BANGKOK — Thailand and a handful of other countries received Tier 3 ranking in the State Department’s recent release of grades of human trafficking. After spending four consecutive years at Tier 2, Thailand downgraded to the third tier for failing to make any notable strides or effort to improve their human trafficking issues.
This annual report evaluates the efforts made by other countries in improving their respective human trafficking situations. Thailand, along with Malaysia, North Korea, Iran and Zimbabwe, have all received the lowest possible score in the eyes of the U.S. State Department.
The rampant use of forced labor all throughout Thailand has contributed to this ranking, as well as the long-standing prostitution ring that circulates around the nation as well. The New York Times reports that “the government demonstrated few efforts to address these trafficking crimes” and therefore received a fitting Tier 3 ranking due to the direness of the situation.
A press release from the ambassador of Thailand in preparation for the release of the Trafficking in Persons report states: “Thailand has made significant advances in combating human trafficking, working with our partners at home and abroad including neighboring nations, the U.S., the E.U., international organizations and NGOs to implement preventive measures, to protect and assist victims and, importantly, to bring human traffickers to justice,” said H.E. Vijavat Isarabhakdi, Ambassador of the Kingdom of Thailand to the U.S.
Thailand believes they have taken necessary action to receive a higher ranking, or to at the very least maintain their Tier 2 ranking. However, at the State Department’s discretion, it does not appear they agree. Thailand’s place in the spotlight of human rights dictates a low ranking due to the lack of actual success. While small steps may have been taken, the number of people affected by human trafficking in Thailand overwhelms the efforts made.
Luis CdeBaca, ambassador at large at the State Department’s Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons, emphasizes that while Thailand has made improvements to dealing with sex trafficking, abuse of migrant workers has been horribly ignored and therefore unacceptable. The abuse of the migrant population is an “area that needs more policing, more enforcement,” according to CdeBaca.
The military coup that occurred in May will likely affect the state of human trafficking in Thailand, however it is unclear how positive or negative that effect will be. The junta has made statements in reference to improving the situation of undocumented workers while denying any involvement with the violent crackdowns that have lead to the dispersal of Cambodian workers in the hundreds of thousands.
While there is no immediate punishment or outcome of receiving a Tier 3 ranking as Thailand has, it serves as a massive red flag for the state of the government that foreign policies are watching and waiting for them to commit to taking serious action with influential outcomes.
Sources: Business Week, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Kingdom of Thailand, CNN, Channel News Asia, Time, The New York Times