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Thailand : Tier 3 - Trafficking in Persons (TIP) Report

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  • Thailand : Tier 3 - Trafficking in Persons (TIP) Report

    U.S. human trafficking report drops four nations to lowest tier
    Leif Coorlim
    June 20, 2014

    • U.S. State Department issues annual Trafficking in Persons Report
    • In Thailand, migrants are being exploited in the commercial sex industry, report says
    • Report: Venezuelan women and girls are often lured into prostitution with false job offers
    • In Malaysia, it says, migrants from other Asian countries have been trapped in forced labor

    Washington (CNN) -- After several years of what it calls broken promises, the U.S. government has singled out Thailand, Malaysia, The Gambia and Venezuela for taking insufficient action against human trafficking.

    In its annual Trafficking in Persons (TIP) Report, released Friday, the State Department downgraded the four nations to Tier 3, the lowest possible ranking it gives for a country's response to fighting modern-day slavery.

    The report says there is evidence of forced labor and sex trafficking in Malaysia and Thailand. It highlights Malaysia's problem with migrants from other Asian nations who seek work on farms, factories and construction sites only to be trapped and have their passports taken and wages withheld.

    In Thailand, the report says, tens of thousands of migrants from neighboring countries are being exploited in the commercial sex industry, on fishing boats or as domestic servants.

    And in Venezuela, women and girls are often lured from poor interior regions to tourist centers with the promise of false job offers. When they arrive, they are often forced into prostitution.

    The report ranks governments based on their perceived efforts to acknowledge and combat human trafficking, advance reforms and target resources for prevention, protection and prosecution programs.

    It divides nations into three tiers based on their compliance with 11 "minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking."

    -- Tier 1 countries include governments fully compliant with the minimum standards.

    -- Tier 2 countries don't fully comply, but are making significant efforts to do so. (A Tier 2 Watch List includes countries with a high number of victims, or where the numbers are significantly increasing. It also includes countries where there's insufficient evidence of acceptable efforts to improve anti-trafficking programs).

    -- Tier 3 countries do not fully comply with the minimum standards and have not shown the U.S. they are making significant efforts to do so.

    A Tier 3 status can also mean less money as the U.S. government may use the designation to withhold or withdraw assistance that is unrelated to trade or humanitarian aid. Those countries could also face U.S. opposition in obtaining development aid from international financial institutions like the World Bank or International Monetary Fund.

    More than 20 million people worldwide are believed to be ensnared in some form of human trafficking, according to the International Labour Organization.

    Luis CdeBaca, ambassador-at-large of the Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons, cited Thailand and Malaysia's repeated noncompliance in meeting minimum anti-trafficking standards.

    "Malaysia continues to have a victim care regime that basically locks up the victims," Cdebaca said.

    "In Thailand, we have a lot of beginnings that will hopefully come to fruition, but the report doesn't look at promises. It looks at results."

    In Venezuela, women and girls are often lured from poor interior regions to tourist centers with the promise of false job offers. When they arrive, they are often forced into prostitution.

    Four other countries had faced possible downgrades to Tier 3 -- Afghanistan, Barbados, Chad and the Maldives.

    Cdebaca said each of those demonstrated over the past year that their governments were serious about stopping human trafficking.

    "In Afghanistan, for the first time now, we're seeing 14 traffickers were convicted. We're even seeing the conviction of soldiers," says Cdebaca.

    While the United States puts itself in the Tier 1 category, the State Department acknowledges its own problems fighting trafficking, something that hadn't been done in the report until 2010.

    This year's report highlights several new groups within the U.S. that may be vulnerable to traffickers, including teens living on Native American reservations and members of the LGBT community.

    Other Tier 3 countries are Algeria; Central African Republic; Cuba; Democratic Republic of Congo; Equatorial Guinea; Eritrea; Guinea-Bissau; Iran; Kuwait; Libya; Mauritania; North Korea; Papua New Guinea; Russia; Saudi Arabia; Syria; Uzbekistan; Yemen; and Zimbabwe.

  • #2
    Tiers: Placement, Guide, and Penalties for Tier 3 Countries

    A Guide To The Tiers

    Tier 1Tier 2Tier 2 Watch ListTier 3
    Penalties for Tier 3 Countries


    • #3
      Prayuth targets human traffickers
      Wassana Nanuam

      The National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) is ready to go after influential figures and officials involved in trafficking illegal workers from neighbouring countries, vows Gen Prayuth Chan-ocha.

      Coup leader Gen Prayuth Chan-ocha appears on television for his pre-recorded weekly address on Friday.

      "The NCPO will concentrate on a crackdown on influential persons who reap benefits from trafficking illegal labourers," the NCPO chairman said in his pre-recorded weekly programme on Friday.

      The comments were broadcast at almost the same moment that the United States was announcing that Thailand had been moved to the bottom of a list of the worst countries in the world for human trafficking. (The full report is here.)

      Gen Prayuth said traffickers pocketed 20,000 baht per worker for arranging their border crossing into Thailand. Each labourer was also forced to pay between 8,000 and 10,000 baht after getting inside the country, he said, citing intelligence information.

      At least 200,000 workers returned to Cambodia over the past two weeks, panicked by reports that security authorities were preparing to crack down on illagel labour.

      Gen Prayuth said the rumour was spread by influential figures and "corrupt" officials. Their intention, he said, was to sow panic so they would be able to collect even more money from the workers when they returned to Thailand.

      "Our intelligence reports pointed to the operation of influential figures and corrupt officials who released scare stories to discredit the NCPO," he said. "They wanted workers to return to their countries so that they can make money again when they come to Thailand.

      "The NCPO will quickly crack down on them."

      The army chief said illegal workers would be allowed to work temporarily in the country while the junta worked out long-term solutions, including plans to register them and verify the nationality of undocumented workers.

      One proposal he made was for reception centres to be set up to help groups such as the stateless Muslim Rohingya, who are fleeing persecution that borders on genocide in Myanmar.

      Discussing the economic outlook, Gen Prayuth said the junta was willing to accept a budget deficit as spending on rail and transport systems will be high on its agenda for quick improvements.

