Thailand pledged to solve its human trafficking problems after the US kept the country in the Tier 2 Watch List of its 2012 human trafficking report.
Foreign minister Surapong Tovichakchaikul yesterday said Thailand will discuss its anti-human trafficking action plan with related agencies. He is certain the situation will improve next year.
For the third consecutive year, Thailand failed to budge from the Tier 2 Watch List of the US State Department report, released on Tuesday.
The three-tier system’s Tier 2 ranking, referred to in international media as a kind of “purgatory” for countries with severe human trafficking problems, is reserved for states that fail to meet minimum standards in combating human trafficking but are making significant efforts to do so.
The report aims to spur governments around the world to bring human traffickers to justice, identify victims and carry out anti-trafficking measures.
Surapong said the government submitted a report on March 29 informing the US about Thailand’s implementation of anti-trafficking measures.
Surapong said he was confident that the report saved Thailand from slipping further down to the third tier, the lowest ranking, which could have opened up the possibility of US sanctions.
“The US has ranked Thailand in its Tier 2 Watch List for human trafficking in the past two years. Had we not submitted the report to clarify our actions, the US might have downgraded Thailand to its Tier 3 Watch List in this year’s report,” the foreign minister said.
He said that if the country was downgraded to Tier 3, the US would cut off many types of assistance to Thailand.
Surapong conceded that the country’s human trafficking record is worrying.
Only three countries in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations _ Malaysia, Thailand and Myanmar _ were ranked in Tier 2 in the report.
Permanent Secretary for Labour Somkiat Chayasriwong also expressed concern that Thailand has been on the Tier 2 Watch List for three years.
In a bid to improve Thailand’s anti-human trafficking ranking, the Department of Labour Protection and Welfare is drafting a standard job description for crewmen on fishing boats in order to solve widespread abuse of labour.
Somkiat said the job description will inform job seekers of the duties they can expect to undertake on board fishing boats so that they will not be misled by traffickers and become victims of human trafficking.
Labour authorities also plan to appoint naval officers as labour inspectors to closely monitor working conditions on fishing boats.