Thailand was yesterday downgraded to the lowest level in the US State Department's annual Trafficking in Persons (TIP) report - a move that could trigger sanctions by the United States.
After years of warnings, the US named and shamed Thailand, Malaysia and Venezuela, dumping them at the bottom of a list of countries accused of failing to tackle modern-day slavery, AFP reported from Washington.
Thailand had been on Tier 2 watchlist for four years for poor law enforcement before it dropped to the lowest rung - Tier 3.
The three countries, plus Gambia, found themselves added to a nations such as Iran, North Korea and Syria, which have already been languishing on the lowest tier of the State Department's annual report into human trafficking.
"We each have a responsibility to make this horrific and all-too-common crime a lot less common," US Secretary of State John Kerry wrote in the 2014 TIP report, denouncing what he called "the evil of human trafficking".
Tens of thousands of the world's trafficking victims end up in Thailand as migrants from neighbouring countries "who are forced, coerced, or defrauded into labour or exploited in the sex trade", the report said. The TIP survey was carried out before the military coup.
"Anti-trafficking law enforcement efforts remained insufficient compared with the size of the problem in Thailand, and corruption at all levels hampered the success of these efforts," the report said.
Earlier yesterday, the Commerce Ministry set up a working panel on trade and labour to increase efficiency in solving labour and related trade problems. Srirat Rasrapana, permanent secretary at the ministry, said the panel was made up of representatives from government, plus the public and private sectors.
"All sectors are waiting for the US [anti-trafficking] report. Thailand will move forward to solve labour problems no matter what the report comes out with. The committee will be a deep trilateral collaboration and will show Thailand's seriousness in resolving the [people smuggling] problem," he said.
The new working committee will raise efficiency in countering illegal labour and clearly communicate its unity with the international community in doing this. The panel will also support the work of the National Council for Peace and Order's committee on illegal migrant workers.