The 2022 Trafficking in Persons (TIP) Report was released last week and we thought it might be helpful if we shared some of the key takeaways from the report with you. Here are some of the main themes.
From a Global Overview of the 2022 TIP Report
This year’s report, similarly to the 2021 report, appears to represent a slight shift in lens from emphasizing the nature of trafficking as a crime that requires building up community resilience, to emphasizing the observation that trafficking disproportionately affects vulnerable and marginalized communities and people. It also emphasizes the interconnectedness of issues of concern: for example, how forced labor and climate change are inter-related and how the Russia-Ukraine conflict not only impacts regional trafficking, it has consequences for trafficking globally.
This year’s report reiterates common themes, such as: China’s Belt and Road Initiative contributing to (or reliance on) forced labor, the need to improve and standardize data collection and management, the importance of survivor leadership throughout anti-trafficking policy making and procedures, and trauma-informed care. While COVID impacts featured prominently in last year’s report, reading between the lines, it appears that countries were given less of a pass this year and there was a stronger expectation that operations would have returned to normal or improved.
The biggest news regarding Thailand is that the country was upgraded to Tier 2 from the Tier 2 Watch List. The upgrade was issued for multiple reasons, the main ones including an increase in investigations and the construction of a new victim identification center supported by multidisciplinary teams, which aided in more victims being identified.
Some of the issues the report highlighted as continued challenges for Thailand included a decrease in the number of prosecutions and convictions and, especially, problems effectively identifying labor trafficking victims – such as those trafficked in forced labor on ships in the fishing industry, due to inconsistent or ineffective interviewing techniques. While the country has invested heavily in more trainings and the development of standard operating procedures–including numerous workshops and trainings for police, immigration officials, and labor officials on topics including victim identification, labor trafficking, online investigative techniques, and conducing forensic interviews, the report recommends continued investment in these trainings as knowledge and experience in anti-trafficking efforts is uneven. More training is necessary to bring all the relevant officials up to more uniform implementation in being able to identify trafficking cases and provide trauma-informed care to victims and survivors.
Other notable findings include:
- The government identified 414 trafficking victims in 2021 (compared to 231 in 2020 and 868 in 2019).
- The Thai Internet Crimes Against Child Task Force (TICAC) investigated 79 cases of internet crimes against children (compared to 94 cases in 2020 and 26 cases the year before).
- An estimated 177,000 Thai children, mostly boys, are employed in child labor
“More than half of these children are not in school, and many worked in hazardous conditions, with long and irregular working hours and were at risk of sexual exploitation. Some brokers or parents force children from Thailand, Cambodia, and Burma to sell flowers or other items in streets, beg, or work in domestic service in urban areas.” However, “despite reports traffickers exploited children in forced labor in various sectors, the government only identified two child labor trafficking victims in 2021.
- Authorities aided in the return of 245 Thais exploited abroad, including 13 sex trafficking victims and 232 labor trafficking victims
- The government also allocated about 4.46 billion baht ($133.53 million) towards trafficking prevention, a significant increase over the previous year. Government agencies conducted anti-trafficking awareness and prevention campaigns, including awareness trainings focused on the prevention of child sex trafficking and online child sexual exploitation.
Finally, Thai anti-trafficking professionals are very proud to congratulate a fellow Thai national recognized as a TIP hero. Ms. Apinya Tajit, Deputy Director of the Stella Maris Seafarer’s Center, is recognized for her service in support of workers in the Thai fishing industry, helping hundreds of works from a variety of Southeast Asian countries, as well as actively raising awareness about child trafficking. She travels to schools through the country, educating more than 10,000 students a year. She aids Thai authorities in victim identification and supports victims in societal reintegration. She also provides training to authorities to help improve knowledge of trafficker indicators for those exploited at sea.
We hope this provides you with a good summary of the key findings of interest from this year’s report. Stay tuned over the next few weeks, as we’ll also delve more deeply into several of the special focus areas from the TIP report, including forced labor in China, governments as traffickers, the role of climate change, and corruption.