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Declaration of Anti-Human Trafficking as Part of Thailands National Agenda

12 April 2015

Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha has officially declared anti-human trafficking as part of Thailands national agenda.
The declaration was made at a meeting on 3 April 2015 at Santi Maitri Building, Government House. During the meeting, the Prime Minister also gave a policy briefing to relevant agencies. He said that the problems associated with human trafficking in various forms such as child labor, prostitution, beggars, and forced labor, especially in the 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 the country for more than 10 years now, because they think that Thailand is not trying hard enough to tackle human trafficking seriously and systematically. There were no strong penalties for officials who exploited both Thai and foreign labors, but only minimal disciplinary actions existed without the use of any evidence that could lead to criminal prosecutions.
He stated that Thailand must accept that previously, a key aspect of the human trafficking problem was the involvement of government officials or state employees who had abused their authority. Thai society has also encountered the problem of influential figures who have exploited others profusely.
Prime Minister Prayut expressed his concern on the misperception of some Thai people with regard to human trafficking. For instance, they believe that prostitution is not an immoral or damaging issue, or that forced labor with lowest wages without any benefits is an acceptable arrangement. This belief 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 everyone, no matter where they live, or what background they come from. Everyday this problem has manifested into their lives in ways that one may not have imagined. For example, beggar gangs kidnap children and force them to beg for money, or force children to work in any kind of conditions, all of which is illegal.
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 countys image and economic performance.
The Government has expedited the revision of ministerial regulations and related laws that provide the basis on which all offices would operate. The Prime Minister expressed hope that there would be no more excuses and all government agencies can work together systematically to fight trafficking in persons and illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing (IUU).
He 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 has also stepped up its effort in addressing IUU in a systematic and comprehensive manner.
The Prime Minister added that his administration was doing its best for the country, based on the vision of stability, prosperity, and sustainability, in accordance with His Majesty the Kings philosophy of sufficiency economy. He called for cooperation from all public officials, who must not engage, involve, or support human trafficking activities, either directly or indirectly, and must not be negligent of their duties.
All related offices, together with the Ministry of Labor, the Department of Fisheries, the Marine Department, local police, marine police, immigration offices, the Ministry of Industry, the Royal Thai Army, the Royal Thai Navy, must collaborate more and work in an integrated manner. For instance, the Ministry of Social Development and Human Security should be responsible for the provision of social workers, psychologists, and work related to protection, rehabilitation, and remedy, while the Ministry of Labor and the Ministry of Industry must strictly investigate labor forces. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Labor must protect Thai labor overseas.
The Prime Minister said that, as anti-human trafficking has been declared as part of the national agenda, all concerned offices must accelerate their work and be strict in their undertakings in the areas of their responsibility. He called on relevant 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 alone to achieve.
Foreign Office, The Government Public Relations Department, Office of the Prime Minister
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