THAILAND – In its latest report, the Environmental Justice Foundation (EJF) reveals new evidence of human trafficking and the routine use of violence in the Thai fishing industry.
The report Slavery at Sea also highlights the failure of the Thai Government to identify and prosecute criminals, corrupt officials and unscrupulous business operators, or to enforce measures to regulate fishing fleets and recruitment practices.
EJF’s 2014 investigations have found that endemic corruption, poor enforcement, inadequate victim support, unacceptable working conditions and deficient migration policy have not been addressed since the organization 2013 report, Sold to the Sea.
The new report details the story of a Burmese migrant, Myo Min Naing, who was promised a “good job with overtime pay at a pineapple factory in Thailand” before being trafficked into the country. On the journey to the fishing vessel where he was forced to work on, three of the other Burmese migrants traveling with him were lost – including an elderly man who Myo Min Naing believes was murdered for refusing to go on.
He was compelled to work on the boat for 10 months without pay before he managed to escape. He and his fellow crew suffered abuse and violence at the hands of the boat’s captain, including one attack that left him partially deaf.
The report covers the stories of other victims and also revisits the case of the 14 men rescued from a port in Kantang in March 2013 (first documented in Sold to the Sea).
It was also revealed to EJF that business owners, the police, shelter staff, court officials and even judges routinely pressure victims of human trafficking to drop their cases and return home.
EJF is calling on the US State Department to consider downgrading Thailand to Tier 3 in its forthcoming 2014 Trafficking in Persons (TIP) report.
“The seafood industry has a crucial role to play in tackling this issue. We are calling on retailers and brands to commit to ensuring all seafood products are produced sustainably and without trafficked, forced or bonded labour,” Andy Hickman, EJF Oceans Campaigner told World Fishing & Aquaculture.
“Seafood companies should be encouraged to provide “net to plate” traceability to ensure that human rights abuses are identified and removed from every stage of production.”