January 17, 2013 00:00 By Thammarat Kijchalong,
Envoys from 24 countries visited the Thai Royal Frozen Food Co Ltd in Samut Sakhon Muang district yesterday to study progress on solving child labour and human-trafficking issues in the fishing industry.
Their visit comes after the country was placed on the US Tier 2 Watch List for three years in a row for alleged human-rights abuses in the fishing industry.
Tier 2 countries are those whose governments do not fully comply with the US State Department’s basic standards, but are making significant efforts to lift their record.
Foreign Minister Surapong Towichukchaikul and Social Development and Human Security Minister Santi Promphat led the diplomats to the site yesterday.
Samut Sakhon Governor Chulapat Saengchan and Thai Royal Frozen Food executive Ampai Hankraiwailai explained the company’s procedure, to prove that it is not guilty of using child labour or human-trafficking victims as charged. The group also visited Sor Sompol shrimp-processing factory.
After the visit, Surapong said the envoys were satisfied with the implementation of measures, especially the Royal Thai Police’s operation centre to prevent human trafficking. They want to follow up in six months.
Earlier, Chulapat, officials and fishery representatives held a video conference with the foreign diplomats about the province’s measures against human trafficking, which included signing an MoU with operators and providing schooling for immigrant workers’ children.
Samut Sakhon is among the seven pilot provinces for agencies working to tackle human-trafficking, including the setting up of a fishery workers coordination centre. The other provinces are Rayong, Trat, Chumphon, Songkhla, Ranong and Satun.
Thai Frozen Foods Association president Phanitsuan Chamnan-wet said the association had called on all members to stop child and forced labour within two years, and 80 per cent had already complied.