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Human Trafficking

Ministries aim to lessen impact of TIP downgrade

THREE MINISTRIES are working together to help lessen the impact on Thailand after the country was downgraded in the United States' latest annual "Trafficking in Persons" (TIP) report.

The ministries of Labour, Commerce and Foreign Affairs will seek to have Thailand removed from the US blacklist of imports on garments, sugar cane, processed shrimp and fish, said Puntrik Smiti, deputy permanent secretary of the Labour Ministry.

She said yesterday that a memorandum of understanding would be made with the private-sector groups representing those four industries for improvement in working conditions and a reduction in child labour.

Puntrik yesterday chaired a meeting of officials from the three ministries as well as trade associations from the relevant sectors at the Labour Ministry to discuss measures in response to the TIP report.

Songsak Saichuea, director-general of the Foreign Affairs Ministry's Department of American and South Pacific Affairs, said a short-term measure called for Thailand to submit to the US reports on what had been done in the fight against human trafficking, particularly regarding child labour.

This was aimed at convincing the US that the garment, sugar-cane, processed-shrimp and fishery industries should be removed from the blacklist, said Songsak, who was one of the meeting participants.

The US Department of State last Friday downgraded Thailand, Malaysia and Venezuela to Tier 3, the lowest class, for poor records in their efforts to fight human trafficking in their countries. With the downgrade, Thailand risks US economic sanctions.

General Prayuth Chan-ocha, leader of the military's ruling National Council for Peace and Order, has expressed concern over the possible negative impact on Thailand of the TIP report, said Yongyuth Mayalarp, a spokesman for the junta.

Prayuth has instructed the ministries of Foreign Affairs, Labour and Public Health to take appropriate action in response to the US downgrade, the spokesman said.


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