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09BANGKOK853 Thai Government, Private Sector, and NGOs Engage on Trafficking in Fishing Industry

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“200312”,”4/2/2009 10:08″,”09BANGKOK853″,

“Embassy Bangkok”,”UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY”,””,”VZCZCXRO7464

PP RUEHCHI RUEHDT RUEHHM RUEHJO RUEHNH RUEHPOD

DE RUEHBK #0853/01 0921008

ZNR UUUUU ZZH

P 021008Z APR 09

FM AMEMBASSY BANGKOK

TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 6620

RUEHC/DEPT OF LABOR WASHDC PRIORITY

INFO RUEHCHI/AMCONSUL CHIANG MAI 6396

RUEHXI/LABOR COLLECTIVE

RUCNASE/ASEAN MEMBER COLLECTIVE”,”UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 BANGKOK 000853

Department for G/TIP CChan-Downer, DRL/IL MJunk

DOL/ILAB for Brandie Sasser

SENSITIVE

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A

TAGS: ELAB, PHUM, KTIP, TH

SUBJECT: Thai Government, Private Sector, and NGOs Engage on

Trafficking in Fishing Industry

BANGKOK 00000853 001.2 OF 002

Sensitive But Unclassified. For Official Use Only.

1. (SBU) Summary and Comment: Minister of Social Development and

Human Security Issara Somchai provided opening remarks March 25 at a

NGO-organized seminar on the problem of human trafficking in the

deep sea fishing industry. The Minister\’s participation, along with

that of multiple police officials and representatives from the

Ministries of Labor and Foreign Affairs, signaled the Royal Thai

Government\’s (RTG) recognition of the seriousness of the problem.

Private fishing industry representatives also attended the seminar,

allowing the proceedings to go beyond simple venting that sometimes

characterizes conferences attended only by civil society

representatives and social workers. The participation of private

sector representatives contributed to the growing dialogue among all

stakeholders on how to best combat the problem of human trafficking

in the fishing industry. End summary and comment.

2. (U) Laboff attended a March 25 seminar on human trafficking

(TIP) in the deep sea fishing industry, organized by the

non-governmental Mirror Foundation and financed by the International

Labor Organization (ILO) (NOTE: According to its website, the

non-profit Mirror Foundation, originally established to provide

broad assistance to ethnic minority \”hill tribe\” people in northern

Thailand, has expanded activities to provide assistance to human

trafficking victims. End Note). The approximately 75 participants

in the seminar represented various civil society organizations

(NGOs), the Royal Thai Government\’s (RTG) Ministry of Social

Development and Human Security (MSDHS), and Ministry of Foreign

Affairs (MFA). Twenty-nine representatives from the Ministry of

Labor\’s (MOL) provincial-level offices in areas known to be source

and destination areas for fishing industry workers also attended.

Importantly, the private fishing industry was also present,

represented by Titikorn Lohakoop, Secretary General of the Fishing

Association of Thailand, and Aphisit Techanitiswat, President of the

Deep Sea Fishing Association.

3. (SBU) In an showing of the seriousness with which the RTG takes

the issue, Minister of Social Development and Human Security Issara

Somchai provided opening remarks with a message of commitment to

prevent and to combat human trafficking in the fishing industry. He

told the audience that at the Anti-TIP Committee (ATP) meeting

chaired by the Prime Minister on February 23, the committee agreed

to set up a working group to look specifically at TIP in the fishing

industry. Wanlop Phloytabtim, the Permanent Secretary of MSDHS,

also spoke, emphasizing that the RTG recognizes the potential for

TIP in the industry. He noted that the RTG understands the serious

of the problem and said that Thai laborers usually shun fishing jobs

due to the difficult and sometimes dangerous nature of the work.

Wanlop explained that this generates a demand for foreign workers in

the industry who are often vulnerable to exploitation by labor

brokers willing to engage in trafficking.

4. (SBU) Two panel discussions with representatives from the

private sector, NGOs, police, MSDHS, and MOL followed, generating

discussion during a question and answer session. Interesting points

included those made by a representative from the Mirror Foundation:

– Most of the Foundation\’s cases of missing persons involve laborers

from deep sea fishing vessels.

– Most TIP victims from the deep sea fishing industry assisted by

he Foundation were lured to work on vessels with a promise of high

wages. If their vessel\’s crew failed to catch enough fish to make a

profit, captains sometimes declined to pay workers.

– Payments to workers usually entail fixed payments and payments

made through profit sharing agreements.

He pointed out what he considers key obstacles to the protection of

worker rights in the deep sea fishing industry:

– The Labor Protection Act does not provide protection to laborers

on oceanic fishing vessels who continuously work outside of Thailand

(e.g. in international waters) for more than one year. Workers in

the fishing industry do not have access to the government social

security system. (NOTE: Pornchai Yooprayong, the Deputy Permanent

Secretary of the MOL, (one of the panelists) stated he would study

the suggestion that the Labor Protection Act be revised to address

this problem. End Note).

– Most workers on fishing boats are migrants or poorly-educated

Thais who do not have knowledge of relevant laws or their rights.

Generally poor, they are often more interested in finding work, even

after being victimized, than assisting authorities with prosecution

efforts.

BANGKOK 00000853 002.2 OF 002

– Checks of vessels prior to their departure (by Immigration police,

Customs officials, Public Health officers, etc.) are not rigorously

carried out.

5. (SBU) In addition, an ILO representative stated that one-third

of the child labor cases in which it provides assistance involve the

fishing and fishing-related industries. A representative from the

MFA commented on the difficulty of coordinating with other nations

to assist Thai TIP victims abroad and explained that many

governments view TIP victims as illegal migrants who should be

penalized, not aided. The Secretary General of the Fishing

Association of Thailand noted that while TIP victims are sometimes

found on deep sea vessels, they are generally not found on

day-fishing boats, which generally employ Thai laborers. While

stating he recognizes the problem of TIP in his industry, the

President of the Deep Sea Fishing Association suggested the

government should provide assistance to boat owners to defray costs

(even if this implied increased regulation) so that owners do not

need to rely on cheap labor to turn a profit.

Written by thaicables

June 13, 2011 at 9:22 am

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