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PM takes TIP report in stride

Jul 29. 2015
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Foreign Ministry plants to send its response to the US

THE GOVERNMENT yesterday expressed its displeasure with the decision of the United States to keep Thailand at Tier 3 in its latest Trafficking in Persons (TIP) report, but it vowed to continue combating human trafficking to meet international standards.

Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha said his government would not convey its disappointment to Washington but would continue to comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking.
“It is all about the rules and international standard with which we have to comply. The problem has existed for a long time, so we have to solve it in all dimensions, including in legal aspects, working procedure and corruption,” he said. 
“Take it easy, we did our best. We don’t do for any particular person but for our own country. Making things such as our fishing sector legitimate in order to avoid conflict with foreign countries,” he said.
As the US recognised the government’s work and commitment, the status would be improved next year, he said.
Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Tanasak Patimapragorn said Thailand’s placement in Tier 3 does not accurately reflect the significant efforts undertaken by the government. The foreign ministry will send the US State Department a letter in response to the report, he said. 
Deputy Foreign Minister Don Pramuwinai said the placement of Thailand in Tier 3 might have some connection with the European Union’s illegal fishery consideration under the illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing (IUU). Some organisations from Europe wrote a letter asking the US to keep Thailand in Tier 3, he told a TV programme, but he was not sure if the letter was a deciding factor in Washington’s decision. 
However, Don said Thailand does not need to send any more explanations to the US over measures and action taken by the government as Washington has recognised Thailand’s commitment and mentioned it in the report. 
“The placement in Tier 3 would have no impact as we have already stayed at the level for one year, as the US has accepted what we have done,” he said. “I believe all good things will happen from now on.”
Government Deputy Spokesman Sansern Kaewkamnerd said the prime minister had briefed the Cabinet yesterday that he was not worried about the consequence of the TIP report and it would not discourage the government from continuing to combat human trafficking.
“We won’t worry about the placement but the US needs to explain its criteria and standards,” the spokesman said. Sansern said the government had investigated and prosecuted around 70 cases against corrupt officials, traffickers and others who were involved in trafficking since the announcement of the previous TIP report in 2014, and Bt100 billion worth of assets had been confiscated from wrongdoers.
“Thailand is the first country to initiate formal talks with other countries that are involved in trafficking within the region from the beginning of the problem, through the middle and until the end in order to find a common solution. The country’s commitment not to tolerate trafficking activities within the Kingdom has remained the same,” he said. 
Patrick Murphy, the US charge d’affaires in Thailand, said the placement had nothing to do with politics, but was about international standards and Thailand’s performance. 
“Therefore, comparing Malaysia to Thailand is like comparing apples to oranges. It is impossible to do so because each country has different circumstances,” he said, referring to criticism that Malaysia was upgraded due to a political deal over the Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiation. 
Malaysia was upgraded to Tier 2, which reflects its trafficking performance, he said. But it is still on the Tier 2 watchlist, signalling the country still has many challenges to overcome.
The US watchlist does require a certain amount of sanctions for countries that fall into the Tier 3 category. However, it has flexibility and the president has 90 days after the issue a favour, he said. 
The measures and actions taken by the government over the past few months have been encouraging as it managed to close smuggling camps and enact a new law on trafficking, he said. 
“We encourage Thailand to maintain this momentum and to remain committed to solving the problem of combating human trafficking,” Murphy added. 

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