This report contains the comments of the Seafood Working Group (SWG) concerning the Government of Thailand’s ranking in the United States Department of State’s 2022 Trafficking in Persons (TIP) Report.1 The TIP Report is a requirement of the Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA). In 2021, the U.S. Department of State downgraded Thailand from its Tier 2 to Tier 2 Watchlist ranking because the government “did not demonstrate overall increasing efforts compared to the previous reporting period, even considering the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on its anti-trafficking capacity.”
In 2022, the SWG finds that Thailand was appropriately downgraded in 2021 and recommends that the country remain at Tier 2 Watchlist. Our research shows that numerous factors determining the downgrade have not shifted and that the Government of Thailand continues to fall short of the TVPA’s minimum standards.
The Government of Thailand has not increased its efforts to combat the problem of forced labor among migrant workers in proportion to the scope of the problem. It has maintained policies that make migrant workers more vulnerable to labor trafficking, such as short-term, ad hoc migration management policies. The government has also continued to deny migrant workers the fundamental rights of freedom of association and collective bargaining, making it very challenging for migrant workers to address labor rights abuses and prevent forced labor. In addition, the government has introduced draft legislation during the reporting period that would restrict the operations of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and have damaging impacts on migrant worker organizations and other organizations working to combat human trafficking.
Meanwhile, the Government of Thailand has continued to be ineffective in identifying victims and prosecuting labor trafficking cases in a victim-centric and trauma-informed manner. It has failed to conduct regular, effective labor inspections of fishing vessels and seafood processing factories, and it has still yet to issue guidelines for the Prevention and Suppression of Human Trafficking Act, B.E. 2551 (2008) (Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act). As a result, the government has not fully met the TVPA’s minimum standards, and there is not sufficient evidence of increasing efforts to combat severe forms of trafficking in persons from the previous year, especially with regard to labor trafficking.