Government mapping out new anti-trafficking agenda

Thailand’s government is preparing a new escalation in its war against human trafficking, with the Deputy Prime Minister in charge of national security vowing to achieve further progress before the end of the government’s term, confirmed Deputy Prime Minister Prawit Wongsuwan after a meeting on labor rights protection with senior officials at the Ministry of Labor last week.

Earlier this year, the United States raised Thailand to Tier 2 Watchlist in recognition that the government has taken significant and wide-ranging measures to improve the situation.

Prawit said the Ministry of Labor should work with the Office of the Civil Service Commission in order to increase the number of labor inspectors. A shortage of inspectors results in not all workers being protected and abusive employers escaping detection and punishment.

He also urged the officials to contribute to efforts to upgrade and improve laws, especially those relating to the fishing industry for the benefits of Thais and migrant workers.

Fishing industry is arguably the industry where most trafficking victims are found. That situation is not unique as victims have also been found among fishing fleets from a number of nations.

The government has instituted port-in/port-out inspections and required larger vessels to have tracking systems so the authorities can trace their movements. Thailand’s fishing fleets are huge, however, and more inspectors are needed to help close any gaps in the system.

In addition, large players in the industry, such as Thai Union, have moved most operations in-house to prevent their supply chains from being tainted by trafficked labor among third-party suppliers.

They have also joined groups such as the Shrimp Sustainability Task Force, an alliance of seafood companies, U.S.-based retailers, civil society groups and international agencies such as the International Labor Organization in an effort to clean up supply chains and ensure the industry is free from trafficking and labor abuse.

For more information and updates about Thailand’s policies and actions against trafficking in persons and related issues, visit