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Trafficking in persons is an urgent agenda

The Prime Minister has approved the work plans of the newly established 5 sub-committees to address the problem of human trafficking in all its forms. All concerned agencies have been directed to immediately implement their respective plans of action as well as submit monthly reports. The Prime Minister has reiterated that all human trafficking cases, particularly those involving government officials, must be appropriately and promptly prosecuted. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has been assigned to provide all relevant information on Thailand’s commitment to addressing human trafficking to the international community on a regular basis. The Royal Thai Government has declared the problem of human trafficking to be an urgent issue as Thailand places high priority on human rights.

On 7 January 2015, at Government House, the Prime Minister of Thailand presided over a meeting to address the problem of human trafficking in all its forms. Participating in the meeting were Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Defence General Prawit Wongsuwon, Deputy Prime Minister Yongyuth Yuthavong, other concerned Ministers and senior officials. Gist of the meeting is as follows:

The meeting approved the establishment of a Policy Committee to address the problems of human trafficking and illegal, unregulated, and unreported fishing (IUU) with the Prime Minister as committee chair, the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Defence as deputy chair, and committee members comprising 4  other Deputy Prime Ministers, the Ministers of Tourism and Sports, Social Development and Human Security, Agriculture and Cooperatives, Minister of Transport, Minister of Commerce, Minister of Interior, Minister of Justice, Minister of Labour, the Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, and the Commanders in Chief of the Royal Thai Army, Royal Thai Navy, Royal Thai Airforce and the Royal Thai Police. Minister of Social Development and Human Security will be secretary of the Committee.

The meeting also approved the components of 5 sub-committees as well as the sub-committees’ work plans. The 5 sub-committees are: 1) Sub-committee on suppression of trafficking in persons, with the Minister of Interior as chair; 2) the Sub-committee on Women, in the dimension of prevention and suppression of trafficking in persons, with the Minister of Social Development and Human Security as chair; 3) Sub-committee on child labor, forced labor, and migrant workers, with Minister of Labour as chair; 4) the Sub-committee on IUU Fishing, with the Minister of Agriculture and Cooperatives as chair; and 5) the Sub-committee on public relations and laws related to prevention and suppression of trafficking in persons, with the Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs as chair. The 5 sub-committees will be overseen and advised by Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Defence General Prawit Wongsuwon. They were also instructed by the Prime Minister to accelerate the implementation of their work plans, and submit both immediate and monthly reports to the Prime Minister.

The Prime Minister also called for the Sub-committee on IUU Fishing to expedite the establishment of a national work plan to prevent, hinder, and eradicate IUU Fishing by February 2015, complete the revision of Fisheries Law by the end of this month, accelerate the registration and issuance of permission to Thai fishing boats, as well as install vessel monitoring system (VMS) on all Thai fishing boats by February this year.

On cases related to violent exploitation of children in agricultural and fishery sectors, the Ministry of Labour has recently intensified its inspections and investigations and filed 7 lawsuits. The Ministry of Labour has also detected 1,264 work places that employ child labourers. More officials will be hired to broaden the coverage of inspection on work places and agricultural areas.

During the past year, over 300 cases of trafficking in persons have been prosecuted. The Prime Minister called for the prompt prosecution of those cases to finish as soon as possible, or by 15April 2015. In cases that the culprits are government officials, regardless of rank or level, they must also undergo criminal/ civil procedures in addition to disciplinary proceedings.

The Prime Minister also assigned concerned offices to expedited negotiastions with the neighboring countries on fishery related MOUs in an attempt to address the problems of human trafficking in fishery sector and IUU Fishing. Thailand stands ready to initiate collaboration with the neighboring countries in addressing those problems.

With regard to the decision of the US Government to drop Thailand to “Tier 3” in its annual Trafficking in Persons (TIP) report in 2014 (based on the performance of Thai Government during June 2013- April 2014), the Minister of Labour has submitted a report concerning progress undertaken by the Ministry of Labour on several issues. For instance, ministerial regulations have been revised to include protection of labour in agricultural and fishery sectors. The regulations were announced in the Royal Gazette on 22 December 2014 and 20 December 2014 respectively. According to the regulations, child workers must be no less than 15 years old in the agricultural sector and 18 years old in fishing industry; a written working contract is compulsory; and labourers must have appropriate days off and be properly remunerated without any financial penalty, as well as other conditions which comply with the standards which have been set for the elimination of trafficking. Drafting of work contracts in Thai, English, Khmer, Lao, and Myanmar has been completed, and the Ministry is now establishing centers for management of labour in the fishing industry in 22 coastal provinces. Collaboration with NGO and employers has also been intensified, and law enforcement to protect vulnerable victims was also tightened up, according to the policy of National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO). The Ministry of Labour has also activated telephone hotlines 1546 and 1694 as additional services to provide protection of migrant workers, with the interpreters in Myanmar and Khmer in place. Registration has been made for over 1.6 million migrant workers, while the remaining are awaiting verification of citizenship.

Lastly, the meeting discussed progress on the executive summary which is to be compiled by the Ministry of Social Development and Human Security, in collaboration with concerned offices, and will list resolutions and achievements involved with addressing the problem of trafficking in persons. The summary will be communicated to the US Department of State within 30 January 2015. The Prime Minister emphasised that the report be made in a factual and tangible manner. Issues that need further attention (if any) must also be acknowledged and reported on, including how such further attention has been addressed, by whom and when. In providing information to the US, the summary must cover key achievements based on the standard of 5Ps: Policy and Mechanism, Prosecution, Protection, Prevention, and Partnership and International Cooperation. The Prime Minister reiterated that the Royal Thai Government has placed top priority in addressing trafficking in persons in all dimensions to ensure all are protected based on human rights, and are thus able to live their lives with safety and human dignity. He also called for all concerned agencies to work on their respective assignments in order to make quick and tangible progress with regards to the suppression and elimination of human trafficking in Thailand.

The Prime Minister also assigned Ministry of Foreign Affairs to be responsible for public relations and collaborating with foreign governments, international organizations, and NGOs in addressing the problem of trafficking in persons. The Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Mr. Don Pramudwinai is scheduled to make a press conference on overall achievements of Thailand in addressing the problem of trafficking in persons at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Further information on the press conference can be obtained at the Department of Information, Ministry of Foreign Affairs.



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