Thailand first in Asia to ratify ILO Forced Labor protocol
Thailand became the first nation in Asia to sign on to the United Nations’ fight against modern day slavery, officially ratifying the International Labor Organization’s (ILO) Protocol of 2014 to the Forced Labor Convention, earning the Kingdom praise for its perseverance in battling human trafficking and labor abuse from the ILO chief.
“I am pleased to receive this instrument of ratification, which bears witness to the commitment of Thailand to combat forced labor,’’ said ILO Director-General Guy Ryder after receiving the documents at the agency’s headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland on June 4th. By standard procedure, the protocol will come into force one year after ratification. “Thailand’s commitment marks one more step towards the objective of 50 ratifications of the Protocol by the end of 2018, as promoted by the ‘50forfreedom” campaign,’ ” Ryder added.
The ILO director-general’s praise contributed to a growing global recognition of Thailand’s efforts to eliminate human trafficking, forced labor and labor abuse. The Thai government has launched a comprehensive campaign against trafficking and abuse that it believes is sustainable and is based on what is morally right. Positive results have included serious legal reforms, robust enforcement and prosecutions, and protection and assistance to victims.
The ILO also praised other actions taken by Thailand as part of its war on labor abuse and trafficking. “At the national level, Thailand has continued to reinforce its legislation and institutions to combat forced labor including trafficking in persons, particularly through the amendment to its Anti-Trafficking Act to provide for enhanced penalties for trafficking offences.
“Measures taken by the government to strengthen law enforcement bodies, including enhancing their capacity to identify victims of trafficking; the establishment by legislation of different complaints mechanisms for victims of trafficking, as well as the signing of a certain number of MOUs with source countries in the region to tackle trafficking in persons,’’ the U.N. agency said.
The protocol is the second ILO convention ratified by Thailand during the past 12 months, and the 18th overall. The Kingdom ratified the original Forced Labor Convention in 1969. The 2014 Protocol updates and bolsters the earlier convention to take into account today’s problems and changing conditions. Thailand is the 24th country to ratify the 2014 Protocol, but the first in Asia.
The Thai government has said it also plans on ratifying the ILO Work in Fishing Convention and two other conventions on collective bargaining and the right to organize for both national and migrant workers.
By ratifying all the conventions Thailand would send a credible and powerful message to the international community that the country is firmly committed to eliminating human trafficking, forced labor and other forms of exploitation from its fishing industry, according to Steve Trent, executive director of the Environmental Justice Foundation, who spoke with The Maritime Executive website.
“My government’s decision to ratify the Protocol of 2014 to the Forced Labor Convention, 1930 reflects its strong political will to join forces with the global community to eradicate forced labor,” said Adul Sangsingkeo, Thailand’s Minster of Labor.
The ILO said that there are an estimated 24.9 million victims of forced labor throughout the world, of whom 4.8 million are victims of sexual exploitation. In the private sector, forced labor produces $150 billion in illegal profits every year.