Thursday, June 05, 2008

New trafficking law for Thailand

From the BBC:

Thailand is set to introduce a new law in response to criticism it is still too lax in combating human trafficking.

The law, which strengthens protection for victims of trafficking, will be accompanied by a day of campaigning to raise public awareness of the problem.

Thailand attracts huge numbers of illegal migrants from poorer, neighbouring countries.

It is also an important transit route for people being trafficked in the East Asian region.

External Pressure

Thailand already has an anti-trafficking law - but it does not work very well.

The police often refuse to recognise abused migrants as victims of trafficking.

A case in point is that of the survivors of an incident two months ago in which 57 Burmese migrants suffocated in a container smuggling them into Thailand.

The police argued that they were illegal immigrants, jailed and then deported them.

The UN defines a trafficking victim as anyone who is transported for purposes of exploitation.

The new law will broaden the definition of victims to include men, and make it easier to prevent them from being summarily deported.

Thailand has come under strong international pressure to improve its treatment of migrants, especially from the United States.

There have been persistent reports of Burmese workers, including children, being exploited in the seafood processing industry, which exports around $2b (£1bn) worth of prawns to the US every year.

But changing the anti-trafficking law alone will not solve the problem.

Enforcing it requires the co-operation os a sometimes corrupt police force which activists say is itself involved in the business of smuggling illegal migrants.

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