The latest Trafficking in Persons Report has renewed the focus on international efforts to combat human trafficking and modern-day slavery.
The annual report produced by the US State Department compiles research and recommendations which ranks nation’s efforts to combat human trafficking.
The Uniting Church synod of Victoria and Tasmania has joined a host of advocacy groups affirming the report’s recommendations concerning Thai authorities.
In a joint letter to US Secretary of State, John Kerry, advocacy groups including the UCA welcomed the ongoing pressure on Thai authorities to take action on human trafficking.
The joint letter draws attention to Thailand’s current response to human trafficking and the need to make significant reforms in the region.
The letter states:
“…high-profile global media exposés of human trafficking in Thailand’s fishing industry have together produced an unprecedented level of international pressure on Thailand to address its significant human trafficking problem. The Thai government has demonstrated its willingness to respond to that pressure, and has taken a few encouraging actions.”
The coalition of advocacy groups has also condemned Thailand’s use of the criminal defamation and Computer Crimes Act to prosecute journalists and human rights defenders.
As previously reported in Crosslight, Phuket-based Australian journalist Alan Morison is, along with Thai journalist Chutima Sidasathian, facing defamation charges. The charges relate to publishing reports of Thai Royal Navy authorities being complicit in human trafficking in Thailand.
As editor of Phuketwan Mr Morison has written extensively on the fate of Rohingya trafficked in the region.
This month Mr Morison, Ms Sidasathian, and migrant rights defender Andy Hall are all facing court proceedings.
“If they are found guilty, it will have a chilling impact on the ability of trafficking victims to speak out and seek justice,” the letter said.
“Thailand should not be prosecuting journalists and activists for doing their jobs, and these court trials belie Thailand’s claims that it is working with civil society to address human trafficking issues.”
Commenting on the report, Justice and International Mission unit director Dr Mark Zirnsak said pressure needed to be sustained to combat human trafficking in the region.
“The US Government is to be commended for keeping pressure on the Thai Government to take meaningful actions to curb human trafficking.
“Thailand should only be upgraded in the ‘Trafficking in Persons Report’ when it takes measures that have a significant impact on ending these terrible human rights abuses.”
Image via Rohingyana: Rohingya people are an ethnic minority from Myanmar who often flee persecution only to fall victim to human traffickers.