EJF issues new human rights abuses report


SeafoodSource staff

Published on
September 25, 2013

The nonprofit advocacy group Environmental Justice Foundation (EJF) has issued a new report on human rights abuses in the Thai seafood industry, this time focusing on workers in shrimp processing.

The EJF made headlines in May, when it released a report, “Sold to the Sea,” http://www.seafoodsource.com/newsarticledetail.aspx?id=20832 detailing human trafficking, forced labor, imprisonment and murder of workers on Thai fishing vessels.

Now, the group has introduced a new report, “The Hidden Cost: Human Rights Abuses in Thailand’s Shrimp Industry,” which looks at the shrimp processing industry.

The report alleges human trafficking of migrant workers, withholding of pay, forced detention, bonded labor and other abuses.

The report includes interviews with five former workers at a pre-processing factory owned by a captain in the Royal Thai Police. The workers described being forced into 16-hour shifts, with many workers, including children, peeling shrimp and extracting excrement until 8 p.m. daily.

“The Thai authorities are aware of human trafficking into the shrimp industry and that enforcement agencies are failing to protect vulnerable workers,” said Steve Trent, EJF’s executive director. "Worse, we believe that our research and that of others now clearly shows that the exploitation of labor in this way is a central part of an economic model that is driving cheap cash exports to Western markets.”

Trent said he hopes the EJF report will prompt Western countries who are importing shrimp from Thailand to add pressure to the Thai government to do more to control the problem.

“There are no excuses for the failure of Thai authorities and companies to act and they must be called to account,” he said. “In the 21st century food produced by slavery, forced, bonded and trafficked labour should not be on our plates.”

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