US: Thailand has work to do on fishing slave labor

The U.S. State Department is keeping Thailand at Tier 3 in its latest Trafficking in Persons Report, accusing the country of not doing enough to stem forced labor and other human rights abuses.

“The Government of Thailand does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking, and is not making significant efforts to do so. Thailand investigated and prosecuted some cases against corrupt officials involved in trafficking but trafficking-related corruption continued to impede progress in combating trafficking,” The department wrote in its report, published today.

Various media outlets have been reporting on forced labor in the Thai fishing industry, describing horrible conditions including forcibly keeping fishermen on boats for months, little or no pay and physical abuse. The new report said human trafficking exists in Thailand in multiple industries, but the department’s account of slave labor in the Thai fishing industry matched media accounts.

The department first downgraded Thailand to Tier 3, the lowest possible grade, in its annual report last year. Since then, the department has acknowledged Thailand has made some efforts to improve the situation, but a number of problems remain. Among them, the report cited “the prosecution of journalists and advocates for exposing traffickers,” along with a lack of interpreters for trafficking victims, many coming from neighboring Myanmar.

“The government also did not proactively identify many trafficking victims among fishing workers, or irregular migrants,” the department wrote.


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