      The expenditure budget for the 2015 fiscal year has been set at 2.575 trillion baht with a deficit of 250 billion, he said. The fiscal year starts on Oct 1.

      He defended the deficitas necessary to revitalise the sagging economy as the global economy had not improved as fast as hoped.

      The army chief stressed that strict financial discipline would be followed to ensure that all spending would be for the public benefit. Redundant projects would be eradicated and authorities would foster cooperation among agencies undertaking the same project.

      Investments in the pipeline will focus on infrastructure development with more mass-transit lines and dual tracks for the nationwide railway system deemed necessary, he said. Other projects included the building of the network to connect all mass-transit systems, he added.

      The projects could start when the new fiscal year begins after the State Railway of Thailand and the Transport Ministry complete their detailed plans, Gen Prayuth said.
      The NCPO chairman also vowed to make all state enterprises transparent and improve their efficiency so that they would be competitive with private organisations.

      The chairmen and directors of a number of state enterprises have resigned in recent weeks to pave the way for reforms. The enterprises affected include Airports of Thailand Plc, PTT Plc and the Mass Rapid Transit Authority of Thailand. Many of those who have been resigning had links to the deposed government.

      "Persons with qualifications and business experienc including those with skills in management, marketing, finance and security will be sought (to join stateenterprises) in the short term," said Gen Prayuth.

      "The management of state-owned agencies must be transparent, accoutable and efficient. Legal experts have been assigned by the NCPO to study a practical blueprint."

      Turning to otherreform efforts, Gen Prayuth said 25 political party and opinion leaders had been called in to air their opinions on reform and another 25 would follow as preparations continue toward setting up a reform council.

      Talks about reform including a focus group will completed in July, he added.


      • #4
        ''Are you a Thai?

        Thailand and Human Trafficking: The Reasons for the Downgrade
        Friday, June 20, 2014

        PHUKET: It was back in 2009 that a Thai military officer leaned towards Phuketwan journalist Chutima Sidasathian and asked: ''Are you a Thai?''

        An effort was being made by a senior officer to explain away the ''pushbacks'' of Rohingya boatpeople to their deaths as somehow being in the national interest of Thailand.

        ''Are you a Thai?''

        Not a lot has changed in five years.

        We know that there are still senior Royal Thai Navy officers who continue to ask journalists: ''Are you a Thai?'' as if that somehow justifies the mistreatment of innocent men, women and children, the human trafficking, the loss of lives.

        The right answer to the question, ''Are you a Thai?'' is, ''Of course I am a Thai, but the treatment of Rohingya boatpeople requires everyone to answer as a human being first.''

        Thailand's coup commander, General Prayuth Chan-ocha, was speaking on television tonight almost at the same time as the US State Department's Trafficking in Persons report was being unveiled in Washington.

        We suspect that if the general was asked in the context of human trafficking: ''Are you a Thai?'' he would answer: ''Of course I am a Thai, but first I am a human being.''

        He appears to not be the kind of military officer who would use the issue of national security as an excuse for deception and the abuse by the military and authorities of the downtrodden.

        And if the media asks him in the next few days about what will follow in terms of Thailand's downgrading on the US State Department's Trafficking in Persons report, we hope he will respond in similar fashion to his televised speech tonight.

        He aims to eliminate the exploiters and to make all systems transparent to the people of Thailand, and to the world. At Phuketwan, we find that a welcome change of approach.

        Here is the Thailand section of the Trafficking in Persons report in full:

        Thailand is a source, destination, and transit country for men, women, and children subjected to forced labor and sex trafficking. Victims from neighboring countries, as well as China, Vietnam, Russia, Uzbekistan, India, and Fiji, migrate willingly to Thailand to seek employment, often with the assistance of relatives and community members or through the use of informal recruitment and smuggling networks.

        There are an estimated two to three million migrant workers in Thailand, most of whom are from Burma. The majority of the trafficking victims within Thailand tens of thousands of victims, by conservative estimates are migrants from Thailand's neighboring countries who are forced, coerced, or defrauded into labor or exploited in the sex trade.

        A significant portion of labor trafficking victims within Thailand are exploited in commercial fishing, fishing-related industries, low-end garment production, factories, and domestic work; some victims are forced to beg on the streets.

        There are reports of corrupt officials on both sides of the border who facilitate the smuggling of undocumented migrants between Thailand and neighboring countries including Laos, Burma, and Cambodia; many of these migrants subsequently become trafficking victims.

        Unidentified trafficking victims are among the large numbers of undocumented migrants deported to Laos, Burma, and Cambodia each year. Burmese, Cambodian, and Thai men are subjected to forced labor on Thai fishing boats that travel throughout Southeast Asia and beyond; some men remain at sea for up to several years, are paid very little, are expected to work 18 to 20 hours per day for seven days a week, or are threatened and physically beaten.

        A 2013 report found that approximately 17 percent of surveyed fishermen, who primarily worked on short haul vessels spending less than one month at sea, experienced forced labor conditions, often due to threats of financial penalty including not being fully remunerated for work already performed.

        A 2010 assessment of the cumulative risk of labor trafficking among Burmese migrant workers in the seafood industry in Samut Sakhon found that 57 percent of the 430 workers surveyed experienced conditions of forced labor. As fishing is an unregulated industry region-wide, fishermen typically do not have written employment contracts with their employers.

        Reports during the year indicate this form of forced labor continues to be prevalent, and that increasing international scrutiny has led traffickers to use new methods, making their crimes more difficult to detect. Men from Thailand, Burma, and Cambodia are forced to work on Thai-flagged fishing boats in Thai and international waters and were rescued from countries including Malaysia, Indonesia, Vietnam, and Timor-Leste. The number of Cambodian victims rescued from Thai fishing vessels in countries around the world more than doubled in 2013. Cambodian and Burmese workers are increasingly unwilling to work in the Thai fishing industry due to dangerous and exploitative work conditions which make them more vulnerable to trafficking.

        There continued to be reports that corrupt Thai civilian and military officials profited from the smuggling of Rohingya asylum seekers from Burma and Bangladesh (who transit through Thailand in order to reach Malaysia or Indonesia) and were complicit in their sale into forced labor on fishing vessels.

