News / Asia

Thailand Protests US Trafficking Blacklist

FILE - Thai Army chief General Prayuth Chan-Ocha arrives before a meeting to discuss the 2015 national budget at the Army Club in Bangkok, June 13, 2014.
FILE - Thai Army chief General Prayuth Chan-Ocha arrives before a meeting to discuss the 2015 national budget at the Army Club in Bangkok, June 13, 2014.
Thailand has asked the United States to reconsider its placing of the kingdom in the bottom tier of an annual report on human trafficking, a ranking that could potentially prompt sanctions.

The State Department report, released Friday, demoted Thailand, Malaysia, Gambia and Venezuela to Tier 3, the lowest category, joining such states as Cuba, Iran, North Korea and Zimbabwe.

Being placed on the Tier 3 blacklist could prompt sanctions or make multinational companies hesitant to invest in a country accused of not sufficiently fighting against trafficked labor.

American diplomats characterize the Thai government's approach to fighting human trafficking as being full of promises but short on results. The government had “demonstrated few efforts to address these trafficking crimes," the State Department said.

But Sihasak Phuangketkeow, the permanent secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said the country doesn't deserve the ranking.

“I do know that Thailand is doing better, much better, than the other countries in that category," Sihasak said. "I'm sure you can vouch for that, also. Does that reflect where Thailand stands? Does that provide the kind of support, encouragement for us to continue doing what we've been doing? So I ask United States whether Thailand should be in that category.”  

The government, which was taken over by the military in a coup a month ago, will ask Washington to reconsider its assessment of Thailand and re-evaluate the “tangible progress” made in the past year, he said.

“We don't believe that it is right for one country to use its own yardstick to evaluate what another country is doing or the performance of another country in terms of dealing with this problem," Sihasak said.

Thailand has faced considerable scrutiny, accused of being what some activists term a hub of human slavery.

International media investigations over the past year have alleged barbaric conditions for workers sold to Thailand's shrimp fishing fleets.

Pulitzer Prize-winning articles by the Reuters news agency accused Thailand's navy of being involved in trafficking Rohingya Muslims escaping from persecution in neighboring Myanmar (also known as Burma).

Journalists and researchers in Thailand who expose such abuses, which also extend to the agriculture sector, for years have faced threats of violence, lawsuits and criminal charges.

Steve Herman

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

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by: supersam from: Atlanta USA
June 22, 2014 10:45 AM
I condemn any mistreatment of workers,legal or illegal.Before condemning any country,US government must look in the mirror first.Every one knows that there massive numbers of illegal or we call them undocumented workers.Not all of of them are well and fairly treated.US would be more respected in the world if the govt,quits being a hypocrite !That goes with the criticism of how Thai take care of their protracted grid lock leading to the ruin of their country with military coup.US know darn well that for them,this is only way to get rid of the widespread
corruption.It is not the best way in the ideal world but please get real.Another election before the reform will forever keep Thailand under the same tyrant.I don't think any American accept the so called democracy when votes could be bought with cash would you?

by: Mark Olanackaraseyranee
June 21, 2014 11:49 PM
These grading, sanction, blacklist are just another tools that the US use for their interest nothing new. Thailand Thaksin and his cronies have be in power for more than 16years and never were downgraded by the US. I not saying that the US should not downgrade Thailand but why now, because the Thai military took over a month ago and the US made it a priority to downgrade, to pressure the military not for real human rights. They should have done it a very long time ago.

by: A2ZWorldTravLR from: Bangkok
June 21, 2014 11:44 PM
Who appointed the United States Government as the World Moral Police? When is the last time USG publicized TIP report on the USA? Has USG taken over from international organisations such as IOM, UN, non-governmental human rights organzations, and so on? Which bureaucrat came up with the obfuscatory term "human trafficking" that robs the nefarious activities like slavery, exploitation, forced prostitution and so on of their meaning?

by: eshita Chakrabarti from: Boston Ma USA
June 21, 2014 5:35 PM
Thailand and those countries with high human trafficking should have sanctions if they cannot take action so that these countries can benefit out of tourism. Imagine the plight of the trafficked individual, slavery to its worst form with disease and no money to recover.
No one should even consider to negotiate , they are not worth it.
World has to take action and by action I mean real action.
In Response

by: Jeff from: Samut Prakan
June 22, 2014 3:30 AM
I agree 'Eshita'. I also believe Thailand should be sanctioned as they clearly have not done enough if they were placed in this level of the ranking system. It is well known that this country is plagued by corruption, human rights violations, human trafficking, beatings, and as well as intimidation and threats of violence. What makes them think they are (or should be) exempt from the ranking they received?
* (Hey! I used to live outside of Boston for a good part of my life Eshita but now live in Thailand hehe:)

by: Gregory from: Chiang Mai
June 21, 2014 5:22 PM
Thailand continues to be a THUG --- they threaten anyone who reports their continued slavery of workers. There are pay offs across the spectrum from individuals, police, police senior officers, military, naval executives! They are going to attempt to blackmail the US to back off but they know they are so guilty! I know --- the corruption exists today even at the street level --- Thailand's Tea Money@@@
In Response

by: Jeff from: Samut Prakan
June 22, 2014 3:49 AM
@ 'Chai Putha'; While you may be correct in that yes, unfortunately we have had a small handful of murders at schools in the past, you clearly don't know that much about the U.S since you think that our soldiers "kill people in other countries". Where did you get that info from? It's called assisting other nations in a time of need. When countries are in trouble and facing crises, we like to help out fellow human beings. Besides, I wouldn't call America out when it comes to 'morals'. That is something I see a rather frequent lack of from the people in Thailand.
In Response

by: Jeff from: Samut Prakan
June 22, 2014 3:34 AM
You could NOT be more correct Greg. Yes, the people's way of dealing with things they don't want revealed here in Thailand is usually very thuggish and yes, they most certainly take to intimidation and threats when they know they could get into trouble. Only guilty people take to those kinds of tactics and Thailand is in fact a very corrupt country.
In Response

by: Chai Putha from: Thailand
June 21, 2014 11:23 PM
Thailand never have gun fire to pupils in schools as America has.
Thailand never send soldiers to kill anybody in other countries.
Why the other countries do not call for morals of American ?

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