In our last post, we shared about the US State Department’s latest Trafficking in Persons Report. If you missed it, be sure to check it out to get the key takeaways from the report in general. Today, we’re going to take a closer look at the key takeaways from the TIP Report’s Thailand profile.
Here are the key takeaways about anti-trafficking efforts in Thailand
The biggest takeaway is that Thailand remains on Tier 2, which is the second highest ranking for efforts in counter trafficking. The report recognizes Thailand’s significant efforts to meet the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking. Penalties for trafficking are sufficiently stringent and similar to those assigned for other serious crimes such as rape.
The Southeast Asian country is recognized for its efforts to:
- Increase trafficking investigations, prosecutions, and convictions
- Investigate 35 allegedly complicit officials, resulting in the imprisonment of 4
- Identify more trafficking victims
- Implement a new national referral mechanism, which should improve identification processes
- Train officials on the new national referral system
- Provide numerous anti-trafficking awareness and prevention campaigns aimed to prevent child sex trafficking and online child sexual exploitation via social media and in schools
- Collaborate with government agencies, the private sector, and civil society organizations to implement a project in hotels to identify and prevent child sexual exploitation in the tourism sector.
The issues which the report highlights as requiring strengthening include:
- Developing greater consistency and effectiveness in interviews during labor inspections to improve victim identification
- Providing greater protections for victims exploited in cyber scam operations in neighboring countries
- Apply a victim-centered approach to victims of cyber scams to avoid inappropriate detention or penalty for unlawful acts committed while trafficked
- Provide more victim services such as language interpreters, visas to allow work in Thailand until the completion of proceeding against traffickers, and increased freedom of movement for victims.
Some other notable remarks include the need for greater training for officials in recognizing victims. For example, it was noted that in some provinces, the “zero tolerance” approach to trafficking created perverse incentives, causing reluctance to investigate cases. Another issue is that there is frequent turnover amongst officers experienced in counter-trafficking to those less experienced. However, training is being included in the cadet curriculum and there are a variety of further efforts to improve training as well as regional cooperation.
Key Takeaways for The Freedom Story
While more traditional forms of trafficking, such as child sex trafficking and forced labor in the fishing industry, persist, a growing concern is the trafficking of people to be forced to commit cyber scam operations. There is still so much to learn about how it’s happening and how to effectively intercept potential victims before it happens. As the situation evolves, it will take time to get all the various counter-trafficking agents up to speed on effective victim identification and protection. Prosecution could be challenging when traffickers are in other countries.
All this means that large numbers of people will continue to be targeted as victims, but if they are trafficked, it is still challenging to ensure they get the help they need. As an organization devoted to prevention, we believe it’s essential to keep spreading the word that the crisis is happening and to inform people about being very wary about seemingly to good to be true job offers inviting people to work in call centers, hospitality, phone operators, IT jobs, digital sales and marketing, cryptocurrency negotiation, or similar industries.
It’s tragic that so many people lost jobs or became more financially insecure due to the pandemic and its effects. It’s even more unjust for traffickers to capitalize on those vulnerabilities to subject people to even more pain – including torture and death threats – for traffickers’ profit. And the victimization goes even further to drain other vulnerable people – those who are lonely or otherwise susceptible to financial scams – of their resources via romance or investment fraud. We all need to keep spreading the word to protect each other until greater, global protections come into place.