further progress and substantive efforts are required to ensure removal from the Tier 3 ranking which places it alongside countries such as North Korea and Iran.

Thailand has been heavily criticized for its treatment of migrant workers – largely from Myanmar, Cambodia and Laos – employed or sold into their fishing industry, either to work on fishing vessels or in factories.

In the briefing issued on February 17 entitled, “Broken Promises: Why Thailand should stay on Tier 3 in the 2015 Trafficking in Persons Report,” the foundation says the country has failed to address the unregulated industry of labour brokers, which perpetuates trafficking and abuse in the fishing sector, and has made insubstantial progress in identifying victims of trafficking, forced and bonded labour aboard fishing vessels.

The report says the Thai government has failed to enforce existing laws and regulations in an unbiased and rigorous manner and has failed to end extensive corruption and the involvement of state officials in human trafficking. In addition, there has been no adoption of a victim-centred approach to protecting those who have escaped or been rescued from modern-day slavery.

The US Department of State’s 2015 Trafficking in Persons Report is expected in June 2015.

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