Thai­land de­fends hu­man traf­fick­ing crack­down in fish­ing sec­tor

hu­man traf­fick­ing crack­down in fish­ing sec­tor

Mizzima Business Weekly - - CONTENTS -

Thai po­lice re­jected crit­i­cism of ef­forts to root out hu­man traf­fick­ing in the king­dom's multi-bil­lion dol­lar seafood in­dus­try, fol­low­ing ac­cu­sa­tions that re­forms had failed to check ram­pant labour abuses.

Thai­land is the world's fourth­largest ex­porter of seafood, sup­ply­ing ma­jor mar­kets across Europe, the US and Ja­pan.

But rights groups al­lege the lu­cra­tive in­dus­try is a hot­bed of abuse, with fleets ac­cused of ram­pant il­le­gal fish­ing and re­liance on traf­ficked work­ers from neigh­bour­ing coun­tries such as Myan­mar and Cam­bo­dia.

Thai­land's junta, which took power in 2014, launched a ma­jor clean-up cam­paign af­ter the Euro­pean Union threat­ened to ban all Thai seafood prod­ucts in 2015 un­less il­le­gal fish­ing and labour abuses were ad­dressed.

But a re­port re­leased by Hu­man Rights Watch last month said forced labour and other rights abuses re­mained "wide­spread" de­spite much-pub­li­cised gov­ern­ment re­forms.

It said re­forms have fo­cused on tack­ling il­le­gal fish­ing but done lit­tle to curb worker ex­ploita­tion, with ship in­spec­tions for labour abuses "largely a the­atri­cal ex­er­cise for in­ter­na­tional con­sump­tion."

Thai po­lice hit back claim­ing a suc­cess­ful crack­down has led to the pros­e­cu­tion of some 100 traf­fick­ing sus­pects and the res­cue of 160 vic­tims since May 2015, when the EU is­sued its "yel­low card" warn­ing.

Au­thor­i­ties have also seized li­cences of 4,242 trawlers for vi­o­la­tions in­clud­ing fish­ing in il­le­gal wa­ters and fail­ing to in­stall a new GPS mon­i­tor­ing sys­tem, ac­cord­ing to po­lice.

"Af­ter we got the yel­low card we im­ple­mented strict, up­dated laws on the fish­ing in­dus­try," said Jaru­vat Vaisaya, com­man­der of Thai po­lice's Law En­force­ment De­part­ment.

Thai­land is ex­pect­ing an up­dated as­sess­ment from the EU in April, he added.

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