Thai Delegation Visits Washington D.C., Discusses Anti-Human Trafficking and Forced Labor Efforts.


A Thai multi-agency delegation visited Washington D.C. last week to discuss with the U.S. side on efforts to combat human trafficking in Thailand. The mission aims to build better understanding among U.S. officials prior to the launch of the U.S. Department of State’s TIP Report this year.


The delegation comprising representatives from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA), Royal Thai Police (RTP), Ministry of Labor (MOL), Ministry of Social Development and Human Security (MSDHS), and a civil society organization traveled to Washington D.C. last week to meet with various agencies, including the State Department’s Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons.


Seeking cooperation in combating human trafficking

Mr. Chettaphan Maksamphan, Director-General of Department of American and South Pacific Affairs, MFA, said this trip was aimed to expand coordination and increase cooperation on anti0-human trafficking with the U.S. side.


“Ensuring the understanding is part of the mission, along with many other important tasks, but the main goal is to work with the United States on the prevention and suppression of human trafficking, which is the issue of utmost importance for the United States. The Thai government also considers this issue a national agenda. In fact, we see human trafficking as a universal problem that has become more severe, especially the online trafficking..


.. Therefore, no one country can solve this alone. It requires cooperation with countries in the region and other global partners..” Director-General Chettaphan said.


Thailand raises anti-human trafficking standards


In the 2022 TIP Report, Thailand was ranked in Tier 2, an upgrade from Tier 2 Watch List last year. This reflects the significant efforts of both public and private sectors to solve the problem. For this year, the delegation stated that the efforts to further improve are still ongoing in many areas.

“They [The U.S. Government] attaches great importance to the victims, while effort to increase survivor engagement have increased. In the past, this may have been approached only from law enforcement’s point of view. However, now we believe that to solve the problems in a comprehensive manner requires survivor engagement. It will tremendously help with preventing future cases. This is something that we and the U.S. side are on the same page. We have prioritized [victims/survivors] and made significant progress..


Director-General Chettaphan continued “..On other issues, of course, there has been an increase in numbers (case initiated), speedy prosecution process, serious actions have been taken against the complicit officials. They have seen that we continue to be serious about this and have made significant progress in all fronts, which, I think, is very important. Hope the assessment will continue to improve. We may not reach Tier 1 yet, but should still maintain the Tier 2 status – the Tier 2 with significant development, which eventually, will lead to Tier 1 in the future..”


RTP Deputy Commissioner-General on legal amendment and taking serious actions


One of the most critical developments that has helped elevate the anti-human trafficking efforts is the effective law enforcement and legal amendments.


“We have amended a number of legal measures, especially on asset forfeiture. Also, keep in mind that human trafficking crimes are all connected. We find Human trafficking in call center cases, online scamming, drug trafficking, and fisheries crime. They are all connected, especially with the development of online technology.


Pol.Gen. Surachate Hakparn, RTP Deputy Commissioner-General, further explained the progress made on the amendment of relevant laws and regulations.


“At present, we have amended the law on asset seizure in order to prosecute the money laundering and tax fraud cases. First is to confiscate assets of the perpetrators, no matter who they transfer to. This will ensure the elimination of traffickers’ resources to commit more crimes. Second is the amendment that allows all assets seizure to be allocated to the victims as remedies. This is in line with victim-centric and trauma-informed approach that the U.S. also highlights..


Pol.Gen. Surachate reiterated that despite the continuous efforts to effectively crackdown on human trafficking and the increasing number of arrests, the ultimate goal is to enhance cooperation to eliminate human trafficking.


“..Situation in each country is different. Thailand also has our own challenges. We could take the good examples from other countries, like the United States, as guidelines. Therefore, instead of aiming at being upgraded all the time, we have to focus on how to eradicate human trafficking, child exploitation, and labor abuse. And if we keep up the good work, we will eventually reach Tier  1″.

Partnering with the U.S. against trafficking in the region


Pol.Gen. Surachate also mentioned the proposal for the U.S. government to partner with Thailand to combat human trafficking in the region.


“The main thing I requested from the U.S. government is that we want to partner with them, which does not only mean submitting the annual reports. It is important to work together as a group, as partners, who complement each other. Today we have addressed all 14 recommendations made by the U.S. Therefore, to move forward together, the U.S. could look at Thailand as having a central role in ASEAN.”


The annual Trafficking in Persons Report (TIP Report) is a U.S. government research and diplomacy tool. It presents the most comprehensive information on governments’ efforts to combat human trafficking. The Report does not only assess the progress of government measures and policies, but also offers strategies to help eliminate the trafficking crimes, including victim protection. The 2022 report, which is the 22nd annual report, comprise information of 188 countries and territories, including the United States.