        Thai navy and marine officials allegedly diverted to Thailand boats carrying Rohingya asylum seekers en route to Malaysia and facilitated the transfer of some migrants to smugglers and brokers who sold some Rohingya into forced labor on fishing vessels.

        Additionally, there are media reports that some Thai police officials systematically removed Rohingya men from detention facilities in Thailand and sold them to smugglers and brokers; these smugglers and brokers allegedly transported the men to southern Thailand where some were forced to work as cooks and guards in camps, or were sold into forced labor on farms or in shipping companies.

        Traffickers (including labor brokers) who bring foreign victims into Thailand generally work as individuals or in unorganised groups, while those who exploit Thai victims abroad tend to be more organised. Labor brokers, largely unregulated and of both Thai and foreign nationalities, serve as intermediaries between job-seekers and employers; some facilitate or engage in human trafficking and collaborate with employers and at times with corrupt law enforcement officials.

        Foreign migrants, members of ethnic minorities, and stateless persons in Thailand are at the greatest risk of being trafficked, and they experience various abuses that may indicate trafficking, including the withholding of travel documents, migrant registration cards, work permits, and wages. They may also experience illegal salary deductions by employers, physical and verbal abuse, and threats of deportation.

        Undocumented migrants are highly vulnerable to trafficking due to their lack of legal status, which often makes them fearful of reporting problems to government officials. Many migrant workers incur exorbitant debts, both in Thailand and in countries of origin,
        to obtain employment and may therefore be subjected to debt bondage.

        Members of ethnic minorities and stateless persons in Thailand face elevated risks of becoming trafficking victims. Highland men, women, and children in the northern areas of Thailand are particularly vulnerable to trafficking; UN research cites a lack of legal status as the primary causal factor of their exploitation. Some children from Thailand, Cambodia, and Burma are forced by their parents or brokers to sell flowers,beg, or work in domestic service in urban areas.

        Thai victims are recruited for employment opportunities abroad and deceived into incurring large debts to pay broker and recruitment fees, sometimes using family-owned land as collateral, making them vulnerable to exploitation at their destination. Thai nationals have been subjected to forced labor or sex trafficking in Australia, South Africa, and in countries in the Middle East, North America, Europe, and Asia. Some Thai men who migrate for low-skilled contract work and agricultural labor are subjected to conditions of forced labor and debt bondage.

        The majority of Thai victims identified during the year were found in sex trafficking. Women and girls from Thailand, Laos, Vietnam, and Burma, including some who initially intentionally seek work in Thailand's extensive sex trade, are subjected to sex trafficking.

        Child sex trafficking, once known to occur in highly visible establishments, has become increasingly clandestine, occurring in massage parlors, bars, karaoke lounges, hotels, and
        private residences. Children who have false identity documents are exploited in the sex trade in karaoke or massage parlors.

        Local NGOs report an increasing use of social media to recruit women and children into sex trafficking. Victims are subjected to sex trafficking in venues that cater to local demand and in business establishments in Bangkok and Chiang Mai that cater to foreign tourists' demand for commercial sex.

        Thailand is a transit country for victims from North Korea, China, Vietnam, Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Burma subjected to sex trafficking or forced labor in countries such as Malaysia, Indonesia, Singapore, Russia, South Korea, the United States, and countries in Western Europe.

        There were reports that separatist groups in southern Thailand continued to recruit and use children to commit acts of arson or serve as scouts.

        The Government of Thailand does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking. In the 2012 and 2013 TIP Reports, Thailand was granted consecutive waivers from an otherwise required downgrade to Tier 3 on the basis of a written plan to bring itself into compliance with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking.

        The Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA) authorises a maximum of two consecutive waivers. A waiver is no longer available to Thailand, which is therefore deemed not to be making significant efforts to comply with the minimum standards and is placed on Tier 3.

        The Government of Thailand improved its anti-trafficking data collection. It reported convicting 225 traffickers under the 2008 anti-trafficking law and related statutes in 2013.
        Overall anti-trafficking law enforcement efforts remained insufficient compared with the size of the problem in Thailand, and corruption at all levels hampered the success of these

        Despite frequent media and NGO reports documenting instances of forced labor and debt bondage among foreign migrants in Thailand's commercial sectors - including the
        fishing industry - the government demonstrated few efforts to address these trafficking crimes.

        It systematically failed to investigate, prosecute, and convict ship owners and captains for extracting forced labor from migrant workers, or officials who may be complicit in these crimes; the government convicted two brokers for facilitating forced labor on fishing vessels. The government did not make sufficient efforts to proactively identify trafficking victims among foreign migrants, who remained at risk of punishment for immigration violations.

        A critical shortage of available interpretation services across government agencies limited efforts to identify and protect foreign victims, and authorities identified fewer foreign labor trafficking victims than it did during the previous year. There were media reports in 2013 of trafficking-related complicity by Thai civilian and navy personnel in crimes involving the exploitation of Rohingya asylum seekers from Burma and Bangladesh. The Thai navy claimed that these reports were false and responded by filing criminal defamation charges against two journalists in Thailand for re-printing these reports.

        Impunity for pervasive traffickingrelated corruption continued to impede progress in combating trafficking.

        Recommendations for Thailand:

