January 4, 2012—Thai police will now be equipped with a detailed manual helping them identify and address human trafficking, a growing crime in many countries that involves forced labor or sexual exploitation. The Solidarity Center provided technical and financial support to the Human Rights and Development Foundation (HRDF) for the project. The HRDF then engaged in a series of lengthy consultations with a range of Thai government agencies and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) to compile the 346-page guidebook.
|A laborer sorts through the catch on a Thai fishing vessel. Photo: U. S. State Dept.
Pol Gen Chatchawal Suksomjit, an adviser to the Royal Thai Police, said the U.S. State Department’s annual report on human trafficking “has become a wake-up call to improve efficiency of the Thai law enforcement agencies,” with the anti-trafficking manual for police part of the government’s efforts to address this crime, which undermines the most basic human rights.
For the past three years, Thailand has been on the State Department’s Tier 2 human trafficking “watch list,” which in part means that the absolute number of victims of severe forms of trafficking is “very significant or is significantly increasing.”
In the department’s 2012 Trafficking in Persons Report, Thailand is described as “a source, destination and transit country for men, women and children subjected to forced labor” trafficking. Victims from neighboring countries, as well as from China, Vietnam, Russia, Uzbekistan and Fiji, migrate to Thailand for various reasons including to flee conditions of poverty. The bulk of migrant workers arrive from Burma.
Pol Gen Chatchawal has asked police nationwide to provide specific information to help systematically map potential trafficking sites.
In 2008, Thailand passed an anti-trafficking in persons act, and HRDF secretary Somchai Homlaor called on Thai police to be aware of the human rights aspect.
Globally, there are more than 21 million people in forced labor, including victims of trafficking, according to the International Labor Organization (ILO). The Asia-Pacific region accounts for the largest number of forced laborers in the world—11.7 million (56 percent) of the global total, according to the ILO. Africa is next at 3.7 million (18 percent), and Latin America with 1.8 million victims (9 percent).
The Solidarity Center works globally to eliminate all forms of worker exploitation and to build support for worker rights in partnership with trade unions, governments, and civil society to create community and workplace-based safe migration and counter-trafficking strategies that emphasize prevention, prosecution and protection.