Joining the conference, held at Phuket Marriott Resort & Spa, Merlin Beach, were 135 representatives from major anti-crime agencies including the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the Bureau of Investigation for United States Homeland Security (HSI), Australian Border Force (ABF) immigration unit and the Office of the Diplomat of the Norwegian Police Service.
Representatives from international NGOs included ASEAN-ACT, Hanns Seidel, IOM Thailand, UNODC, the IJM Foundation, A21 Thailand Foundation, Ford Freedom International Foundation, Operation Underground Railroad, Alliance Anti-Trafic (AAT) and the Labour Protection Network (LPN).
Local enforcement was represented by officers from the Office of the Attorney-General’s, Royal Thai Navy Third Area Command (based in Phuket) and the Anti-Human Trafficking Division of the Royal Thai Police Immigration Bureau.
The three-day conference began on Wednesday and concludes today (Nov 24-26).
Mr Traiyarit said that the Thai government has given importance to the problem of human trafficking.
“It has been raised on the national agenda that all sectors must help resolve. The Minister of Justice [Somsak Thepsutin] has ordered the agencies under his supervision that the prevention and suppression of human-trafficking offenses must be taken seriously and decisively.
“The Department of Special Investigation therefore, together with government agencies and many international network partners, are holding this workshop to take lessons in the ‘Prosecution of transnational crimes in human trafficking’,” he said.
The topics of the workshop included the development of a public policy process that leaves “no person behind”, paving the way for the implementation of an ASEAN Convention against Trafficking in Persons, Mr Traiyarit explained.
“Especially women and children,” he said.
Other topics discussed among the major organisations included the investigation of human-trafficking cases in transnational crimes, and care and remedies for victims in human trafficking cases.
“There will be integration of cooperation in the form of network partners of agencies in solving human-trafficking problems, to strengthen the guidelines for the prevention and suppression of human trafficking to be sustainable, which will lead to an effective level of human trafficking situation in the TIP Report,” Mr Traiyarit said.
Thailand currently remains on the Tier 2 Watch List of the 2021 Trafficking in Persons Report released by the US State Department in July.
The report noted, “Corruption and official complicity facilitated trafficking and continued to impede anti-trafficking efforts. NGOs’ perceptions of corruption made them reluctant to work with the government or certain agencies in some cases. Some police may have purposely compromised investigations and failed to provide prosecutors sufficient evidence to prosecute trafficking cases. Some law enforcement officials were reluctant to investigate influential boat owners and captains, as well as other offenders who were or had connections to high-ranking government officials.”
However, the DSI was singled out for its stance against human trafficking.
“Observers reported DSI officers resisted intimidation by influential individuals connected to trafficking cases,” the TIP report said.
Mr Traiyarit highlighted the attendance of Pol Gen Thammasak Wicharaya, Deputy Secretary-General to the Prime Minister, and thanked him for his presentation on “Developing the Potential of Officers Working in the Prevention and Suppression of Human Trafficking”.
“The Department of Special Investigation absolutely gives importance to the prevention and suppression of human trafficking. It focuses on the suppression and prosecution of human trafficking offenders as a network of international organised crime, influential people, and government officials involved in human trafficking,” he said.
“In terms of protection, the DSI focus is on strengthening cooperation between government agencies and the private sector. in reporting incidents, reporting clues, or enhancing the body of knowledge to those involved to form a concrete partnership in the prevention of human trafficking offenses,” he concluded.