        Promptly and thoroughly investigate all reports of government complicity in trafficking, and increase efforts, particularly through the Department of Special Investigation and the Office of National Anti-Corruption Commission and the Office of Public Sector Anti-Corruption Commission, to prosecute and punish officials engaged in trafficking-related corruption; increase efforts to prosecute and convict trafficking offenders, including those
        who subject victims to forced labor in Thailand's commercial and export oriented sectors; develop and implement victim identification procedures that prioritise the rights and safety
        of potential victims; significantly increase efforts to proactively identify victims of trafficking among vulnerable populations, particularly foreign migrants, deportees, and refugees; pursue criminal investigations of cases in which labor inspections reveal indicators of forced labor - including the imposition of significant debts by employers or labor brokers, withholding of wages, or document confiscation; cease prosecuting criminal
        defamation cases against researchers or journalists who report on human trafficking; recognizing the valuable role of NGOs and workers' organisations in uncovering the nature and scope of human trafficking in Thailand, work to establish an environment conducive to robust civil society participation in all facets of understanding and combating human trafficking; allow every adult trafficking victim - including sex trafficking victims - to
        travel, work, and reside outside shelters in accordance with provisions in Thailand's anti-trafficking law; significantly increase the availability of interpretation services across government agencies with responsibilities for protecting foreign migrants; increase incentives for victims to cooperate with law enforcement in the investigation and prosecution of trafficking cases; consider establishing a dedicated court division, or take other measures to consistently expedite the prosecution of trafficking cases; develop
        and provide specialized services for child sex trafficking victims and take appropriate steps to ensure their cases progress quickly; implement court procedures which prioritize the protection of witnesses; restrict bail to alleged trafficking offenders to prevent flight; enact legislation that protects officials against legal retaliation for pursuing trafficking cases; consistently include trained social workers or victim service organizations in victim screening interviews in safe and private spaces; process and approve legal status applications at the national, district, and provincial level in a timely manner; provide legal alternatives to the removal of foreign trafficking victims to countries in which
        they would face retribution or hardship; increase efforts to seize assets of trafficking offenders and ensure these funds directly benefit victims; increase anti-trafficking awareness efforts directed at employers and clients of the sex trade, including sex tourists; and make efforts to decrease the demand for exploitive labor.


        The Thai government improved its anti-trafficking data collection, allowing more accurate reporting on prosecutions and convictions. Thailand's 2008 anti- trafficking law criminally prohibits all forms of trafficking and prescribes penalties ranging from four to 10 years imprisonment penalties that are sufficiently stringent and commensurate with penalties prescribed for other serious offenses, such as rape. The government reported investigating 674 trafficking cases in 2013, an increase from 306 cases in 2012. Only 80 investigations involved suspected cases of forced labor of migrant workers, despite the reported high prevalence of this form of trafficking in Thailand. The government reported prosecuting 483 suspected traffickers, including 374 for sex trafficking, 56 for forced begging, and 53 for other forms of forced labor. The government reported convicting 225 traffickers using the antitrafficking law and various other statutes in 2013. The majority of convicted offenders received sentences ranging from one to seven years' imprisonment, with 29 receiving prison sentences greater than seven years and 31 receiving sentences of less than
        one year. The Anti-Money Laundering Office seized assets of two convicted traffickers valued to the equivalent of approximately $1.1 million.

        The government did not hold ship owners, captains, or complicit government officials criminally accountable for labor trafficking in the commercial fishing industry. With investigative support from NGOs, the government prosecuted and convicted two Burmese brokers for facilitating the forced labor of Burmese men in the commercial fishing industry; one was sentenced to 33 years' imprisonment and one was sentenced to three years and six months' imprisonment. A Thai accomplice, a pier manager who held at least 14 victims in confinement, was not prosecuted for his role in their victimisation, but was convicted and sentenced to three months' imprisonment for providing shelter to undocumented workers. The government reported no investigations, prosecutions, or convictions of public officials or private individuals for allegedly subjecting Rohingya asylum seekers to forced labor in Thailand's commercial fishing sector. There were no developments in the Supreme Court's consideration of an appeal of a 2009 conviction, upheld in 2011, of two offenders found guilty of subjecting 73 victims to forced labor in a shrimp-peeling factory; both offenders remained free on bail during the reporting period for a second year. The government addressed cases involving illegal recruitment fees and withholding of wages as civil violations under the Labor Protection Act instead of as criminal cases under the 2008 anti-trafficking law.

        In one case, the government reported investigating and disciplining 33 local police officers on suspicion of protecting a brothel where child sex trafficking victims were found. However, trafficking-related corruption remained widespread among Thai law enforcement personnel. Credible reports indicated some corrupt officials protected brothels, other commercial sex venues, and food processing facilities from raids and inspections; colluded with traffickers; used information from victim interviews to weaken cases; and engaged in commercial sex acts with child trafficking victims. Local and national-level police officers established protective relationships with traffickers in trafficking hot-spot regions to which they were assigned. Thai police officers and immigration officials reportedly extorted money or sex from Burmese migrants detained in Thailand for immigration violations and sold Burmese migrants unable to pay labor brokers and sex traffickers. Although the government reported conducting an internal investigation of trafficking related military complicity in the exploitation of Rohingya asylum seekers, observers claimed that the government failed to thoroughly investigate the allegations. In December 2013, the Thai navy filed a defamation lawsuit against two journalists from a local newspaper that published excerpts of media reports that alleged trafficking-related complicity by Thai civilian and navy personnel.
        The government continued to provide training to thousands of public officials on trafficking victim identification and the provisions of the anti-trafficking law. It reported numerous
        cooperative international investigations. In one case, it responded to information provided by Burmese police, leading to the rescue of 10 Burmese victims forced to work in a food processing factory in Thailand, and the arrest of seven suspected traffickers. In a separate case, responding to a request from a civil society organisation, officials cooperated with foreign counterparts in South Africa to rescue Thai women subjected to
        sex trafficking and arrested three alleged perpetrators. Challenges with collaboration between police and prosecutors limited the success of prosecution efforts. Interagency coordination was weakened by a rudimentary data collection system that made
        it difficult to share information across agencies. Local observers reported officials were vulnerable to retaliation suits or charges of defamation if cases were unsuccessful - a disincentive to pursue difficult cases. Overall, the justice system increased the speed at
        which it resolved criminal cases, though some trafficking cases continued to take three years or longer to reach completion. Frequent personnel changes hampered the government's ability to make progress on anti-trafficking law enforcement efforts, and some suspected offenders fled the country or intimidated victims after judges decided to grant bail, further contributingto a sense of impunity among traffickers.


