US State Dept. urged to downgrade Thailand on human trafficking report citing lack of progress in fishing & garment sectors

Author: Nanchanok Wongsamuth, Reuters, Published on: 14 March 2020

"U.S. urged to downgrade Thailand in annual human trafficking report", 11 March 2020

The U.S. State Department should downgrade Thailand in its annual report on human trafficking, rights groups said...citing the Southeast Asian nation's lack of progress in protecting fishing and garment workers.

Thailand had failed to provide sufficient evidence of increased efforts to combat severe forms of trafficking from the previous year, according to the Thai Seafood Working Group (SWG)....

"Thailand continues be a country where workers are abused and exploited," said Esmeralda Lopez...[of]...International Labour Rights Forum....

"This is particularly the case in the fishing and garment sectors."

[...]

The Thai government had made no progress in key areas, including the number of forced labor cases, labor inspections, assisting potential victims of trafficking, as well as addressing widespread debt bondage and the withholding of workers' travel documents, the report said.

The government had failed to protect workers and labor rights defenders who report abuse from retaliation, while migrant workers still do not have the legal right to organize and bargain collectively for better conditions, it added.

Thailand's anti-trafficking efforts improved significantly last year, especially in the fishing sector, said police lieutenant general Jaruvat Vaisaya, the country's top anti-trafficking cop.

[...]

A report published by the International Labour Organisation...found that changes in working conditions in Thailand's fishing and seafood industry are moving in the right direction but serious abuses persist.

Almost 10% of the 470 Thai, Burmese and Cambodian fishing and seafood workers surveyed said that they had been victims of forced labor, the report said.

"These findings would indicate that tens of thousands of workers in Thai fishing and processing are working in forced labor conditions. This is unacceptable," ILO researchers said in the report.

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