Thailand has ratified an ASEAN trafficking convention in what Thai officials say is another boost for the country’s troubled record in the field.
Thailand’s trafficking record has come under increased scrutiny in recent years, with mass graves in Thailand and across the border in Malaysia grabbing international attention last year and the country again receiving the lowest ranking in the U.S. annual Trafficking in Persons (TIP) report in 2015. Thai officials say they have since been working hard to improve their record, with the country being upgraded in this year’s report.
On July 24, Thai Foreign Minister Don Pramudwinai deposited the Instrument of Ratification for the ASEAN Convention Against Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children (ACTIP) with ASEAN Secretary General Le Luong Minh. ACTIP was the region’s first legally binding instrument to combat human trafficking and was signed by ASEAN leaders during the ASEAN Summit in Kuala Lumpur last November.
Thai officials say the ratification is a key indication of the government’s attention to the human trafficking problem.
“The ratification of the Convention affirms Thailand’s continued commitment to combating human trafficking and is consistent with the Government’s policy which declared fighting human trafficking as a national agenda,” the Thai foreign ministry said in a statement.
“It also underscores the Government’s commitment to cooperate with ASEAN Member States to jointly combat this crime.”
Though the recent TIP report, released last month, noted “significant efforts” by the Thai government to eliminate human trafficking, including more investigations, prosecutions, and convictions as well as changes in legislation, it also cited evidence of continued trafficking in several industries as well as government complicity in some cases. Rights groups had criticized the upgrade as being premature and politically motivated.
ACTIP will enter into force after six ASEAN countries have deposited the instrument of ratification of the Convention. Thailand is the third country within the regional grouping to have ratified it.