        The government's efforts to identify and protect trafficking victims remained inadequate. The government provided services to 744 trafficking victims, and the Ministry of Social
        Development and Human Security (MSDHS) reported that it provided assistance to 681 victims at government shelters (an increase from 526 in 2012), including 305 Thai victims
        (compared with 166 Thai victims in 2012), 373 foreign victims (compared with 360 foreign victims in 2012), and three whose nationalities were unknown. Authorities identified an additional 63 Thai victims subjected to sex or labor trafficking overseas; these victims were processed at a government center upon arrival in the Bangkok airport and returned to their home communities. The government identified 219 foreign labor trafficking victims in 2013 - a decrease from 254 identified in 2012. The Thai government continued to refer victims to one of nine regional trafficking shelters run by the MSDHS, where they reportedly received counseling, limited legal assistance, and medical care. Some interpretation services were available in Burmese, Cambodian, Chinese, and certain ethnic minority languages. Thai embassy officials, in collaboration with MSDHS, rescued and repatriated Thai victims identified in Malaysia and South Africa. There were reports that some personnel in a Thai embassy overseas may have been unwilling to respond to
        requests to assist Thai victims in that country. The government responded to information provided by NGOs and foreign governments to identify and rescue victims. Although
        it reported using systematic procedures to screen for victims among vulnerable populations and placed posters explaining victims' rights in deportation facilities to encourage victims to self-identify, its proactive efforts to screen for victims among vulnerable groups remained inadequate. NGOs reported that the government did not provide adequate interpretation services or private spaces to screen potential victims, severely limiting the
        effectiveness of such efforts. During the year, the government trained 95 new interpreters. The government reported deploying multi-disciplinary teams to interview 2,985 Rohingya asylum seekers and Bangladeshi migrants identified during raids on camps in southern Thailand to screen for indications of trafficking. Despite media and NGO reports throughout the year that some individuals among this population were subjected to forced labor in Thailand, the government did not identify a Rohingya victim of trafficking. Experts highlight that Rohingya victims may have been hesitant to identify themselves as trafficking victims due to fears they would subsequently be sent back to their country of origin. Thailand's laws do not provide legal alternatives to removal for foreign trafficking victims who may face retribution or hardship in their countries of origin.

        Many victims, particularly undocumented migrants who feared legal consequences from interacting with authorities, were hesitant to identify themselves as victims, and front-line officials were not adequately trained to identify indicators of trafficking when victims did not self-identify. Law enforcement officers often believed physical detention or confinement was the essential element to confirm trafficking and failed to recognise exploitive debt or manipulation of undocumented migrants' fear of deportation as non-physical forms of coercion used in human trafficking. In some provinces, the government used multidisciplinary teams consisting of social workers and law enforcement officers to identify and rescue victims, but only law enforcement officials were able to make the final determination to certify an individual as a trafficking victim; in cases of debt
        bondage, the denial of certification at times occurred over the objection of social service providers.

        The government issued six-month work permits and visas (renewable for the duration of court cases) that allowed 128 foreign victims to work temporarily in Thailand during the course of legal proceedings, an increase from 107 in 2012. Seventeen adult female victims received permits; some victims were not allowed to work due to the government's assessment that it would be unsafe or unhealthy for them to do so. Women without work permits were typically required to stay in government shelters and could not leave the premises unattended until Thai authorities were ready to repatriate them. There were reports that victims, including those allowed to work, were only given a copy of their identity documents and work permits, while the original documents were kept by government officials. The government disbursed the equivalent of approximately $145,000 from its anti-trafficking fund to victims. These funds were allocated among 525 victims, including paying for the repatriation of 335 foreign victims. Seventy-five trafficking victims benefited from the government's general crime victim compensation scheme, which disbursed the equivalent of approximately $65,000 in 2013. The 2008 anti-trafficking law includes provisions for civil compensation for victims; the government filed petitions on behalf of 68 victims, and requested a total equivalent of approximately $580,000, though there were no judgments allowing the disbursement of these funds during the year.
        Although more than three-quarters of identified victims were children, the government did not offer specialized services for child sex trafficking victims. The prosecution of some cases involving foreign child victims continued to take two years or longer. Judicial officials did not always follow procedures to ensure the safety of witnesses; victims, including children, were at times forced to testify in front of alleged perpetrators and some were forced to publicly disclose personal information, such as their address, which put them at serious risk of retaliation. The government did not provide legal alternatives to victims
        who faced retribution or hardship upon return to their home countries; foreign victims were systematically repatriated if they were unwilling to testify or following the conclusion of
        legal proceedings. NGOs reported concerns over the lack of appropriate options for foreign children whose families were complicit in their trafficking or who could not be identified. Local observers in Cambodia reported that a number of Cambodians, who were identified as trafficking victims or people vulnerable to trafficking by Thai authorities, were nonetheless held in Thai detention centers for one month prior to their repatriation. A 2005 cabinet resolution established that stateless trafficking victims in Thailand could be given residency status on a case by- case basis; however, the Thai government had yet to report granting residency status to a foreign or stateless trafficking victim. Thai law protects victims from being prosecuted for acts committed as a result of being trafficked; however, the serious
        flaws in the Thai government's victim identification procedures and its aggressive efforts to arrest and deport immigration violators increased victims' risk of being re-victimised and treated as criminals. Inadequate victim identification procedures may have resulted in some victims being treated as law violators following police raids of brothels. Unidentified victims were likely among the 190,144 migrant workers subjected to government citations for lack of proper documentation during the year, as well as among Rohingya men detained in sometimes-overcrowded detention facilities.


