Prawit says Thailand should be upgraded in US human trafficking report

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Deputy Prime Minister Prawit Wongsuwan said on Wednesday that he is confident Thailand will be upgraded back to Tier 2 of the US Trafficking in Persons (TIP) Report in 2022.

The country was demoted from Tier 2 to Tier 2 Watchlist in 2021.

“The results from all the anti-trafficking efforts showed the government’s clear intention to prevent and suppress human trafficking activities,” Prawit said while presiding over a meeting of the state committee on the prevention and suppression of human trafficking at government house.

“I believe that Thailand should be promoted to Tier 2 in 2022,” he said.

Prawit said the number of trafficking investigations increased from 133 cases in 2020 to 188 cases between April 2021 and March 2022, despite the outbreak of Covid-19 over the past two years.

He said government agencies have accomplished all 15 recommendations from the 2021 US TIP Report. The government also set up four flagship projects including:

  • New procedures to detect forced labor and provide aid for trafficking victims
  • A trafficking victims screening centre with a system that connects to the international human trafficking database
  • A training centre against human trafficking with a focus on fighting syndicates
  • New proactive procedures to protect children from child worker abuse

According to the 2021 Trafficking in Persons Report, one of the reasons that the country was downgraded to Tier 2 Watchlist was because “the Government of Thailand does not fully meet the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking but is making significant efforts to do so.”

“Corruption and official complicity continued to impede anti-trafficking efforts, and the government convicted five complicit officials in 2020. Therefore Thailand was downgraded to Tier 2 Watch List,” the report added.

Human rights organizations say that human trafficking is still a major problem in Thailand because some state officials are involved with transnational traffickers despite recent efforts.

Human Rights Watch said in a statement in July 2020 that this included a reluctance to investigate wrongdoers that have connections with politicians.

Prawit himself was last month accused of interfering with an investigation into a mass graves of Rohingya migrants in Songkhla in 2015. Police Major General Paween Pongsirin, who was the country’s leading investigator in human trafficking, said he had to leave the country after exposing the trafficking ring due to threats on his life.

Last week, officials uncovered a child prostitution ring in Surat where three officials from the Ministry of Social Development and Human Security were allegedly involved.

One of the accused was a deputy director of the Department of Children and Youth.

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