US urges ‘Team Thailand’ to help trafficking victims systematically
The United States wants Thai state agencies to cooperate in helping human-trafficking victims more systematically and effectively, a senior police officer who visited Washington to defend Thailand said.
Assistant police chief Pol Lt-General Surachate Hakpal, who led a police team that was part of the Thai delegation, said the US State Department wanted the help offered to human-trafficking victims to have tangible results.
Surachate told the press on Monday that the US wants Thai government agencies to work together as “Team Thailand” to efficiently tackle human-trafficking issues.
The delegation, led by Chettaphan Maksamphan, director-general of the Department of American and South Pacific Affairs, also included representatives from the Labour Ministry, Social Development and Human Security Ministry, Foreign Ministry and some private organisations.
The team was in Washington from May 15 to 18 to defend Thailand’s efforts to fight human trafficking and forced labour after the US downgraded the Kingdom from Tier 2 to Tier 2 Watchlist in July last year.
Tier 2 Watchlist refers to countries whose governments do not fully comply with the minimum standards of the US Trafficking Victims Protection Act but are making significant efforts to comply with the standards. In February, Deputy PM General Prawit Wongsuwan expressed hope that Thailand would soon be upgraded.
Meanwhile, Surachate said the Thai delegation told their US counterparts that the Thai government is committed to tackling the issue of human trafficking.
It also reported the progress made in tackling trafficking crimes and efforts to help victims, as well as the progress in legal action against traffickers, Surachate said.
He said US State Department officials expressed interest in the progress report and asked questions about several details, especially about the human-trafficking victims who were rescued in Cambodia and the United Arab Emirates.
The Thai delegation informed US officials that the number of cases against human traffickers has risen exponentially. The number of cases rejected by the court has also significantly dropped thanks to cooperation with public prosecutors. He said data on legal proceedings against traffickers pleased the US officials, adding that the delegation also proposed that the human-trafficking problem be considered a regional issue.
The delegation explained that Thailand is just a transit point, not the origin or destination of trafficked persons.
Surachate added that the trip was successful because the exchange of information and opinions helped the US side understand Thailand’s determination in fighting human trafficking.
He said the US State Department learned that Thailand has made progress in integrating government agencies to fight crimes and help trafficking victims.
He believes the trip has helped improve Thailand’s image and now it can be seen as a country trying to solve this trafficking issue.