A government plan to hire 50,000 Bangladeshi workers to tackle labour shortages in the fishing industry could worsen human trafficking in Thailand, the Labour Rights Promotion Network (LPN) warned last yesterday.
It advised the government to first resolve problems by legalising the vast number of unregistered migrant workers.
Meanwhile, police from the Anti-Human Trafficking Division (AHTD) said crackdowns on human traffickers had resulted in about 85 arrests every month in the first half of this year.
LPN director Sompong Srakaew urged the government to think twice about bringing Bangladeshis in, saying they had a different culture and lifestyle to migrants Thais were familiar with and it could lead to forced labour and worsen human-trafficking problems.
He urged the government to understand that trafficking takes many forms – including forced labour to pay off high-interest debts and workers being held captive via the seizure of their passports or ID cards.
Rarintip Sirorat, deputy permanent secretary of the Social Development and Human Security Ministry, said the United States’ 2012 Trafficking in Persons (TIP) Report had placed Thailand in its “Tier 2-Watch List” for the fourth consecutive year. She said the ranking had not improved despite Thailand’s moves to tackle human trafficking, because the US used information from other sources, including international organisations and NGOs.
One concern was that though more people were being arrested in Thailand on human-trafficking cases, from 84 in 2011 to 305 in 2012, few suspects get prosecuted because the process has many steps and takes a lot of time.
nother concern was corrupt law enforcers and a lack of coordination between agencies, which failed to exchange and use information, she said. The US is urging Thailand speed up the investigation process as well as prosecuting more wrongdoers and corrupt officials, Rarintip said.
If Thailand fails to implement these points, it could end up on “Tier 3-Watch List” and face trade and aid barriers from next year.
Pol Maj-General Chawalit Sawaengphuet, who oversees AHTD, said officers had arrested 241 human-trafficking suspects over the past five years – 170 were related to forced prostitution, 56 for forced labour and 15 for forced begging. Last year, trafficking arrests rose dramatically due to police crackdowns and an average of 85 people have been arrested each month in the first half of this year. It estimated there could be over 1,000 human-trafficking arrests this year, he said.