Despite claims by the Thai military government that it had taken sufficient steps to have the country removed from the United States ‘Tier 3’ list of worst offenders in the world for human trafficking – the country has done absolutely nothing to improve its reputation in the fishing industry, it was claimed today.

The Environmental Justice Foundation in London has published a scathing report indicating that not only had the authorities done nothing; but worse than that they had arrested foreigners for human rights abuses while ignoring the offenders on their doorstep.

The EJF report ‘Broken Promises: Why Thailand should stay on Tier 3 in the 2015 Trafficking in Persons Report’ lists a number of abuses over the last 12 months in Thailand’s fishing industry.

And the EJF “consistently found that the Thai Government’s anti-trafficking efforts have been characterised by failure to improve victim identification, shockingly inadequate victim protection and support, weak enforcement and endemic corruption.”

The government had failed to:

“Since 2014, trafficking victims have reported abuse, even in Ministry of Social Development and Human Security (MSDHS) shelters designated to offer protection to victims. 

“Reports of assault, threats at gunpoint and beatings by shelter staff leading to severe injuries, have been recorded (EJF interviews with trafficking victims and Myanmar government officials, 2014). Corruption still seriously undermines Thailand’s efforts to combat trafficking, while Thailand’s Prime Minister and other senior Ministers have publicly acknowledged the involvement of state officials in trafficking into the fishing industry,” said

All of this is of course totally contrary to a statement made by Don Pramudwinai, Deputy Minister of Thailand’s Foreign Affairs, last month claiming that substantial progress has been made, especially regarding anti-trafficking legislation, inspections of fishing vessels and the registration of migrant workers.

In fact the EJF points out that the Thai government gave absolutely no more financial resources so that boats could be inspected.

So who is telling the truth? The Thai Government of EJF, Natural Fruit or Finnwatch and Andy Hall? The Royal Thai Navy or Reuters and Phuketwan?

The full EJF report is here