Thai government announces unrealistic steps against human trafficking

Bangkok is at the centre of labour and sex trafficking. Source told AsiaNews that it “is like printing money so that no one has any interest in shutting it down." The issue tops this year’s national agenda. Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-o-cha calls for zero tolerance, announces a '5 P Strategy'.

Bangkok (AsiaNews) – Today 5 June, is the Day Against Human Trafficking in Thailand. Prime Minister General Prayuth Chan-o-cha led the ceremony marking the occasion at the Santi Maitree Building, Government House.

Students were invited to take part in a drawing contest titled ‘Thailand is safe from human trafficking’, and the first prize was handed to the winner by the prime minister in person.

Speaking on the matter, Permanent Secretary for Social Development and Human Security Maitree Intusu, said: "Following the report on the plan against human trafficking issued by the Ministry in the first quarter of this year, Prime Minister General Prayuth Chan-o-cha, pointing out the severity of the problem, said that it was at the heart of the 2017 National Agenda. This year's theme is the ‘Civil state is united in the fight against the danger of human trafficking."

"As indicated in the 2016 report, human trafficking is a very complex and complicated problem, as it violates human rights seriously,” General Chan-o-cha said. “The Thai government continues its fight against this scourge, taking protection and prevention measures in related sectors, each of which is invited to implement the government's mandate to fight human trafficking on the basis of a zero-tolerance policy and prosecute and punish offenders to the fullest.”

“The plan against human trafficking follows a 'Five P Strategy': policy, prosecution, protection, prevention and partnership. In fact, the area is part of the national agenda with 23.88 per cent more funds invested. The efficiency of legal action against trafficking rose from 5 per cent in 2015 to 19.92 per cent in 2016.

“In terms of protection, 196 victims found jobs, whilst trial witnesses have been allowed to stay in Thailand for up to two years instead of one. In addition, 138 trained interpreters and other 89 volunteer interpreters have been provided to victims to alleviate suffering or allay concern."

"I call on the authorities concerned,” the prime minister went on to say, “to highlight the results of the objectives by integrating work to develop a greater understanding of the problem both at national and international level as well as create a vision of Thai society in which human trafficking beings is seen as a pending danger. All of us must respect the rights of our fellow citizens."

General Chan-o-cha also noted that the status of any organisation obstructing the work as a whole should be changed.

Speaking about General Chan-o-cha’s statement, a source told AsiaNews that "Human trafficking is talked about a lot in Thai politics, but the situation has not improved at all. Bangkok remains the centre of human trafficking.

“Even today, thousands of irregular workers are being 'exported' abroad by companies that, once they arrive, take away their passports and force them to work, sometimes unpaid. Unable to rely on regular pay, the latter remain hostage to these companies and cannot return to their families.

“As far as prostitution is concerned, it is a real business, led by powerful people who benefit from enormous economic benefits. Corrupt members of law enforcement are also involved.

“Some programmes for the rehabilitation of women victims of prostitution do exist, but in reality, the business is like printing money so that no one has any interest in shutting it down."