Worldwide concerns over Thailand’s overlooked slavery issue

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thai_forced_labour“I saw others beaten with different instruments, with things like a wooden rod or things like that… the senior crew attacked workers with knives. And some got killed and their bodies were thrown into the sea.” an unnamed worker, describing the conditions of forced labour, told the Environmental Justice Foundation (EJF), a UK-based nonprofit organisation with goals aiming towards protecting the environment and upholding human rights. An investigative report by the EJF stated that Cambodian and Myanmar migrant workers have been forced into slave labor aboard Thai fishing boats.

The report, “Sold to the Sea: Human Trafficking in Thailand’s Fishing Industry,” was released June 26, 2013 and documented that 15 Burmese workers on shrimping boats in Kantang, were allegedly beaten and abused by a Thai fishing crew, who forced them to work more than 20 hours per day, with obligatory detention and little to no pay.

A recent United Nations study found that 59 per cent of surveyed migrants who had been trafficked onto Thai fishing boats had seen first-hand a fellow co-worker being murdered by the boat’s senior crew or captain, the foundation said.

“EJF has uncovered a huge number of pirate fishing operators and criminal businesses actively using forced and trafficked workers on their boats as a way to maximise their profits,” Steve Trent, the foundation’s executive director, said in a statement. “There are no excuses for this modern day slavery and governments and business must come together to stamp it out.”

Now, the EJF is calling upon the US to demote Thailand in the state department’s annual Trafficking in Persons report, a system that ranks countries on a three-tiered scale based off the volume of human trafficking. The report, due out in July of 2013, has rated Thailand on the second-tier watch list for three consecutive years.

US officials have continuously warned Thailand for years to rid its $7.3 billion fisheries export industry of these abuses. Despite these practices being carried out on lawless and ungoverned seas, these crimes raise the risk of damaging exports in trade to supermarkets in America, where one in six pounds of seafood is imported from Thailand.

These ongoing abuses of labour have hurt Thailand’s reputation of labour practices. Giving Thailand a time limit of one year, the US State Department expects the country to firmly address and tackle trafficking organizations, or else be faced with sanctions that will damage Thailand’s economy.

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Reading Time: 2 minutes

“I saw others beaten with different instruments, with things like a wooden rod or things like that… the senior crew attacked workers with knives. And some got killed and their bodies were thrown into the sea.” an unnamed worker, describing the conditions of forced labour, told the Environmental Justice Foundation (EJF), a UK-based nonprofit organisation with goals aiming towards protecting the environment and upholding human rights. An investigative report by the EJF stated that Cambodian and Myanmar migrant workers have been forced into slave labor aboard Thai fishing boats.

Reading Time: 2 minutes

thai_forced_labour“I saw others beaten with different instruments, with things like a wooden rod or things like that… the senior crew attacked workers with knives. And some got killed and their bodies were thrown into the sea.” an unnamed worker, describing the conditions of forced labour, told the Environmental Justice Foundation (EJF), a UK-based nonprofit organisation with goals aiming towards protecting the environment and upholding human rights. An investigative report by the EJF stated that Cambodian and Myanmar migrant workers have been forced into slave labor aboard Thai fishing boats.

The report, “Sold to the Sea: Human Trafficking in Thailand’s Fishing Industry,” was released June 26, 2013 and documented that 15 Burmese workers on shrimping boats in Kantang, were allegedly beaten and abused by a Thai fishing crew, who forced them to work more than 20 hours per day, with obligatory detention and little to no pay.

A recent United Nations study found that 59 per cent of surveyed migrants who had been trafficked onto Thai fishing boats had seen first-hand a fellow co-worker being murdered by the boat’s senior crew or captain, the foundation said.

“EJF has uncovered a huge number of pirate fishing operators and criminal businesses actively using forced and trafficked workers on their boats as a way to maximise their profits,” Steve Trent, the foundation’s executive director, said in a statement. “There are no excuses for this modern day slavery and governments and business must come together to stamp it out.”

Now, the EJF is calling upon the US to demote Thailand in the state department’s annual Trafficking in Persons report, a system that ranks countries on a three-tiered scale based off the volume of human trafficking. The report, due out in July of 2013, has rated Thailand on the second-tier watch list for three consecutive years.

US officials have continuously warned Thailand for years to rid its $7.3 billion fisheries export industry of these abuses. Despite these practices being carried out on lawless and ungoverned seas, these crimes raise the risk of damaging exports in trade to supermarkets in America, where one in six pounds of seafood is imported from Thailand.

These ongoing abuses of labour have hurt Thailand’s reputation of labour practices. Giving Thailand a time limit of one year, the US State Department expects the country to firmly address and tackle trafficking organizations, or else be faced with sanctions that will damage Thailand’s economy.

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