EJF: Thailand still flunking on human trafficking in fishing industry

It’s been eight months since the U.S. State Department downgraded Thailand to Tier 3 on its annual Trafficking In Persons report, and now one of the Thai fishing industry’s strongest critics on the subject is saying Thailand does not deserve better marks yet.

The Environmental Justice Foundation (EJF) has issued a new briefing outlining its case to the state department to keep Thailand on Tier 3, the lowest possible grade, for a second year in a row, when it issues its new report in June.

In its latest presentation, the EJF is accusing the Thai government of, among other things, lax enforcement of laws to prevent human rights abuses, a lack of effort to stop labor brokers who seek out unsuspecting immigrants to be targeted for slave labor and a lack of effort in identifying and helping victims of human rights abuses in the Thai fishing sector who escaped or were rescued from their captors.

“After four years on the Tier 2 Watch List and one year on Tier 3, global leadership from the US Government and a wealth of evidence and advice from NGOs, the Royal Thai Government is still failing to take the action needed to prevent trafficking and human rights abuses in the fishing industry,” said Steve Trent, executive director of EJF. “Nothing that we have seen or heard in the last year indicates that Thailand has taken meaningful action to address the root causes of trafficking and abuse.”

The EJF has been calling for changes in the industry and the Thai government since 2013, when the group first presented the findings of its own investigation, which showed many immigrants had been fooled into joining fishing boat crews, then kept at sea for months on end under inhumane conditions. Some accounts indicate that workers who protested too much were beaten and in extreme cases murdered on board.


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