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Thailand’s gains, losses cited in trafficking report

Thailand stepped up investigations of human trafficking last year but got even fewer results and prosecutions, leaving the country locked on the Tier 2 Watch List of the US State Department’s annual listing.

crime, immigration,

Bangkok Post

Wednesday 28 June 2017, 08:50AM

The government had hoped for a second consecutive promotion on the trafficking list. Photo: via Bangkok Post
The government had hoped for a second consecutive promotion on the trafficking list. Photo: via Bangkok Post

The disappointing outcome was reported just weeks ahead of an official visit to Washington by Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha.

The government had hoped for a second consecutive promotion on the trafficking list ahead of a meeting between Gen Prayut and US President Donald Trump expected in the second half of July.

The “Tier 2 Watch List” includes Thailand and 44 other countries that make significant efforts to bring their actions against human trafficking into compliance with what the US calls its Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA) standards.

The report gave this summary and reasoning for Thailand’s ranking:

“The government of Thailand does not fully meet the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking; however, it is making significant efforts to do so.”

The regime

  • did not demonstrate increasing efforts compared with the previous reporting period

  • did not aggressively prosecute and convict officials complicit in trafficking crimes

  • identified fewer victims compared with the previous reporting period

  • conducted a low number of labour trafficking investigations compared with the scale of the problem

  • increased the number of inspection centres at fishing ports but identified relatively few victims and conducted few criminal investigations

  • allowed officials involved in trafficking to impede anti-trafficking efforts

“Therefore, Thailand remained on Tier 2 Watch List for the second consecutive year.”

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However, a major bright spot was the naming of Chiang Mai activist Boom Mosby as a “TIP Report Hero” in the publication.

Ms Boom is a low-profile worker against child- and sex-trafficking in the North.

“The founder and director of the HUG Project is a passionate advocate for child victims of sexual abuse in Thailand and has been instrumental in the advancement of a victim-centered approach in Thai anti-trafficking efforts,” the US report said.

Her Advocacy Centre for Children Thailand (ACT House) has supported more than 81 investigations and is credited with the arrest of more than 20 people connected to human trafficking.

Meanwhile, as always, the report caused controversy.

For example, David Abramowitz, managing director of Humanity United, a US-base non-profit organisation dedicated to ending human trafficking, described “serious concerns” about the new report, which he said “included unjustified upgrades to Burma, Malaysia and Qatar and a failure to downgrade Thailand.”

As predicted, it placed China on the bottom rung, Tier 3, “among the world’s worst offenders for allowing modern slavery to thrive within its borders”.

“China was downgraded to Tier 3 status in this year’s report in part because it has not taken serious steps to end its own complicity in trafficking, including forced labourers from North Korea that are located in China,” Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said as he presented the report.

The State Department also removed Iraq and Myanmar from a list of countries that recruit and use child soldiers.

Myanmar was upgraded to the Tier 2 Watch List from Tier 3, beside Thailand, among nations making significant efforts to meet minimum US standards.

Afghanistan, Malaysia and Qatar were each upgraded to Tier 2, a list of nations making significant efforts to comply, from the Tier 2 Watch List.

The report said China convicted fewer sex and labour traffickers in the 12 months ended on March 31 than in the previous year, forcibly repatriated North Koreans without screening them for indicators of trafficking, and handled most forced labour cases as administrative issues rather than criminal prosecutions.



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