BANGKOK, Jan 21 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – Police in Thailand last year launched the lowest number of human trafficking investigations in a decade as coronavirus restrictions on businesses and borders hindered criminal networks, according to a soon-to-be released government report.
A total of 131 cases were filed last year – down from 288 in 2019 – showed the data, which was compiled to inform an annual U.S. report ranking countries on their anti-trafficking efforts.
Of those probes – the lowest annual number since 81 in 2010 – about 90% involved sexual exploitation while most of the others were related to forced labour, the report found.
“Curfews and temporary closures of … businesses reduced possible opportunities for sex and labour trafficking,” said the report, revealed exclusively by the Thomson Reuters Foundation.
Thailand has pointed to improved efforts to stop trafficking in recent years, under scrutiny from the United States and following criticism of its failure to tackle abuses in its lucrative seafood and textile sectors, as well as the sex trade.
Advocates and anti-trafficking experts questioned whether the drop in cases was solely due to less criminality, and said the fallout from the pandemic may have led to more labour exploitation among certain groups such as migrant workers.
“COVID-19 did not result in fewer human trafficking crimes, but it resulted in authorities doing less inspections,” said Papop Siamhan, a lawyer with expertise in human trafficking and director at the Human Rights and Development Foundation.
“For instance, last year fewer authorities were inspecting fishing vessels, so it’s not surprising that the numbers have lowered,” he added.
Yet police colonel Choosak Apaipakdi said authorities had targets to meet on anti-trafficking inspections, and that performing such visits had not been hindered by the pandemic.
“The Thai government is not staying idle,” said Choosak, superintendent at the government’s anti-trafficking division.
“The prime minister has ordered the Royal Thai Police to increase prevention of human trafficking,” he added.
The number of victims identified last year – 229 – was also the lowest in a decade but campaigners have questioned whether high totals in previous years were a result of officials misidentifying smuggled migrants as trafficking victims.
Unlike trafficking, which involves deception or control over another person for the purpose of exploitation, smuggling means entering another country illegally and is generally consensual.
Trafficking convictions fell last year to 141 – a 35% drop from 2019 – as fewer cases were sent to court, the data showed.
The report is due to be sent to U.S. officials by the end of January. Last year, Thailand was ranked as a middling Tier 2 in the U.S. Trafficking in Persons (TIP) report, which noted that the country was making significant efforts to combat the crime.
Thailand is home to an estimated 610,000 modern slaves – about one in 113 of its population of 69 million – according to the 2018 Global Slavery Index by human rights group Walk Free.
(Reporting by Nanchanok Wongsamuth @nanchanokw; Editing by Kieran Guilbert. Thomson Reuters Foundation, Visit http://news.trust.org)
Thailand to further ease COVID-19 restrictions
The Cabinet approved to ease the level of control over the country under the COVID-19 situation including relaxing businesses and activities in 4 areas.
Thai government to buy cannabis from community enterprises
For a long time, there has been pressure to decriminalize Cannabis and allow its use for many purposes. Today, some of its parts are usable by the public, but only a few are allowed to grow and sell it.
Thai cabinet allows illegal migrant workers to sign up for 2-year work permit
Migrant workers from Cambodia, Laos, and Myanmar, who are in Thailand illegally, will be able to obtain a 2-year work permit under a special arrangement offered to help contain the spread of COVID-19.
BANGKOK (NNT) – Cabinet has approved a special arrangement for illegal migrant workers from neighboring countries, allowing them to register for 2-year legal work status in Thailand, following the case of a new COVID-19 outbreak among the migrant workers’ community.
ASEAN, China reaffirm commitment to strong partnership
The implementation of the new Plan of Action for the period 2021-2025, which is designed to further strengthen ASEAN-China cooperation...
Thailand sees gradual return of events and festivals
The Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) would like to provide an update regarding the gradual return of events and festivals...
Thailand’s Stock Exchange (SET)’s board elects Prasarn Trairatvorakul as new Chairman
The Stock Exchange of Thailand (SET)'s Board of Governors (BoG) today resolved to elect Prasarn Trairatvorakul as the 17th Chairman...
Foreigners’ Participation in Thai Listed Companies explained
Special vehicles have been created to facilitate foreign investors so that they are able to invest in Thai securities flexibly...
Gambling in Asia: Thailand and more
There is a large demand for gambling throughout Asia, which is detailed below in a comparison between various countries, such...
EEC Expects 300-billion-baht Investment This Year
BANGKOK (NNT) – Thailand expects investment to triple to at least 300 billion baht in the Eastern Economic Corridor (EEC)...
Subscribe via Email
Economics7 days ago
1.7 million Thais without smartphones register for "Rao Chana" benefits
United States7 days ago
US pledges to enhance cooperation with Mekong subregion’s countries
Startups7 days ago
Traveloka to launch financial services in Vietnam and Thailand
Economics1 week ago
BoI allows private sector in border logistics center