News / Asia

    Thailand Defends Human Rights Record

    Cambodian workers wait for their documents to be processed at the Aranyaprathet police station as they prepare to move back to Cambodia in Sa Kaew, Thailand, June 15, 2014.
    Cambodian workers wait for their documents to be processed at the Aranyaprathet police station as they prepare to move back to Cambodia in Sa Kaew, Thailand, June 15, 2014.
    Thai government officials are defending their country's rights record as the U.S. State Department prepares to issue its annual human trafficking report. Thailand faces a possible downgrade to the worst offenders' category.

    Government officials in Bangkok are reiterating that their country's progress in combating human trafficking exceeds Washington's criteria needed to upgrade Thailand's ranking.

    The kingdom was previously placed on the Tier 2 watch list on the State Department's Trafficking in Persons report.

    The 2014 report, covering 188 countries, is to be issued later this week. Western diplomats told VOA they expect Thailand to be dropped to Tier 3.

    That would equate Thailand with such countries as Cuba, Iran, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and Syria, as well as a number of African nations deemed to not fully comply with minimum standards and not making significant efforts to do so.

    Report's impact

    The director general of the American department at Thailand's foreign ministry, Songsak Saicheua, told VOA if the United States is objective, he is confident the kingdom will move up -- not down -- in the report.

    “But if it happens that we will be downgraded to be Tier 3 we are prepared to go ahead with all efforts to combat human trafficking. We will intensify the prosecution and law enforcement, step up protection and prevention system, increase and expand international partnerships with other countries,” said Songsak.

    Thailand could face economic sanctions and loss of development aid if it is blacklisted. Songsak does not expect any direct impact, though, based on how other countries have fared that were placed in the bottom tier.

    “It might have some sort of psychological effect on the consumer of the U.S. or Europe and so on," said Songsak. "Then we will also have to work closely with the buyers in the United States and also the European market to make sure they understand our efforts and they understand the process and what is going on in Thailand.”

    The determination could not come at a worse time for Thailand, with events combining to form what the Bangkok Post calls an “imperfect storm of humiliation.”

    Thailand is on the defensive over its Navy's alleged involvement in trafficking Rohingya refugees from Myanmar, also known as Burma, and Bangladesh.

    Slave labor

    The country last week was the only one to vote against a protocol strengthening the International Labor Organization's convention against slave labor. And an investigative report in a British newspaper (The Guardian) last week detailed alleged slave labor on shrimp (prawn) boats operating off Thailand's coasts.

    Meanwhile, Cambodians are fleeing home after the military junta announced it wants to rid Thailand of illegal aliens.

    The mass exodus is composed of 200,000 people, about half the total number of Cambodians working in Thailand, according to officials.

    Cambodia's government alleges Thailand has begun forcing factories and companies to stop using illegal foreign workers.  

    Police general Chatchawan Suksomjit, a top official at Thailand's labor ministry, rejects allegations that authorities are using force, including killings, in rounding up Cambodians.

    He blamed rumors spread by “foreign sources” that physical violence is being used. He said authorities have checked with the Royal Thai Police and railways agencies and have found these reports to be “completely unfounded.”

    There also are reports the crackdown is targeting illegal workers from Myanmar. It is believed that at least half of the estimated 2 million people from Myanmar working in Thailand do not have proper documentation.

    A larger exodus could have disastrous consequences for Thailand's economy, dependent in several key sectors on cheap, foreign labor from neighboring countries.

    Steve Herman

    A veteran journalist, Steve Herman is VOA's Southeast Asia Bureau Chief and Correspondent, based in Bangkok.

    You May Like

    Russia Sees Brexit Impact Widespread but Temporary

    Officials, citizens react to Britain’s vote to exit European Union with mix of pleasure, understanding and concern

    Obama Encourages Entrepreneurs to Seek Global Interconnection

    President tells entrepreneurs at global summit at Stanford University to find mentors, push ahead with new ideas on day after Britain voters decide to exit EU

    Video Some US Gun Owners Support Gun Control

    Defying the stereotype, Dave Makings says he'd give up his assault rifle for a comprehensive program to reduce gun violence

    This forum has been closed.
    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: Wiliam Saephanh from: facebook.com
    June 19, 2014 4:11 AM
    Check out their prison ask any former/current prisoner.

