U.S. Department of State 2004 Trafficking in Persons Report - Thailand
|Publisher||United States Department of State|
|Author||Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons|
|Publication Date||14 June 2004|
|Cite as||United States Department of State, U.S. Department of State 2004 Trafficking in Persons Report - Thailand, 14 June 2004, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/4680d80235.html [accessed 29 March 2015]|
Thailand (Tier 2 Watch List)
Thailand is a source, transit and destination country for persons trafficked for sexual exploitation and forced labor. Thailand is a destination for men, women and children from Burma, Laos, Cambodia, and China who are trafficked for forced or bonded labor and prostitution. Thai women are trafficked to Australia, South Africa, Japan, Bahrain, Taiwan, Europe and North America for sexual exploitation. Internal trafficking also occurs in Thailand, involving victims from Northern Thailand. Additionally, regional economic disparities drive significant illegal migration into Thailand, presenting traffickers opportunities to move victims into labor exploitation. Widespread sex tourism in Thailand encourages trafficking for forced prostitution.
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. Thailand's placement on Tier 2 Watch List is due to the government's failure to provide evidence of increasing efforts to combat severe forms of trafficking in one area: the protection of Cambodian trafficking victims, particularly those exploited in street work. The Thai government needs to take measures to protect trafficking victims in order to demonstrate significant efforts to eliminate severe forms of trafficking. In September 2003, the Thai government declared a national campaign against criminal organizations in Thailand including traffickers of women and children, the first time the issue has been publicly elevated to a national level priority.
The Thai government's law enforcement efforts showed some progress, with a significant increase in prosecutions and more seizures of assets related to trafficking cases. Thailand has a law specifically prohibiting trafficking. However, as in previous years, the law was used sparingly in 2003. Some police and prosecutors seem to be unfamiliar with its provisions and therefore do not use it. In 2003, the government reported 211 trafficking- related arrests, 86 prosecutions, and 20 convictions. Most sentences in trafficking cases were light. However, a number of sentences in trafficking cases were severe, with at least four sentences between 10 and 50 years. The government needs to reduce trafficking-related corruption in the police, immigration services, and judiciary. Only one of eighteen police officers charged in 2003 with facilitating trafficking was prosecuted and convicted, although eleven others are under active investigation. Thailand is not able to adequately control its long land borders and there appears to be an increase in trafficking along the Thai-Malaysian border.
The Thai government continued to provide adequate protection to trafficking victims in 2003, operating 97 shelters throughout the country for abused women and children. However, only four regional centers offer the secure conditions and counseling services needed by trafficking victims. In 2003, Thailand signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with Cambodia and a wider agreement between government agencies and NGOs to help regularize the protection and repatriation of foreign trafficking victims. Foreign victims in Thailand are no longer subject to deportation. However, in an attempt to remove street children from Bangkok in advance of the APEC summit in October of 2003, the Thai government deported 620 Cambodians, some of who were trafficking victims, without any of the protections required by the MOU. An additional 236 Cambodian women and children were deported in March of 2004 without adequate protection. Thai missions overseas have provided support to Thai victims who wish to return home, but limited funding is available to assist their repatriation. Thai police and consular officials have received training on trafficking issues and dealing with victims.
The Thai police in 2004 began an information campaign to increase public awareness of trafficking, which included the distribution of pamphlets and creation of a hotline for reporting suspected cases. The government also supports the work of NGOs and international organizations to carry out public awareness campaigns and provide victim support services.