THAILAND: The Government of Thailand is reinforcing measures to eliminate human trafficking in its fisheries industry, following claims of widespread abuse by a human rights group.
As part of thispoliticy, the country started using optical scanning technology to keep track of workers on fishing boats, labor ministry officials said. The government is also adopting measures for facial and fingerprint scanning.
Furthermore, they are working on amendments to the law, so that workers will not be forced to work for the same employer against their will.
One of the amendments is that migrant workers will not have to obtain permission from their employer to leave their positions and will be allowed to stay in the country for up to 30 days, from the current 15 days, while they seek new jobs.
The government started working in response to a Human Rights Watch report, which claimed the Thai government, one of the largest fishery exporters in the world, had "not taken the steps necessary to end forced labor and other serious abuses on fishing boats." The report revealed how fishermen were trafficked while they were out at sea, held against their will and were not paid on time or below minimum wage.
"The government under the leadership of Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-o-cha is committed to tackling the human trafficking and IUU, for the country's sustainability and to completely abolish the issues from Thailand," reported Labor Minister Adul Sangsingkeo.
In 2014, the European Union warned Thailand for IUU fishing practices and threatened to ban imports if measures were not taken.
That same year, the annual Trafficking in Person report published by the U.S. State Department downgraded Thailand to its lowest Tier 3 level, together with North Korea, citing human rights abuse in the fishery industry among other factors.
"We have put our best effort in every measure such as legal enforcement, the remedy for the victims, labor protection, seizing the assets of the violators, investigation, and prosecution," Labor Minister Adul said. "However, the results are in the hands of the evaluators."