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Brexit Vote Plunges Global Markets Into Unchartered Territoryi
    X
    June 24, 2016 9:38 PM
    British voters plunged global markets into unknown territory after they voted Thursday to leave the European Union. The results of the Brexit vote, the term coined to describe the referendum, caught many off guard. Analysts say the resulting volatility could last for weeks, perhaps longer. Mil Arcega reports.
    Video

    Video Brexit Vote Plunges Global Markets Into Unchartered Territory

    British voters plunged global markets into unknown territory after they voted Thursday to leave the European Union. The results of the Brexit vote, the term coined to describe the referendum, caught many off guard. Analysts say the resulting volatility could last for weeks, perhaps longer. Mil Arcega reports.
    Video

    Video Orlando Shooting Changes Debate on Gun Control

    It’s been nearly two weeks since the largest mass shooting ever in the United States. Despite public calls for tighter gun control laws, Congress is at an impasse. Democratic lawmakers resorted to a 1960s civil rights tactic to portray their frustration. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti explains how the Orlando, Florida shooting is changing the debate.
    Video

    Video Tunisian Fishing Town Searches for Jobs, Local Development Solutions

    As the European Union tries to come to grips with its migrant crisis, some newcomers are leaving voluntarily. But those returning to their home countries face an uncertain future.  Five years after Tunisia's revolution, the tiny North African country is struggling with unrest, soaring unemployment and plummeting growth. From the southern Tunisian fishing town of Zarzis, Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at a search for local solutions.
    Video

    Video 'American Troops' in Russia Despite Tensions

    Historic battle re-enactment is a niche hobby with a fair number of adherents in Russia where past military victories are played-up by the Kremlin as a show of national strength. But, one group of World War II re-enactors in Moscow has the rare distinction of choosing to play western ally troops. VOA's Daniel Schearf explains.
    Video

    Video Experts: Very Few Killed in US Gun Violence Are Victims of Mass Shootings

    The deadly shooting at a Florida nightclub has reignited the debate in the U.S. over gun control. Although Congress doesn't provide government health agencies funds to study gun violence, public health experts say private research has helped them learn some things about the issue. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.
    Video

    Video Trump Unleashes Broadside Against Clinton to Try to Ease GOP Doubts

    Recent public opinion polls show Republican Donald Trump slipping behind Democrat Hillary Clinton in the presidential election matchup for November. Trump trails her both in fundraising and campaign organization, but he's intensifying his attacks on the former secretary of state. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone reports.
    Video

    Video Muslim American Mayor Calls for Tolerance

    Syrian-born Mohamed Khairullah describes himself as "an American mayor who happens to be Muslim." As the three-term mayor of Prospect Park, New Jersey, he believes his town of 6,000 is an example of how ethnicity and religious beliefs should not determine a community's leadership. Ramon Taylor has this report from Prospect Park.
    Video

    Video Internal Rifts Over Syria Policy Could Be Headache for Next US President

    With the Obama administration showing little outward enthusiasm for adopting a more robust Syria policy, there is a strong likelihood that the internal discontent expressed by State Department employees will roll over to the next administration. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports.
    Video

    Video Senegal to Park Colorful ‘Cars Rapide’ Permanently

    Brightly painted cars rapide are a hallmark of Dakar, offering residents a cheap way to get around the capital city since 1976. But the privately owned minibuses are scheduled to be parked for good in late 2018, as Ricci Shryock reports for VOA.
    Video

    Video Florida Gets $1 Million in Emergency Government Funding for Orlando

    The U.S. government has granted $1 million in emergency funding to the state of Florida to cover the costs linked to the June 12 massacre in Orlando. U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch announced the grant Tuesday in Orlando, where she met with survivors of the shooting attack that killed 49 people. Zlatica Hoke reports.
    Video

    Video How to Print Impossible Shapes with Metal

    3-D printing with metals is rapidly becoming more advanced. As printers become more affordable, the industry is partnering with universities to refine processes for manufacturing previously impossible things. A new 3-D printing lab aims to bring the new technology closer to everyday use. VOA's George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Big Somali Community in Minnesota Observes Muslim Religious Feast

    Ramadan is widely observed in the north central US state of Minnesota, which a large Muslim community calls home. VOA Somali service reporter Mohmud Masadde files this report from Minneapolis, the state's biggest city.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora