News

  • November 10, 2016

Trends in the News on Trafficking

We’re breaking with our traditional format of relating the news to highlight an interesting trend in reporting on the news about trafficking, especially in regards to Thailand/Southeast Asia. In the past few months, there has been a growing narrative on the relationship between trafficking, human rights norms, and international trade and cooperation.

Increasingly, human rights considerations and the prevalence of human trafficking concerns are becoming a standard part of trade negotiations and international cooperation. Nations are expected to revise national laws to meet international standards or risking losing trade privileges due to noncompliance. As Sumano reports in the Bangkok Post, “Pressured by the new trade landscape, governments can no longer focus on economic prosperity without addressing social development through the promotion of fundamental human rights.”

In response to increased scrutiny over its trafficking record, Thailand became the third country in ASEAN to ratify a new convention on human trafficking. It’s the region’s first legally binding commitment to combatting trafficking, and it underscores the Thai government’s dedication to working in concert with other nations to eradicate the problem. (Source: The Diplomat)

However, there is some concern that while the pressure from trade deals highlights human rights abuses and encourages compliance with international standards, especially within the seafood industry, it allows other forms of human trafficking (such as child trafficking, etc.) to fly under the radar. Human rights organizations have been skeptical of the US’s move to upgrade Thailand’s TIP status, fearing the move has been made too soon, perhaps for political reasons to counterbalance against China’s growing influence. (Source: ASEAN Today)

In Other News

U.S. prosecutors are collaborating with Thai police to prosecute a major case against a large international sex trafficking ring, where hundreds of Thai women were brought to the U.S., promised lucrative jobs, and sold as sex slaves in cities as diverse as Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Dallas, Phoenix, Minneapolis, and Washington. The accused include 17 Thai nationals and 5 Americans. (Source: Bangkok Post) This highlights the growing relationship between American and Thai law enforcement agencies to prosecute cases in both nations and collaborate to fight trafficking. (Source: FBI)

NGOs fighting trafficking in Vietnam are arguing that prevention programs that focus on “raising awareness” alone, without any efforts to fight root causes, are not sufficient, especially with endemic corruption permitting trafficking to continue. (Source: ASEAN Today)

Cambodian trafficking victims are suing U.S. seafood importers and their Thai suppliers that they allege have been complicit in slave-like working conditions. (Source: VOA News)

Young Cambodian filmmakers have teamed up with human trafficking survivors to produce short films based on true-life events. The Chaktomuk Short Film Festival will highlight several films touching on issues such as migrant workers’ rights and how families must cope when a member leaves in search of work. Trafficking survivors have not only contributed their stories, but have also partaken in some of the acting. (Source: Cambodia Daily)