Police poised to launch new anti-trafficking blitz
Building on an impressive wave of arrests during the second half of 2015, the Anti-Human Trafficking Division of the Royal Thai Police is preparing to release a new list of 100 trafficking suspects to government offices around the nation as reports emerged that migrant Cambodian workers are still turning to shady brokers in their country to find jobs in Thailand.
“We hope to catch as many suspects from human trafficking rings as we can this year,” said Police General KornchaiKlayklueng, the newly appointed head of the Anti-Human Trafficking Division.
Kornchai said traffickers were blackening Thailand’s international reputation and hurting its economy. Thailand was ranked in the bottom tier in the last annual Trafficking in Persons Report issued by the United States Department of States. And revelations of human trafficking and labor abuse in the Kingdom’s fishing and seafood industries have some overseas companies refusing to source seafood from the Kingdom. The European Union has also threatened a ban on Thai seafood imports unless the Kingdom cleans up the sector.
The government of Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha has been responding vigorously to the warnings and criticisms related to human trafficking and labor abuse. He has designated the fight against human trafficking to the status of a national priority and vowed that no one involved will be protected, no matter how high his or her rank or to whom they are connected.
His government launched a wide-ranging set of measures to crack down on trafficking that include actions on policy, prevention, prosecution, protection and partnerships. Those working in the fight against human trafficking have been addressing each point raised by the United States report in order to mount a more effective campaign.
Among the actions taken have the arrests of over 100 suspected traffickers including high-ranking members of the military, police, local politicians and bureaucrats, among others. Laws have also been amended and greater protections and services provided for victims and those at risk. The authorities are working with civil society groups and international agencies, such as the International Labor Organization, to fine tune and improve their response.
This week, Thai authorities will submit a progress report to the U.S. State Department as U.S. officials prepare to begin their annual assessment in preparation for the 2016 Trafficking in Persons Report, which is usually published around the middle of the year.
“There is progress as we fight illegal fishing, human trafficking, child labor and prostitution,” said Deputy Prime Minister PrawitWongsuwan, who oversees security affairs.
But the authorities recognize that gaps still exist and they will work to address them. Reports surfaced last week that, despite the government having set up centers for foreign migrant workers to register and work legally in the Kingdom, some in Cambodia were still turning to local brokers to help them find jobs in Thailand.
Some Cambodian and Myanmar brokers work with human trafficking gangs to prey on migrants seeking work in the Kingdom.
For more information and updates about Thailand’s policies and actions against trafficking in persons and related issues, visitwww.thaianti-humantraffickingaction.org