        The government continued efforts to prevent trafficking. In October 2013, Thailand ratified the 2000 UN TIP Protocol. The government allotted the equivalent of approximately
        $6.1 million to conduct anti-trafficking efforts. It conducted campaigns through the use of radio, television, billboards,and handouts to raise public awareness of the dangers of human trafficking throughout the country. Media reported that the government invested more than the equivalent of approximately $400,000 in a communication strategy to improve the public image of its efforts to combat human trafficking. The use of criminal defamation laws to prosecute individuals for researching or reporting on human trafficking may have discouraged efforts to combat trafficking. Four UN special rapporteurs expressed concerns that an ongoing prosecution against an anti-trafficking and migrant's rights advocate, in an act of retaliation for his research documenting alleged trafficking
        violations in a food processing factory in Thailand, may have had the effect of silencing other human rights advocates, and that the government did not adequately address the underlying allegations of violations in the report in question. NGOs expressed similar concerns over a criminal defamation lawsuit filed by the Thai navy against two journalists in December 2013 for publishing excerpts of media reports that alleged trafficking-related complicity by Thai civilian and navy personnel. The process to legalise migrant workers involved high fees and poorly regulated and unlicensed labor brokers, increasing
        the vulnerability of migrant workers to trafficking and debt bondage. The government took no steps to improve this process or improve laws to regulate inbound recruitment agencies
        and fees. The government, through its inaction to process and approve legal status applications, failed to take measures to reduce the vulnerability to trafficking of members of Thailand's hill tribe communities; some of these applications have been
        pending for four years. Government labor inspections of 40,963 worksites did not result in the identification of any suspected cases of labor trafficking. The Marine Police and the Thai navy did not uncover any suspected cases of trafficking during ownership and registration inspections of 10,427 vessels. The government opened seven labor coordination centers, operated by the Ministry of Labor, to increase registration of workers and address labor shortages in the fishing industry and create a centralised hiring hall for prospective workers. More than 10,400 fishermen were registered with 395 employers through the coordination centers. Although it acknowledged the labor shortage was due in large part to some workers' unwillingness to work in the fishing industry due to poor working and living conditions, the government did not make efforts to significantly improve
        these conditions during the year. The government did not pass revisions to labor laws which could help improve protection for workers on fishing vessels. Weak law enforcement, inadequate human and financial resources, and fragmented coordination among regulatory agencies in the fishing industry contributed to overall impunity for exploitative labor practices in this sector. In November 2013, the government passed a ministerial regulation
        requiring employers to deduct a refundable fee from workers' salaries to contribute to a ''repatriation fund''; the imposition of additional fees and the introduction of additional bureaucratic requirements on migrant workers could increase their debt burden. The Ministry of Labor established centers in 10 provinces to provide information and services to Thai workers seeking employment overseas, but the Department of Employment remained ineffective in regulating the excessive fees incurred by these workers in order to obtain employment, which make them vulnerable to debt bondage.

        During the year, the government revoked the licenses of two labor recruitment agencies, suspended the license of four agencies, and filed criminal charges against nine companies (four of which were fined) and 155 illegal agents that sent Thai workers abroad. In an effort to prevent child sex tourism, the government denied entry to 79 known foreign sex offenders and launched a public awareness campaign warning tourists of the strict
        penalties for engaging in sex with minors. The government also developed a surveillance network on child sex tourism by training business operators in high-risk areas to identify and report cases to the police. The government did not make other efforts to decrease the demand for commercial sex acts or forced labor. The government did not provide Thai security forces with anti-trafficking training prior to their deployment abroad on international peacekeeping missions, though it briefed diplomats on human trafficking before their departure to overseas posts.


        • #5
          Thailand slams US trafficking report

          The Foreign Affairs Ministry has slammed the United States for downgrading Thailand in its human trafficking report and urged it to reconsider the decision.

          Migrant workers unload frozen fish from a boat at a fish market in Samut Sakhon province on Friday.

          (AP photo)

          "It's not right for one country to use its yardstick to judge the performance of another country," foreign affairs permanent secretary Sihasak Phuangketkeow told a press conference at the Information and Communication Ministry in Bangkok on Saturday.

          "The decision is most regrettable .... Thailand is disappointed and respectfully disagreed with the State Department's decision," he said.

          "I do know Thailand is doing better [in fighting human trafficking than the other countries in the Tier 3 category]," he said.

          Mr Sihasak also urged the State Department to reconsider its downgrade for Thailand, given the efforts Thailand have made in the past years.

          Thailand believes it had made tangible progress in combatting human trafficking in Thailand, he said.

          "Ridding the country of human trafficking is a national priority," he said, adding Thailand stood ready to do more to prevent and suppress human trafficking.

          The National Council for Peace and Order has reaffirmed its support for all involved agencies to prevent and suppress human trafficking, he added.

          Mr Sihasak concluded by saying human trafficking "is a scourge we all face, it's a challenge to mankind".


          The US downgraded Thailand, Malaysia and Venezuela on Friday to its list of the world's worst centres of human trafficking, opening up the countries to possible sanctions and dumping them in the same category as North Korea and Syria.

          The three countries were all downgraded to the lowest Tier 3 status in the US State Department's 2014 Trafficking in Persons Report as they did not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking.


          • #6
            Food producers to act on US downgrade
            Petchanet Pratruangkrai
            June 22, 2014

            Manufacturers may get 'third party' to do labour checks; will seek US advice

            Food manufacturers are preparing to work with American importers and a third party like the International Labour Organisation (ILO) to facilitate an audit or traceable inspections of food plants to make the point that Thais treat their workers well.

            In response to the US downgrade of Thailand as among the world's worst at countering human trafficking, the Thai Frozen Foods Association will this week fly to the US for a meeting with importers and super stores to convince them to continue importing Thai products.

            Poj Aramwattananont, president of the association, said that food manufacturers are highly alert to the US report on labour. The association, as a representative of the Thai seafood manufacturers and fishery industries, will soon meet with the National Fisheries Institutes (NFI) of the US to try to ensure that they will continue to have high confidence in importing food from Thailand.

            "The US Trafficking in Persons Report [TIP] has created a bad reputation for Thai food industries," Poj said. "So, the association and involved organisations need to urgently solve the problem. Exports are not yet impacted as Thai enterprises have always worked on labour protection and addressed the concerns of our trading partners."

            He said he and the association's members would spend a week in the US for a meeting with the NFI and importers such as Walmart and other modern traders so that they continue to buy Thai food products.

            Teams will head to the US

            Poj also explained that normally Thai exporters and importers agree on a system that is "traceable". Importers have sent teams to inspect Thai plants regularly. However, in this difficult period, he felt a third party was needed to reaffirm confidence in Thai plants and the fisheries industry - from upstream to downstream production.

            According to the association, the US is one of Thailand's major seafood and frozen foods importers, particularly Thai shrimp and tuna.

            Shrimp exports to the US account for about 38 per cent of total export value while tuna exports to the US account for 20 per cent.

            Besides private enterprises who have moved on the labour issue, the Commerce Ministry has instructed the Thai Trade Representative in Washington DC to increase understanding among American importers and government agencies in a bid to prevent any impact on Thai trade with the US.

            Srirat Rastapana, permanent secretary at the ministry, said that the American NFI has insisted on continuing trade with Thailand.

