Last Updated: Friday, 27 May 2016, 08:49 GMT

U.S. Department of State 2003 Trafficking in Persons Report - Thailand

Publisher United States Department of State
Author Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons
Publication Date 11 June 2003
Cite as United States Department of State, U.S. Department of State 2003 Trafficking in Persons Report - Thailand, 11 June 2003, available at: [accessed 28 May 2016]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.

Thailand (Tier 2)

Thailand is a source, transit and destination country for persons trafficked into sexual exploitation and forced labor. Economic disparity in the region helps to drive significant illegal migration into Thailand from its neighbors, presenting traffickers opportunities to move victims into labor exploitation and, particularly women and children, into prostitution. International trafficking victims come mainly from Burma, Laos, Cambodia, and China. Many victims are from stateless ethnic tribes in Northern Thailand and the surrounding region. Widespread sex tourism in Thailand encourages trafficking for prostitution. Thai victims – and others sometimes transiting through Thailand – are trafficked to Australia, South Africa, Japan, Taiwan, Europe and North America mainly for sexual exploitation; many go willingly and are later victimized by traffickers.

The Government of Thailand does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking; however, it is making significant efforts to do so. The government has recognized for years that trafficking in persons is a problem, but the issue is still not among Thailand's top priorities. Concerned Thai officials, however, are gradually increasing the government's regional and bilateral initiatives, a positive development because Thailand has the capacity to become a leading country in the law enforcement effort against traffickers. Thailand needs to give more focused national government direction to prosecutions and increase the number of arrests and convictions of traffickers at home. It also needs to continue working with its neighbors on regional law enforcement. Official complicity in trafficking remains an area of concern.


The government provides life skills training to children and young women at risk of being trafficked; it works at the community level and with local industry to encourage youth to seek jobs outside the sex trade. The government works well with NGOs and international organizations giving wide latitude and support for these organizations to engage in public awareness campaigns against trafficking and provide support services.


The Government of Thailand enforces laws against traffickers, but given the scope of the trafficking problem within its borders, more national focus needs to be given to these efforts, particularly against kingpin traffickers. According to government data, in 2002, there were 504 trafficking related arrests, resulting in 42 prosecutions and 21 jail sentences. The establishment of a special transnational crime department, which will have a unit dedicated to combating trafficking, is a high priority of the government. The first legal and administrative steps to create this new institution have been taken. This is an important expression of the government's long-term commitment to law enforcement and engagement on regional police cooperation. Prosecutorial attention should continue and expand against public officials who are involved in trafficking abuses. Dealing with trafficking-related official corruption merits continued government efforts. The government does not adequately control its long land borders, but it does monitor migration at Bangkok international airport.


Overall, senior Thai officials make commendable efforts to provide protection to trafficking victims; however, the relatively large size of the country and the scope of the problem hinder the smooth implementation of these measures. Officials attempt to ensure that foreign victims are not treated as illegal migrants through internal government agreements. The government operates 97 shelters for abused women and children, and works with NGO shelters to place trafficking victims. Thailand has negotiated a migrant labor memorandum of understanding (MOU) with Laos that also helps regularize the repatriations of foreign trafficking victims; an MOU with Cambodia specifically addressing trafficking is near final agreement. Thai police and consular officials receive training on how to deal with trafficking issues, and Thai missions overseas provide support to victims who want to return home.

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