PM declares “anti-human trafficking” as national agenda

PM3April2015

Ministry of Foreign Affairs: Press Release on 3 April 2015

April 3, 2015, at 1400hrs, at Santi Maitree Building, Government House, Prime Minister Gen. Prayut Chan-o-cha presided over a meeting to officially declare anti-human trafficking as a national agenda, and hand down related policies to concerned offices. Participated in the meeting were Deputy PM and Defense Minister Gen. Prawit Wongsuwon; ministers and high-ranking officials from Ministry of Social Development and Human Security, Ministry of Labor, Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperative, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Justice, Ministry of Industry, Ministry of Tourism and Sports; Commanders-in-Chief of the Royal Thai Army and the Royal Thai Navy; Chief of the Royal Thai Police; Secretary-General of Anti-Money Laundering Office (AMLO); DSI Director-General; provincial governors, and concerned officials. Gist of the meeting is as follows:

Declaration of anti-human trafficking as national agenda

According to the Prime Minister, the problems associated with human trafficking in various forms such as child labor, prostitution, beggars and forced labor, such as in fishing industry, have long persisted in Thailand. Thailand is seen as the country of origin, transit and destination for human trafficking for a long time. Many countries have kept an eye on us for more than 10 years already because they think that we are not trying hard enough to tackle human trafficking seriously and systematically. There had been no strong penalties for officials who have exploited both Thai and foreign labors, but only minimal disciplinary actions without the use of any evidence that could lead to criminal prosecutions. We must accept that previously, a key aspect of the human trafficking problem has been the involvement of government officials or employees of the government who have abused their authorities. As well, Thai society has encountered the problem of influential figures who have exploited others profusely.

Creating awareness among the Thai people to perceive trafficking in persons as an imminent threat

PM Prayut expressed his concern on the misperception of some Thai people with regard to human trafficking, such as believing that prostitution is not an immoral or damaging issue, or that forced labor with lowest wages without any benefits is an acceptable arrangement. This thinking alludes to the acceptance of illegalities and the disrespect for the human rights of others.

Human Trafficking is a problem that is very close to us all, no matter where you live, or what background you come from. Everyday this problem has manifested into our lives in ways that one may not have imagined, for example beggar gangs who kidnap children and force them to beg for money, or force children to work in any kind of conditions, all of which is illegal.

 Definiion of “Trafficking in Persons”

According to The Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act B.E 2551 (2008) “Human Trafficking” means  “business for the purpose of exploitation, which includes the acts of: procuring, buying, selling, vending, transporting, detaining or confining, harboring, or receiving any person by means of threat or use of force, abduction, fraud, deception, abuse of power, or the giving money or benefits to achieve consent from the legal guardian of a person in order to gain control over them in allowing the offender to exploit the person under his control.”

The Government has seriously been tackling the problem of trafficking in persons since this matter is about the fundamentals of having a conscience, a sense of justice, and morality. It is about respecting the principle that all human beings are born free and equal in dignity and with rights. If Thailand is to be viewed a society with compassion and progress, then human trafficking should not be happening in this country. Some selfish people work to put their personal interests first while destroying the country's reputation. This has had a disastrous effect on both the county’s image and economic performance.

Revision of ministerial regulations and related laws and integration of work

The Government has expedited the revision of ministerial regulations and related laws that provide the basis on which all offices would operate. He expressed hope that there would be no more excuses and all government agencies can work together systematically to fight against trafficking in persons (TiP) and illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing (IUU).

Strict law enforcement in fishery and entertainment spots

PM Prayut also emphasized the importance of law enforcement. Entertainment spots that remain open after hours, prostitution rings, and child labor in factories, even those that are considered as relatives, not to mention beggars, must all be strictly investigated and pressed charges against. The Government is also put its effort in addressing IUU in a systematic and comprehensive manner.

National stability, prosperity, and sustainability in accordance with the royal philosophy of sufficiency economy

The Prime Minister added that this government was doing its best for the country, based on the vision of stability, prosperity and sustainability in accordance with His Majesty the King’s philosophy of sufficiency economy, and called for cooperation from all public officials. Public officials must not engage, involve, or support human trafficking activities either directly or indirectly, and must not be negligent of their duties.

Synergy and integration of work among public offices and ministries

All concerned offices, including administrative offices, Ministry of Labor, Fishery Department, Marine Department, local police, marine police, immigration offices, Ministry of Industry, Royal Thai Army, Royal Thai Navy, must collaborate more and work in an integrative manner. For instance, Ministry of Social Development and Human Security should be responsible for provision of social workers, psychologists, and work related to protection, rehabilitation, and remedy, while Ministries of Labor and Industry must strictly in investigating labor forces. Ministries of Foreign Affairs and Labor are to protect Thai labor overseas.

According to PM Prayut, now that the problem has been declared a national agenda, all concerned offices must accelerate their work and be strict in their undertakings in the areas of their responsibility. He called for the Ministers to tighten their supervision and earnestly work together since suppression and prevention of trafficking in persons was not an easy task for an individual office to achieve.

Deputy PM and Defense Minister Gen. Prawit Wongsuwon added that trafficking in persons, be it illegal labor, child labor, or IUU, is now a national agenda against which all concerned officials must join forces in fighting in a fair and integrative manner and in accordance with international principles.

Interior Minister Gen. Anupong Paojinda affirmed that the Ministry would ensure tasks would be undertaken according to the Government’s policy, and concerned offices would strictly address the problem of trafficking in persons.