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Govt defends damning rights report

The Foreign Ministry has defended the government"s efforts in tackling human trafficking following fresh criticism reported by Human Rights Watch (HRW), saying the advocate group"s report contains many outdated references.

HRW"s 134-page report, entitled "Hidden Chains: Forced Labour and Rights Abuses in Thailand"s Fishing Industry," was released at a briefing at the European Parliament on Tuesday.

The report touched on how migrant fishermen from Thailand"s neighbouring countries are often trafficked into fishing work, prevented from changing employers, not paid on time, and paid below the minimum wage.

According to HRW, it found widespread shortcomings in the new government regulations and resistance in the fishing industry to reforms. HRW"s Asia director Brad Adams also stressed although the Thai government is committed to cleaning up the industry, the problems of trafficked or forced labour are still "rampant".

He also urged the European Union (EU) and the United States to pile pressure on Thailand to protect the rights, health and safety of fishermen. Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Busadee Santipitaks yesterday insisted the labour issue is a separate matter from the EU"s consideration of the country"s efforts to clamp down on illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing.

The EU gave Thailand a "yellow card", or a final warning, in 2015 for its failure to effectively stop IUU fishing practices.

A ban on the export of processed seafood to Europe is likely if it eventually decides the country has failed to rectify these shortcomings.

"The ministry has sent a letter to the EU explaining how Thailand has dealt with illegal fishing, including opening centres dealing with the matter in the coastal provinces and data centre to enable information verification," Ms Busadee said.

She said the government has showed it is committed to tackling labour problems in the fishing industry, and rolled out various laws and policies and enforced them.

"This has changed the labour situation in the fishery industry, which has improved better in various aspects," Ms Busadee said.

"Most of the information mentioned in the report relates to the situation in 2016, with some dating back to 2012, which does not reflect the reality."

She said HRW"s advice in the report has already been implemented by the government.

"I want to appeal to the HRW to see Thailand"s labour situation in a balanced and unprejudiced way by not repeating old information which could cause misunderstandings about [Thailand"s] attempts to solve the problem," Ms Busadee said.

The ministry also issued a press release countering the HRW"s report yesterday.

It stresses the government has put great efforts into solving labour problems in the fishing industry over the past two years.

Ms Busadee said the report does not take into consideration current progress and efforts made by Thailand in solving labour problems.

She said one of the key steps that has changed the labour situation in the fishing industry is the implementation of the Royal Ordinance on Fisheries 2015.

source : https://www.bangkokpost.com/news/general/1401982/govt-defends-damning-rights-report


06:59 - 26/01/2018    /    Number : 697180    /    Show Count : 71







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