Thai / English

Get tough on firms trafficking migrant workers, US official urges

LUIS CdeBaca, ambassador at large for the US State Department's Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons, urged Thailand yesterday to impose harsh sentences on employers found guilty of trafficking migrant workers.
Thammarat Kitchalong
07 Aug 13
The Nation

The Anti-Human Trafficking Act calls for four to 10 years in prison and fines of Bt80,000-Bt200,000 against those convicted of such offences.

CdeBaca said the US would send an advisory team to help improve the Thai Labour Ministry's worker-inspection system and human-trafficking prosecution process, which he said was rather slow, not strict enough, and encouraged employers to repeatedly commit trafficking offences.

Expressing concern over the seizure of migrant workers' passports and docking of their pay to cover middlemen's commissions, CdeBaca suggested the ministry - which is unable to cover all sites employing migrants due to labour staff shortages -enlist the help of police to inspect factories and ensure the timely arrest of offending employers.

CdeBaca urged stricter controls on employment agencies, some of which charge Thai workers placed in jobs overseas fees so high they fall within the framework of human-trafficking offences.

He also urged the government to ensure that a good worker-protection system was in place before it proceeds with its plan to import 50,000 Bangladeshis to work in the Thai fishery industry.

Admitting that most employers faced only fines and civil lawsuits, Labour Ministry permanent secretary Somkiat Chayasriwon said he would talk to the minister about stricter measures and criminal charges for those who commit human trafficking. He would also talk with the departments of Employment and Labour Protection and Welfare about a probe into agencies that overcharge Thais for placement in overseas jobs, and the possibility of prosecuting these agencies under the criminal code.