This document contains the Seafood Working Group (SWG)’s comments concerning Thailand’s ranking in the United States Department of State’s upcoming 2021 Trafficking in Persons (TIP) Report. The SWG is a global coalition of labor, human rights, and environmental non-governmental organizations collaborating to hold governments and companies accountable and drive change. COVID-19 further exposed the systematic discrimination facing migrant workers in Thailand. Policies and employer practices that were unchecked by the government prevented migrant workers from accessing social security benefits and in some cases medical care during COVID-19. Nearly a year since COVID-19 hit Thailand, the government has failed to address these issues. Leaving people without employment and access to social protections increases their vulnerability exponentially to human trafficking.
The SWG recommends that Thailand be downgraded to the Tier 2 Watch List ranking since it has not met the minimum standards as set forth in the U.S. Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA) of 2000 and there has been a deterioration of rights related to the government’s COVID-19 policies.
This report documents the government’s failure to make progress in the following key areas:
- Identification and protection of victims, as well as prosecution of perpetrators, of labor trafficking and forced labor;
- Countering corruption and complicity in human trafficking among government officials on the Thailand-Myanmar border;
- Promotion and protection of the rights to freedom of association and collective bargaining for all workers, and government actions inhibiting the exercise of these rights;
- Ending employer retaliation and judicial harassment of workers, trade unionists and labor rights defenders who seek to organize, bargain and report labor rights abuses;
- Prohibiting recruitment fees and related costs charged to migrants to prevent debt bondage; and
- Ensuring adequate labor and social protection for vulnerable groups of workers, including sea fishery, agriculture, domestic and informal sector workers.