Bangkok Post, 2 October 2015
The US Department of Labour has upgraded Thailand to the “significant advancement” category for child labour after efforts in recent years have made progress in thwarting the harmful practice.
The department on Wednesday released a report entitled Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labour 2014, which assessed the efforts of 140 countries worldwide to eliminate the worst forms of child labour, Labour Minister Gen Sirichai Dithakul said Thursday.
The report placed Thailand among 13 countries with significant advancement in 2014 in tackling child labour issues — the highest category countries can achieve, and an upgrade from 2013 when Thailand was ranked at moderate advancement level.
U.S. Department of Labor Report on 2014 Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor : Thailand Significant Advancement English and Thai
Lower rankings are the categories listed as “minimal advancement” and “no advancement”. According to the report, Thailand’s upgrade was due to key policy changes made by the government.
The government created a national policy committee in August 2014 to address issues related to human trafficking and migration. Because many children who are forced to work in Thailand are non-nationals, the move shows significant efforts on the part of the government to reduce child labour issues, it said.
In addition, the Labour Ministry amended its legal framework to raise the minimum age of workers in agriculture from 13-15 years old and in the fishing sector to 18 years old.
The government also funded programmes that aim to eliminate the worst forms of child labour — which includes sex work, illicit work such as drug trafficking and any job that puts a child at risk of physical abuse or could be hazardous to their health, such as operating heavy machinery, according to the International Labour Organisation.
The government’s national policy committee is “a proactive multi-disciplinary team responsible for child labour law enforcement”, says the report. It evaluated the national action plan for 2009-2014. The report recognises improved coordination between government agencies and other stakeholders to tackle child labour issues.
ML Puntarik Samiti, permanent secretary of the Ministry of Labour, attributed the upgrade to the national policy committee on migrant and human trafficking problems.
“That initiative reflects how hard the government is working to solve problems of child labour and human trafficking,” said ML Puntarik.
In an interview with the Voice of America (VOA) Thai Service, also on Thursday, Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha discussed the problem of human trafficking in Thailand and the United States’ decision to keep Thailand on Tier 3 of its Trafficking in Persons Report that was released in July this year. Gen Prayut admitted the country has failed to make sufficient efforts to eliminate human trafficking. The US had issued warnings on the matter for several years, but the previous government paid little attention, the premier said. Gen Prayut said his government is determined to end human trafficking, although this will take some time and will affect migrant workers, particularly those in the fishing industry, he added.