United Nations Service Building,
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Thailand Human Trafficking Situation
Thailand is a source, transit and destination country for human trafficking. It is a destination-side hub of exploitation in the Greater Mekong Sub-region, for both sex and labour exploitation. Both internal and cross-border trafficking occur in and from Thailand, involving male and female victims for sex and labour exploitation. In addition, Thai people are trafficked to wealthier countries in Northeast Asia, the Middle East, the United States and Europe. Thai people are also at risk of trafficking from rural to urban migration as well.
According to official statistics of the Royal Thai Police and the Department of Special Investigation (DSI) of the Ministry of Justice (MOJ), there were 279 identified Thai and foreign victims of trafficking in Thailand in 2011; the number of identified victims in Thailand increased to 625 in 2012. For Thai victims who were trafficked abroad, statistics from the Ministry of Social Development and Human Security (MSDHS) demonstrated that there were 46 Thai victims of trafficking in 2011 and 59 victims in 2012 who were repatriated from aboard. However, since victims are often unwilling to disclose their identities or file official complaints against traffickers for various reasons, the scale of the problem is likely far greater than official statistics would indicate.
Who are the perpetrators?
As the nature of trafficking varies, so too does the profile of traffickers, both Thai and non-Thai nationals, male and female. They range from those in organised networks able to produce or buy fake documents, avoid immigration requirements and conduct trafficking operations spanning thousands of kilometres, to individuals seizing an opportunity to profit from cheating or coercing someone into a situation of exploitation. Perpetrators of human trafficking include anyone complicit in any stage of the deception, movement or exploitation of a person. Traffickers use sophisticated means of transporting Thai nationals on fraudulent travel documents and use a wide variety of land, sea and air routes.
Trafficking networks in and from Thailand can be well-structured and work across the borders through the use of brokers. However, the majority of trafficking cases are facilitated by individual and local level networks of friends, family members and former victims, and often begin with voluntary migration.
According to the Anti-Human Trafficking Division (AHTD) of the Royal Thai Police, there was a significant increase in the number of trafficking cases handled by the Division since the Anti-trafficking in Persons Act B.E. 2541 was put into force in June 2008; there were 42 cases in 2008; 97 cases in 2009; 70 cases in 2010; 83 cases in 2011; and 307 cases in 2012. Records showed that 432 offenders were arrested on human trafficking charges in 2012. Four years’ imprisonment is the minimum sentence for human trafficking offences in Thailand.
COMMIT Structure in Thailand
COMMIT has become a forum for member countries to meet, discuss and exchange knowledge and experiences related to combatting human trafficking. It has enhanced cooperation on international prosecution, strengthened relationships at institutional and interpersonal levels, as well as encouraged cooperation between member countries in the form of multilateral and bilateral cooperation. Moreover, it helped establish plans and procedures for the implementation of anti-trafficking initiatives in all 6 countries and supported the harmonisation of policies, laws, regulations and Standard Operating Procedures in the region.
Thailand adopts a multi-disciplinary approach in combatting human trafficking. The Ministry of Social Development and Human Security (MSDHS) is Thailand’s focal anti-trafficking government agency responsible for coordinating its overall anti-trafficking efforts, with other concerned government and non-government agencies responding to human trafficking as per their respective mandates. In 2008 when the Anti-trafficking in Persons Act B.E. 2551 was promulgated, Thailand established two national committees, i.e. the Anti-trafficking in Persons Committee (ATP Committee) chaired by the Prime Minister, and the Coordinating and Monitoring of Anti-trafficking in Persons Performance Committee (CMP Committee) chaired by the Deputy Prime Minister, under which a number of sub-committees on various trafficking issues were also established. The Office of Anti-trafficking in Persons Committee of the National Operation Centre on Prevention and Suppression of Human Trafficking (NOCHT) under the Ministry of Social Development and Human Security (MSDHS) has been appointed to be the secretariat of these national committees and sub-committees. With MSDHS as the lead implementing government agency, Thailand’s Anti-trafficking efforts are being carried out under the guidance of these national committees and sub-committees and in accordance with the National Policy, Strategies and Measures to Prevent and Suppress Trafficking in Persons (2011 – 2016), which was issued in May 2010. This policy document aims to provide guidance for all anti-trafficking agencies in Thailand allowing government agencies, non-governmental organisations, international organisations and civil society – to jointly combat human trafficking.
