Thailand stands to be taken off US human-trafficking watchlist

Thailand stands to be taken off US human-trafficking watchlist
Armed police sailing towards a trafficking camp in Satun, southern Thailand.

Thailand's measures against human trafficking have improved, especially in the sugarcane farming and sugar-production industries, which might lead to the Kingdom being removed from the United States' watchlist, the Foreign Ministry said yesterday.

The other industries in Thailand, such as garments, shrimp-processing and fishery, are also "moving in a good direction" in accordance with the US policy against human trafficking, Department of American and South Pacific Affairs director-general Songsak Saicheua said.

Human trafficking includes abuse of local or migrant workers, use of child labour among others.

Representatives from several relevant agencies recently travelled to the US to submit reports about crackdowns and preventative measures taken by Thai authorities against the abuse of labourers as well as abduction or smuggling of migrant workers.

Songsak said the next step would be to establish a mechanism to coordinate the use of labour in the fishery industry as well as improve the welfare of workers.

The Labour Ministry said coordination centres for the fishery industry in seven coastal provinces were part of the overall improvement, which would allow registration of fishing trawlers and crew members while ensuring fair conditions for workers from Myanmar, Laos and Cambodia.

The operators of trawlers will be told not to take workers below the age of 16 on board, while those in 22 provinces, where employment of illegal migrant workers is rife, will be encouraged to have them registered by May 31, deputy permanent secretary Puntrik Smiti said.

Deputy national police chief Pol General Chatchawal Suksomjit said the police have been told to stop arresting illegal migrant workers in these 22 provinces before the May 31 deadline.

The Fishery Association of Thailand said that centres like those set up in seven provinces will be set up in the 22 provinces to facilitate the registration of workers..

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