EJF calls for Thailand to remain on Tier 3 in 2016 US Department of State Trafficking in Persons Report
As the US Department of State is about to publish its 2016 Trafficking in Persons Report, EJF strongly believes that Thailand needs to remain on Tier 3 for making insufficient progress in eradicating human trafficking in its seafood industry.
Before the end of June, the U.S. Government is expected to publish the principal diplomatic tool used to engage foreign Governments on human trafficking. Each year, the Trafficking in Persons Report (TIP)sets the standard for reporting on Government efforts to combat trafficking worldwide.
EJF acknowledges that the Royal Thai Government (RTG) has introduced in 2015 important legislative frameworks to strengthen its fisheries management regime and has acted on intelligence provided by Civil Society Organisations to combat trafficking and identify victims of human trafficking. However, significant shortcomings continue to exist and the RTG has not achieved substantial progress in eliminating severe forms of trafficking compared to the previous year.
The RTG has in particular failed to:
- Pro-actively implement forensic investigations and enforcement action to gather evidence over time with the specific aim of initiating prosecutions and convictions against those engaged in trafficking, forced, bonded and slave labour;
- Successfully prosecute and convict Thai nationals involved in human trafficking on the scale and to the extent required to reflect the magnitude of the problem in Thailand;
- Develop and implement reforms of its labour regulations to improve the recruitment of migrant workers and enhance worker protection mechanisms;
- Establish effective working mechanisms to identify and screen victims of exploitation and abuse in port or on-board of fishing vessels;
- Adopt a victim-centred approach towards those who have escaped or who have been rescued from trafficking, forced and bonded labour.
As a result of these failings, EJF calls for Thailand to remain on Tier 3 for a third year.
“The US State Department’s Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons has played a vital leadership role in the global fight against human trafficking. By maintaining the ranking of Thailand on Tier 3 in 2015 for its failure to adequately address human trafficking, the US have demonstrated their clear determination and commitment to help combat this appalling crime. Our recommendation to leave Thailand on Tier 3 is based on the outcomes of our field investigations, which routinely demonstrate that slavery remains an integral part of the Thai seafood industry’s business model and of their international supply chains. We hope that the 2016 Report will signal to the RTG that substantive actions and reforms are still required for Thailand to be considered compliant with the minimum standards of combatting human trafficking”. EJF’s Executive Director, Steve Trent
Thailand was downgraded from Tier 2 to Tier 3 –its lowest rank- for the first time in the 2014 Trafficking in Persons Report, following a series of reports and exposés by EJF, other civil society groups and the media documenting the systemic use of modern-day slavery in Thailand’s seafood industry, including child and forced labour, forced detention, extreme violence and murder.
A year later, the US Department of State concluded that the RTG did not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking, and was not making significant efforts to do so. As a result, the 2015 Trafficking in Persons Report placed Thailand on Tier 3 for a second year.