Concern Over US's Upgrading of Thailand to Tier 2 Watch List

The Fish Site
by The Fish Site
8 July 2016, at 1:00am

US - The US State Department has upgraded Thailand to Tier 2 Watch List of its annual human trafficking index after two years on Tier 3.

Earlier this year, the Environmental Justice Foundation (EJF) made the case that Thailand needed to remain on Tier 3 of the Trafficking in Persons Report for making insufficient progress in eradicating human trafficking from its seafood industry.

EJF has acknowledged that the Royal Thai Government (RTG) 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, substantial shortcomings still exist and the RTG’s new legislation has not achieved substantial progress in eliminating severe forms of trafficking compared to the previous year.

The RTG has in particular failed to:

  1. 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 the use of trafficking, forced, bonded and slave labour;
  2. 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;
  3. Develop and implement reforms of its labour regulations to improve the recruitment of migrant workers and enhance worker protection mechanisms;
  4. Establish effective working mechanisms to identify and screen victims of exploitation and abuse in ports or on board fishing vessels;
  5. Adopt a victim-centred approach towards those who have escaped or who have been rescued from trafficking, forced and bonded labour.

EJF now worries that Thailand’s higher ranking could inhibit and disincentivise further progress towards effectively addressing these abuses.