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US State Dept Warns: Thailand Seafood Linked To Human Trafficking United States, June 24, 13

The Thai government is doing too little to stop tens of thousands of trafficking victims being forced into "modern slavery" in the sex trade, fishing related industries and domestic servitude in Thailand, the annual Trafficking in Persons (TIP) report by the US State Department has warned. The report makes no mention of the Thai tuna processing industry, but points mostly to practices in the country’s fishing industry. Most of Thailand’s tuna is imported and comes from foreign purse seiner fleets.

The US government report, which grades 188 countries and territories on their efforts to tackle trafficking, places Thailand on its Tier 2 watch list for a fourth consecutive year.

This means the Thai government is failing to comply with America’s minimum standards for eliminating trafficking and is yet to show sufficient evidence of increasing efforts to address the problem. The report describes Thailand as “a source, destination and transit country for men, women and children subjected to forced labor and sex trafficking”.

Thailand was granted a waiver from an automatic downgrade to Tier 3 this year, because the government has written a plan that could mean it soon meets the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking, if implemented.

But the country will not be eligible for another waiver in 2014, so has just one year to make progress on the issue.
In terms of victims who are trafficked for forced labour, the TIP report says significant numbers are being exploited in commercial fishing, echoing previous reports of Southeast Asian men being trafficked onto Thai fishing boats, where they remain at sea for several years, unpaid and beaten into working 18 to 20 hours per day, seven days a week.

It meanwhile highlights serious flaws in the identification of victims of trafficking and with prosecutions of traffickers and says corruption remains “widespread among Thai law enforcement personnel, creating an enabling environment for human trafficking to prosper”.

The government reported investigating 305 trafficking cases in 2012, compared to 83 in 2011, but initiated prosecutions in only 27 cases during the year and obtained just 10 convictions.