TL:DR #2 Human Trafficking – Thailand’s Approach, External Observations

The U.S. has recently released a report in which there are a series of criticisms of Thailand’s recent approach to human trafficking and a downgrade of Thailand’s status in a tier system from Tier 2 to the Tier 2 Watchlist [1] (“US Report”).

Thailand’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs released a response criticising the basis of and the criteria used for the report [2] (“Thailand Response”).

In the US Report, it is acknowledged that “The Government of Thailand does not fully meet the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking but is making significant efforts to do so.” However, the US Report then goes on to state that efforts have decreased since 2019, that forced labour was prevalent among migrant workers in many industries in Thailand, and that the government identified a low number of labour trafficking victims compared to the scope of the problem.

The Thailand Response has stated the US Report is unfair, highlighting improvements such as improved efficacy of prosecutions, prevention measures to assist migrants during the COVID19 pandemic, new laws enacted to raise standards of living on fishing boats and to facilitate the sea book registration process for migrant fisheries workers.

Thailand uses several multiple legal instruments to combat Trafficking:

  • Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act B.E 2551 (2008) [3]
  • The Penal Code B.E. 2499 (1956)
  • The Criminal Procedure Code B.E. 2477 (1934)
  • The Child Protection Act B.E. 2546 (2003)
  • The Prevention and Suppression of Prostitution Act B.E. 2539 (1996)
  • The Anti-Money Laundering Act B.E. 2542 (1999)
  • The Witness Protection Act B.E. 2546 (2003)
  • The Labour Protection Act B.E. 2541 (1998)
  • The Extradition Act B.E. 2551 (2008)
  • International Co-operation in Criminal Matters Act B.E. 2535 (1992)

A very comprehensive analysis of the types of sophisticated acts of trafficking, the interplay between multiple participants and jurisdictions, and descriptions of cases of trafficking is presented by Khun Wanchai Roujanavong, Director General of the International Affairs Department, Office of the Attorney General in Thailand, holding the position from July 7, 2014, to September 30, 2015, in a paper entitled “Human Trafficking: A Challenge to Thailand and the World Community [4].

Reading this article and considering the context of the laws cited above, it is quickly apparent that there are many legal instruments that are at the disposal of Thailand and enforcement agencies. However, the international nature, the deceit, and the sophisticated nature of international and domestic criminals collaborating on planning, systems, and implementation of transnational crimes, means that resources are not always adequate to cope with such activities on a daily basis. The victims and potential victims of trafficking and related crimes deserve protective measures from society and states and progression and development of countermeasures and particularly preventative measures are critical in combatting criminal activities.

By reading and disseminating information on how trafficking networks operate, and educating others on their systems, some improvement and potential mitigation or avoidance may be one of the outcomes.

[1] Unites States Department of State 2021 Trafficking in Persons Report: Thailand (1 July 2021 see:

[2] Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Kingdom of Thailand Thailand’s Position on the U.S. State Department’s 2021 Trafficking in Persons Report (2 July 2021 see:

[3] See Thai version at:

and English Unofficial Translation at:,B.E._2551_(2008).pdf

[4] Wanchai Roujanavong Human Trafficking: A Challenge to Thailand and the World Community (United Nations Asia and Far East Institute For the Prevention of Crime and Treatment of Offenders, Resource Material No.87, Part Two: Work Product of the 150th International Senior Seminar

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