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.

    You May Like

    Turkey, US Splits Deepen Over Support for Kurdish Militants

    Ankara summons American ambassador to protest remarks by State Department spokesman who said Washington does not consider Syria's Kurdish Democracy Union Party (PYD) a terrorist organization

    Obama Seeking $19 Billion for National Cybersecurity

    Move, touted as attempt to build broad, cohesive federal response to cyberthreats, calls for increase in cybersecurity spending across all government agencies

    Video Foreign Policy Weighs Heavy for Some US Voters

    VOA talks to protesters in Manchester, New Hampshire, who sound off on foreign policy issues such as the Guantanamo Bay prison, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the wars in Iraq, Syria and Yemen

    This forum has been closed.
    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    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 ?

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Valentine's Day Stinks for Lebanese Clownsi
    X
    February 09, 2016 8:04 PM
    This weekend, on Valentine's Day in Lebanon, love is not the only thing in the air. More than half a year after the country's trash crisis began, the stink of uncollected garbage remains on the streets. Step forward "Clown Me In," a group of clowns who use their skills for activism. Before the most romantic day of the year the clowns have released their unusual take on love in Lebanon -- in a bid to keep the pressure up and get the trash off the streets. John Owens reports from Beirut.
    Video

    Video Valentine's Day Stinks for Lebanese Clowns

    This weekend, on Valentine's Day in Lebanon, love is not the only thing in the air. More than half a year after the country's trash crisis began, the stink of uncollected garbage remains on the streets. Step forward "Clown Me In," a group of clowns who use their skills for activism. Before the most romantic day of the year the clowns have released their unusual take on love in Lebanon -- in a bid to keep the pressure up and get the trash off the streets. John Owens reports from Beirut.
    Video

    Video Rocky Year Ahead for Nigeria Amid Oil Price Crash

    The global fall in the price of oil has rattled the economies of many petroleum exporters, and Africa’s oil king Nigeria is no exception. As Chris Stein reports from Lagos, analysts are predicting a rough year ahead for the continent’s top producer of crude.
    Video

    Video Foreign Policy Weighs Heavy for Some US Voters

    VOA talks to protesters in Manchester, New Hampshire who sound off on foreign policy issues such as the Guantanamo Bay Prison, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Middle East Affairs and national security.
    Video

    Video 'No Means No' Program Targets Sexual Violence in Kenya

    The organizers of an initiative to reduce and stop rape in the informal settlements around Kenya's capital say their program is having marked success. Girls are taking self-defense classes while the boys are learning how to protect the girls and respect them. Lenny Ruvaga reports from Nairobi.
    Video

    Video New Hampshire Voters Are Independent, Mindful of History

    Once every four years, the northeastern state of New Hampshire becomes the center of the U.S. political universe with its first-in-the-nation presidential primary. What's unusual about New Hampshire is how seriously the voters take their role and the responsibility of being among the first to weigh in on the candidates.
    Video

    Video Chocolate Lovers Get a Sweet History Lesson

    Observed in many countries around the world, Valentine’s Day is sometimes celebrated with chocolate festivals. But at a festival near Washington, the visitors experience a bit more than a sugar rush. They go on a sweet journey through history. VOA’s June Soh takes us to the festival.
    Video

    Video 'Smart' Bandages Could Heal Wounds More Quickly

    Simple bandages are usually seen as the first line of attack in healing small to moderate wounds and burns. But scientists say new synthetic materials with embedded microsensors could turn bandages into a much more valuable tool for emergency physicians. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Bhutanese Refugees in New Hampshire Closely Watching Primary Election

    They fled their country and lived in refugee camps in neighboring Nepal for decades before being resettled in the northeastern U.S. state of New Hampshire -- now the focus of the U.S. presidential contest. VOA correspondent Aru Pande spoke with members of the Bhutanese community, including new American citizens, about the campaign and the strong anti-immigrant rhetoric of some of the candidates.
    Video

    Video Researchers Use 3-D Printer to Produce Transplantable Body Parts

    Human organ transplants have become fairly common around the world in the past few decades. Researchers at various universities are coordinating their efforts to find solutions -- including teams at the University of Pennsylvania and Rice University in Houston that are experimenting with a 3-D printer -- to make blood vessels and other structures for implant. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Houston, they are also using these artificial body parts to seek ways of defeating cancerous tumors.
    Video

    Video Helping the Blind 'See' Great Art

    There are 285 million blind and visually impaired people in the world who are unable to enjoy visual art at a museum. One New York photographer is trying to fix this situation by making tangible copies of the world’s masterpieces. VOA correspondent Victoria Kupchinetsky was there as visually impaired people got a feel for great art. Joy Wagner narrates her report.
    Video

    Video German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibit

    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video E-readers Help Ease Africa's Book Shortage

    Millions of people in Africa can't read, and there's a chronic shortage of books. A non-profit organization called Worldreader is trying to help change all that one e-reader at a time. VOA’s Deborah Block tells us about a girls' school in Nairobi, Kenya where Worldreader is making a difference.
    Video

    Video Genius Lets World Share Its Knowledge

    Inspired by crowdsourcing companies like Wikipedia, Genius allows anyone to edit anything on the web, using its web annotation tool
    Video

    Video In Philippines, Mixed Feelings About Greater US Military Presence

    In the Philippines, some who will be directly affected by a recent Supreme Court decision clearing the way for more United States troop visits are having mixed reactions.  The increased rotations come at a time when the Philippines is trying to build up its military in the face of growing maritime assertiveness from China.  From Bahile, Palawan on the coast of the South China Sea, Simone Orendain has this story.