February 24, 2023
BANGKOK – Thailand will not slip on the US government’s annual trafficking in persons (TIP) ranking this year, and could move up to the top ranking next year, deputy national police chief General Surachate Hakparn said ahead of a visit to Washington on Thursday and Friday.
Surachate will answer questions from American officials about Thailand’s efforts to reduce human trafficking ahead of the release of the US government’s annual global report on the crime.
He will explain Thailand’s ongoing efforts to enforce its law against human trafficking and its protection of victims of the crime to the US Senate and the US State Department’s Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons, he told Thansettakij, a sister publication of The Nation.
Thailand will retain its Tier two rank this year, Surachate said.
“I expect no change in the ranking. It’s unlikely that Thailand will be demoted this year,” he said.
If Thailand continues to enforce its law against human trafficking this year, it will be upgraded to Tier one next year, he said.
“The upgrade to Tier one is possible because all agencies have integrated efforts to fight human trafficking for more than seven years,” Surachate said, adding: “Now, state officials have more understanding and knowledge about how to enforce the law and protect and rehabilitate victims.”
An indicator of Thailand’s improved enforcement of the law is the rise in the number of cases against sexual abusers of children and those found to be in possession of child pornography, Surachate said. The number of cases last year exceeded the total for the previous seven years, he said.
Child abusers face swift criminal action so many have second thoughts before committing the crime, he said.
Convicted human traffickers also face money-laundering charges so that their assets can be seized to pay compensation to victims, Surachate said, adding that this measure was an effective deterrent against trafficking.
The US State Department is required by its Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act of 2000 to review TIP around the world in April and May before it releases its annual TIP report in July.
The report assesses and ranks countries globally, including the United States, according to their perceived efforts to combat human trafficking.
The report is the “US government’s principal diplomatic tool to engage foreign governments on human trafficking,” according to the US State Department. “It is also the world’s most comprehensive resource of governmental anti-trafficking efforts and reflects the US government’s commitment to global leadership on this key human rights and law enforcement issue,” the US State Department says.
The report uses three tiers, and a watchlist, to rank countries. Tier one countries are those that have been assessed to be in compliance with the minimum standards of the US Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act of 2000. Tier two countries are those that have not fully complied but are assessed to be making progress. Tier three countries are those that do not comply with the minimum standards of the US legislation and whose governments are making no effort to improve.
Between tiers two and three there is a Tier two watch list for countries falling short of their efforts to improve.
Surachate said he was assigned to update the US Senate and State Department about Thailand’s progress protecting victims of human trafficking ahead of this year’s assessment.
Thailand has ranked as a Tier two country on four of the five last TIP reports: In 2001, however, it slipped to the Tier two watch list before regaining Tier two status last year.
Slightly more than 500 human trafficking cases were heard in Thai courts last year, with 307 of the 503 concluded, resulting in convictions in 264 cases and acquittals in 24, according to the Office of Planning and Budget of the Court of Justice. Courts rejected 19 cases.
A total of 14.443 million baht in fines were collected from those convicted and they were ordered to pay compensation totaling 67.95 million baht to victims last year, according to the office.
Meanwhile, Poj Aramwattananont, deputy chairman of the Thai Chamber of Commerce, said he expected that Thailand would get a better assessment this year thanks to efforts by the government to combat human trafficking.
Deputy Prime Minister General Prawit Wongsuwan deserves credit for the country’s improved performance in enforcing the law against human trafficking last year, Poj said.