Thailand’s Trafficking in Persons Progress Report: January – March 2015 clearly demonstrates the Thai government’s steadfast commitment to fighting human trafficking of all forms, which yielded concrete results within the three-month timeframe.
Deputy Foreign Minister Don Pramudwinai, in his capacity as Chairman of the National Sub-Committee on Public Relations and Legal Affairs, under the Policy Committee on Human Trafficking and Illegal Fishing, spoke about the report at a press conference, held on 31 March 2015.
According to the report, significant progress and tangible results based on information gathered in 2014 include arrests made in two networks of trafficking for prostitution, three networks of trafficking for forced labor, and one network of trafficking/smuggling Rohingyas and money laundering. Eight additional officials involved in human trafficking and illegal exploitation have been prosecuted.
Authorities have also begun official investigation into cases pertaining to the Indonesian island of Benjina, with three persons already arrested on human trafficking charges and ongoing probes into other suspects. Over 150 Thai workers have been rescued by multi-disciplinary team efforts in collaboration with NGOs and the Indonesian government.
Important work plans include the implementation of new and revised laws, such as the recently-approved Amendment to the Anti-Human Trafficking Act B.E. 2551 (2008), which imposes harsher penalties on human traffickers, improves inspections and better protects witnesses. Traffickers could face up to life imprisonment and a maximum fine of 400,000 baht, nearly triple the original level. Authorities will also have the power to halt operations and immediately suspend licenses of business found to be involved in human trafficking.
A new Fisheries Act and a key piece of labor regulation have also become effective in April 2015 to improve official oversight and monitoring and surveillance system. A human trafficking database for legal proceedings has now been put in place. Human Trafficking prosecution is also being fast-tracked in related agencies.
The Government has initiated measures to solve the problem at the root cause and mitigate risks in the long term. Five Special Economic Zones along Thailand’s border have also been set up. Capacity building is regularly provided for officials dealing with human trafficking. Centers to Solve Human Trafficking Problems for Women and Children have also been established to enhance victim protection and care.
The report says that the Royal Thai Government gives utmost importance to combating human trafficking. Most importantly, the Government stands ready to cooperate with all stakeholders in suppressing human trafficking. The authorities would welcome information from the private sector, civil society and the media that could provide leads into further investigations and prompt apprehension of perpetrators.
The Progress Report will be submitted to the United States.