            The NFI has a good understanding of the Thai shrimp industry. It has said that there are labour problems in only some parts of the shrimp industry, which the Thai government needs to solve. The NFI also insisted that it would not do business or import products from plants that have low labour protection and safety standards.

            To prevent any impact on Thai trading, the ministry and other involved ministries will soon send a team to the US for a meeting with government agencies, private enterprises, and directly with American consumers in various states of the US to send a clear message on Thai labour protection measures.

            Asked whether there were concerns about losing the Generalised System of Preference, Srirat said the human-trafficking report would not affect the Thai GSP because under the Trafficking Victims Protection Act 2000, the US administration could not withdraw trade privileges or benefits related to trading issues of trading partner countries.

            In the near future, the ministry will also meet with involved private enterprises to outline long-term plans for increasing efficiency on labour protection.



            • #7

              "The US Trafficking in Persons Report [TIP] has created a bad reputation for Thai food industries," Poj said.
              Absolute unadulterated garbage .

              The Thai food Industries have earned their abysmal reputation and will continue to carry it untill they admit they are the source of the problem and clean up their act .


              • #8
                NCPO blames graft for TIP ranking cut

                Inadequate enforcement of anti-human trafficking laws and corruption among authorities assigned to maintain the laws are to blame for the US deciding to downgrade Thailand to the lowest level, or Tier 3, in its Trafficking in Persons (TIP) report, the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) says.



                • #9
                  Ministry of Commerce denies that Thai exports to US will be banned



                  • #10
                    Thailand expects to keep lowest ranking

                    Despite efforts by the junta and companies to deal with child labour and slavery allegations, it is highly likely Thailand will remain at the lowest level in the US human trafficking report next year.

                    Cambodian workers sort fish at a market in Rayong province. A Thai official believes despite progress, Thailand will not be upgraded in the 2015 US report.

                    "We're not really confident of an upgrade, as several countries such as Brazil have taken more than three years to address the issue," said Panjit Pisawong, deputy director-general of the Foreign Trade Department. "However, we're preparing to submit documents to the US State Department next March showing Thailand's progress in hopes we will rise from the lowest level."

                    The State Department downgraded Thailand to the lowest Tier 3 status in its 2014 Trafficking in Persons (TIP) Report for not fully complying with minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking. Thailand joined Syria, Iran and North Korea and 17 other nations on Tier 3. Thailand did sit at Tier 2 for four years prior.

                    The TIP report does not contain any mechanism to impose trade barriers, and states any US opposition to assistance for foreign governments must exclude trade-related assistance.

                    But the report could affect lending to the country. The US could decide to put pressure international financial institutions such as the International Monetary Fund and World Bank not to lend to Thailand.

                    The allegations mainly centre on the shrimp, fish, sugar cane, garment and pornography industries.

                    Ms Panjit said the National Council for Peace and Order prioritised cracking down on human trafficking and other problems related to the exploitation of illegal labour.

                    One of the junta's measures was to set up a one-stop service centre to register migrant workers.

                    The centre is supposed to speed up the documentation of workers, mainly from neighbouring countries, as part of security measures to ensure their access to labour rights and benefits.

                    The private sector, especially small operators, agreed to a code of conduct regarding labour standards.



                    • #11

                      Salman Rafi Sheikh
                      Salman Rafi Sheikh is an academician who writes regularly for Asia Sentinel.
                      WED,10 SEPTEMBER 2014

                      Farmng shrimp

                      The Guardian


                      • #12
                        No US sanctions over trafficking

                        In June, the two Southeast Asian nations were downgraded in State Department's annual Trafficking in Persons Report from Tier 2 to Tier 3. The report assesses how governments around the world have performed in fighting the flesh trade and other forms of exploitative labour.

                        On paper, the downgrade could have triggered sanctions that include the withholding or withdrawal of US non-humanitarian and non-trade-related assistance. It could also have meant that Thailand would face US opposition to assistance from international financial institutions such as the International Monetary Fund and World Bank.

                        The president can block various types of US aid and withdraw US support for loans from the World Bank and International Monetary Fund for governments that are blacklisted. But the US often chooses not to, based on its national security interests.

                        It's waiving sanctions against several countries, including Saudi Arabia, Uzbekistan, and Yemen.

                        Thursday's announcement does not end restrictions on US assistance to Thailand imposed after a May military coup.



                        • #13
                          Relief as US opts against sanctions
                          PETCHANET PRATRUANGKRAI,
                          ERICH PARPART
                          September 20, 2014

                          Thailand yesterday welcomed US President Barack Obama's decision not to impose sanctions against the Kingdom over its failure to combat human trafficking, assuring it would continue to work hard to improve its performance in this area.

                          Washington downgraded Thailand's status in its "Trafficking in Persons" (TIP) report in June.

                          Later, the ruling junta allocated energy and personnel to improve the way it handled the issue, as well as to update the US government on latest developments.

                          The decision on sanctions has delighted the country, given that the May 22 coup in May cooled relations with the US. Thailand's TIP downgrade to the lowest level - Tier III - was partly a repercussion of the soured ties, as was the cessation of some military cooperation.

                          The prospect of sanctions had, however, been feared by the country's military leaders.

                          Nuntawan Sakuntanaga, director-general of the International Trade Promotion Department, said the decision would be good for Thai exports to the US. The government will continue to work closely with concerned agencies and private enterprises to solve the problem of human trafficking and increase protection for labourers, she said.

                          The Foreign Ministry praised Obama's decision, which it said reflected that Washington had considered Thailand's efforts to improve the human trafficking situation in recent months.

                          "The decision also reflects the fact that the US gives importance to its long relationship with Thailand," said deputy spokesman Russ Jalichandra. "Thailand has a clear will to solve the problem and will cooperate with all concerned parties in this matter."

                          Commerce Minister Chatchai Sarikalya has instructed Thai trade officials overseas to draw up export strategies and stress that moves were being made to improve the country's bad reputation on human trafficking, Nuntawan added.

                          Poj Aramwattananon, president of the Thai Frozen Foods Association, said the US decision on sanctions was very good news for Thai businesses. As Thailand is still in Tier III, all involved agencies will continue to improve labour protection, he stressed, adding that he expected the current government would also stringently endorse and enforce many laws related to human-rights protection and show that Thailand was seriously concerned about labour issues.