Under this national anti-trafficking structure, the Ad-hoc Sub-committee on Coordination to Combat Human Trafficking in the Greater Mekong Sub-region, also known as the Thai COMMIT Task Force, was established by the CMP Committee. This Sub-committee is comprised of various counter-trafficking government, non-government agencies, and international organisations. Mandates of this Sub-committee include; to facilitate the COMMIT Process; review and monitor the implementation of memorandums of understanding (MoUs) in the Greater Mekong Sub-region; develop operational plans; prepare Thailand’s stance and information for Inter-ministerial and Senior Official meetings; monitor the work of UNIAP which acts as the Secretariat to the COMMIT Process; and establish working groups to review or take certain actions in accordance with the COMMIT Task Force’s decision.
Thailand COMMIT Milestones
- Constitution of Thailand
- Labour Protection Act B.E. 2541
- Extradition Treaty with Cambodia
- Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons Especially Women and Children
- Lao PDR on Employment of Workers
- National Policy and Plan on Prevention, Suppression, and Combatting Domestic and Transnational Trafficking in Children and Women (2003 – 2010)
- Witness Protection Act B.E. 2546
- Child Protection Act
- Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on Operational Guidelines for Government Agencies Engaged in Addressing Trafficking in Persons (TIP)
- MoU on Operations between State Agencies and NGOs Engaged in Addressing TIP
- MoU on Guidelines for NGOs Engaged in Addressing TIP
- MoU with Cambodia on Trafficking in Persons (TIP)
- MoU with Cambodia on Employment of Workers
- MoU with Myanmar on Employment of Workers
- COMMIT MoU on Cooperation against Trafficking in Persons in the GMS signed. Thailand declared its intention to fight trafficking in persons and made the prevention and resolution of trafficking in persons part of its national agenda
- ASEAN Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty (MLAT) Treaty
- ASEAN Declaration on TIP
- MoU with Lao PDR on TIP
- Joint Guidelines with Cambodia on Repatriation
- MLAT with China
- Joint Guidelines with Cambodia on TIP Criminal Justice Procedure
- Standard Operating Procedures on Victim Protection with Lao PDR
- Establishment of the Thai-COMMIT Task Force called the Sub-committee on Coordination to Combat Human Trafficking in the Greater Mekong Sub-region
- ASEAN Declaration on the Protection and Promotion of the Rights of Migrant Workers
- Anti-trafficking in Persons Committee (ATP Committee) chaired by the Prime Minister established
- The Coordinating and Monitoring of Anti-trafficking in Persons Performance Committee (CMP Committee) chaired by the Deputy PM
- Alien Work Act B.E. 2551
- New Anti-trafficking in Persons Act B.E. 2551
- Operational Guideline on the Prevention, Suppression, Assistance and Protection of Trafficked Persons for Labour Purposes
- Anti-money Laundering Act No. 2
- Alien Work Act B.E. 2551
- MoU with Vietnam on TIP
- MoU with Myanmar on TIP
- Second Phase of TIP Plan of Action with Lao PDR
- TIP Plan of Action with Myanmar
- TIP Plan of Action with Vietnam
- Sub-committee on the Consideration of the Approaches and Measures to Prevent and Suppress Human Trafficking in Fishery
- National Policy Strategies and Measures to Prevent and Suppress Trafficking in Persons (2011 – 2016)
- Bilateral agreement with Cambodia on the use of forced labour
- Re-establishment of the Thai COMMIT Task Force, now called the Ad-hoc Sub-committee on Coordination to Combat Human Trafficking in the Greater Mekong Sub-region
- Ministry of Interior’s Regulation to allow migrants who are victims of trafficking to remain in the country temporarily
- The Prime Minister’s Office Announcement on Specifying the types of work that Victims of Trafficking can do temporarily in the country while awaiting repatriation
- Second COMMIT Joint Declaration of the Coordinated Mekong Ministerial Initiative against Human Trafficking
COMMIT Ministerial Representatives for Thailand
- Ministry of Social Development and Human Security
- Department of Social Development and Welfare
- Department of Social Development and Welfare
- Ministry of Labour
- Ministry of Justice
- Royal Thai Police
- Department of Special Investigations
- Office of the Auditor General
- Thai Immigration Bureau