In June, two important reports regarding the state of anti-human trafficking efforts were released.
The U.S. State Department released its 2010 Trafficking In Persons Report, commonly known as TIP Report, an annual worldwide assessment by the Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons. Thanks to the initiative by the Obama administration, 2010 marks the year of the United States finally being included in their own report. The TIP Report ranks countries according to their efforts to combat human trafficking using a 3-tier system, with Tier 1 being the highest and Tier 3 the lowest. The TIP Report also provides recommendations to address key needs for effective anti-trafficking intervention, such as education and outreach to vulnerable populations, support to undocumented migrants, and multilingual hotline and rehabilitation services. DEPDC/GMS is at the forefront in leading these efforts.
Thailand, listed as Tier 2 country for the past five years, has now been downgraded to ‘Tier 2 Watch List’ status.
This is what the TIP Report says about Thailand’s efforts: “The Government of Thailand does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking; however, it is making significant efforts to do so. [It] continued implementation of its comprehensive anti-human trafficking law that came into force in 2008, continued training on the law, and conducted awareness-raising activities on human trafficking. Despite these significant efforts, the government’s overall effort to address forced labor and forced prostitution of foreign migrants and Thai citizens did not make adequate progress; therefore Thailand is placed on Tier 2 Watch List.”
The six countries of the Greater Mekong Sub-region were ranked as follows:
Cambodia – Tier 2
China – Tier 2 Watch List
Laos – Tier 2 Watch List
Thailand – Tier 2 Watch List
Vietnam – Tier 2 Watch List
Myanmar (Burma) – Tier 3
As Hal Lipper, a Development Outreach Communications Specialist of the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) explains: “There currently are no restrictions to (USAID) Fiscal Year 2010 and 2011 assistance to Thailand. (…) Tier 2 Watch List countries are not subject to sanctions.” However, any country that is ranked as ‘Tier 2 Watch List’ for two consecutive years will be ranked as ‘Tier 3’ thereafter, unless it complies with the minimum standards of the U.S. Trafficking Victims Protection Act or is making significant efforts to bring itself into compliance.
The United Nations Inter-Agency Project on Human Trafficking in the Greater Mekong Sub-region (UNIAP) released its SIREN GMS-08 Report (SIREN, Strategic Information Response Network), highlighting developments in the criminal justice response to human trafficking in the Greater Mekong Sub-region over the last three years. In particular, this describes efforts to strengthen legal frameworks, criminal justice institutions and support provided to victims.
This is what the SIREN Report says about Thailand’s efforts:
“Thailand […] enacted specific human trafficking laws [over the last three years] that expand the definition of exploitation to cover a wider range of purposes and extending protection of the law to adult males as well as to women and children. The new Thai law outlines a range of protection and support measures that are to be provided to victims of trafficking, including immunity from prosecution for acts committed in connection with the trafficking process. […] Thailand now define[s] human trafficking in a way that generally reflects the internationally accepted definition. This has facilitated an increase in the previously very low number of male victims being identified.”
The SIREN Report concludes that while important progress has been made to strengthen the criminal justice response to human trafficking in the GMS, it remains uneven and incremental.
“More needs to be done to ensure that changes to laws, practices, institutions and procedures result in real change where it matters: better protected and supported victims; more and better prosecutions […]; greater levels of cooperation and collaboration between GMS countries; and a donor community that is facilitating and supporting such changes.”
For more details please download UNIAP’s SIREN GMS-08 Report.
The message that both reports convey is that Thailand has in fact made significant progress to improve its legal framework. However, those efforts have up until now failed to produce sufficient tangible results. Effective prosecutions have also failed to increase significantly, and what is worse, little to no protection is provided to the most vulnerable populations in Thailand, such as stateless persons, foreign migrants, or disadvantaged Thai citizens. DEPDC/GMS will continue its work to help those most at risk, to raise awareness about human trafficking, and to develop and strengthen a unified anti-trafficking response throughout the Greater Mekong Sub-region.