                          Poj expects the Kingdom's TIP status to be upgraded next year.

                          Supant Mongkolsuthree, chairman of the Federation of Thai Industries (FTI), said orders for Thai products from the US could now be expected to run more smoothly than in recent months.

                          "The order level from the US should get back to normal and it should continue to improve from now on, as President Obama's announcement has proved to be more positive for the country's image," he said.

                          Supant said the public sector had been spearheading a campaign ever since the downgrade in June, and that the private sector - including the FTI - had played a supporting role by contacting foreign embassies and foreign chambers and arranging seminars to reassure foreign buyers that the country was doing everything it could to combat human trafficking.

                          Vallop Vitanakorn, vice chairman of the FTI, said the US president's decision was not unexpected, because a downgrade did not normally include a trade sanction.

                          He said that while the export of goods had not been affected by the downgrade in the past three months, the country's image had been affected.



                          • #14
                            Govt moves to tackle human trafficking
                            PRAVIT ROJANAPHRUK
                            December 24, 2014


                            THE GOVERNMENT has taken measures to improve Thailand's rating in the United States' Trafficking in Persons (TIP) Report for next year, officials said yesterday.

                            Thailand was ranked the lowest at Tier 3 in the TIP report released this year, which means the Kingdom does little to nothing to protect people from being trafficked or in prosecuting traffickers. The report is the US government's key diplomatic tool to engage foreign governments on the issue of human trafficking and modern-day slavery.

                            Focusing on possible abuse of migrant workers on trawlers, new measures just introduced, include equipping trawlers with more than eight workers with a GPS system, Varaporn Prompoth, an expert at the Department of Fishery, said.

                            "If the trawler leaves [the port] with 10 workers and returns with eight, then they will have to explain what happened to the other two. Were they thrown overboard or tortured?" Varaporn told the 13th National Symposium of Justice Administration at Queen Sirikit National Convention Centre.

                            However, he acknowledged that Thailand could do little to ensure workers' safety in international waters.

                            Other measures include holding a hearing about human-trafficking problems at 22 coastal provinces with shrimp-processing plants, as well as running roadshows in the US and France to show that Thailand is taking the problems of human trafficking and labour exploitation seriously.

                            Witchu Vejjajiva, director of the North America Division at the Foreign Ministry, commented that the US tends to be too sweeping in its judgement on human trafficking in the Kingdom.

                            He said the Foreign Ministry was trying hard to convince the US State Department that the situation in Thailand is not as bad as it appears.

                            He noted that Thailand had increased the punishment for human traffickers and offered compensation to victims in a bid to improve the situation.

                            He acknowledged, however, that the US looked into many other areas, such as whether the hotline for trafficked persons had interpreters and if people rescued were offered adequate shelter and an opportunity to earn a living. Other areas that need improvement include boosting public awareness about the human-trafficking problem.

                            While the situation has improved since the TIP report was released earlier this year and many markets have now resumed buying Thai fishery products, Witchu urged vigilance and said negative foreign reports worsen the situation.

                            Pol General Chatchawan Suksomchit, permanent secretary of the Justice Ministry, admitted yesterday that Thailand still had a lot to do, adding that the Kingdom is an independent country.

                            "Though the situation [of human trafficking] exist, we're not their colony," he said, referring to the US.



                            • #15
                              Thai PM vows to fight human trafficking in sex trade, fishing industry
                              Alisa Tang
                              Editing by Belinda Goldsmith
                              Mon Dec 29, 2014

                              Muhammed Ariful Islam, 22, a Dhaka painter who was held captive on a ship before being abandoned on a remote island, cries at a government shelter in Takua Pa district of Phang Nga October 17, 2014.
                              Credit: Reuters/Athit Perawongmetha

                              BANGKOK(Thomson Reuters Foundation) - Thai Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha has vowed to crackdown on human trafficking in the sex trade and fishing industry in 2015 and punish any public officials involved after international criticism of Thailand's failure to tackle the crime.

                              Prayuth, an army general who took power in a coup in May, said he would implement a raft of measures to stop human trade in prostitution, child trafficking, forced begging and in the fishing industry.

                              He called for legal action against anyone involved to be expedited, in particular cases against government officials.

                              The move comes after the U.S. State Department in June named Thailand as one of the world's worst centers for human trafficking, saying it was "not making significant efforts" and was a source, destination and transit country for forced labor.

                              The State Department said most victims of trafficking in Thailand are from neighboring countries and forced, coerced, or defrauded into labor, with "tens of thousands" exploited in the commercial sex trade, on fishing boats or as domestic servants.

                              A statement from the Thai government said the prime minister held a meeting last week to set out the challenges ahead including protecting victims and witnesses, working with the private sector and other organizations, and raising awareness.

                              "Discussions sought to increase the effectiveness of human trafficking prevention and suppression measures so as to yield tangible results in the first phase, or within one year," said the government statement.

                              "The Prime Minister also instructed concerned agencies to look out for officials suspected of being involved with illegal immigration and human trafficking and if caught to swiftly and resolutely proceed with legal procedures against them."

                              Thai police and officials last month reported that fishermen in southern Thailand were converting their boats to carry humans as the smuggling of Rohingya Muslims fleeing persecution in Myanmar had become so lucrative.

                              Prayuth will head a committee on human trafficking that will be divided into five sub-committees focused on the fishing industry, child labor, forced and migrant workers, women's issues, and legal affairs and public relations.

                              Each committee will submit a plan of action to Prayuth by Jan. 7 and then update him with monthly progress reports.

                              The prime minister called for prompt action on legal cases involving human trafficking, saying all agencies should expedite procedures "efficiently, fairly and transparently, in particular cases involving government officials".

                              "The Prime Minister also called for agencies to enforce the law and pursue investigations to reach influential figures and criminal masterminds," the statement said.

                              Prayuth outlined plans for a campaign to publicize a hotline to report suspected cases of human trafficking and corruption.

                              While numbers of people trafficked are hard to know, a global slavery index by Australia human rights group Walk Free Foundation estimates almost 36 million people were living as slaves, trafficked into brothels, forced into manual labor, victims of debt bondage or born into servitude.



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