Thailand disappointed with US trafficking downgrade

Disappointed with US` decision to downgrade it for failing to combat human trafficking, Thailand today said it was not right for one country to use its yardstick to judge the performance of another nation.

PTI| Last Updated: Jun 21, 2014, 14:04 PM IST

Bangkok: Disappointed with US` decision to downgrade it for failing to combat human trafficking, Thailand today said it was not right for one country to use its yardstick to judge the performance of another nation.

The US downgraded Thailand to the bottom of a list of countries that failed to fight modern-day slavery, in a its annual assessment released yesterday.

Foreign affairs ministry`s permanent secretary Sihasak Phuangketkeow said: "It is not right for one country to use its yardstick to judge the performance of another country."

"The decision is most regrettable...Thailand is disappointed and respectfully disagreed with the State Department`s decision," he said.

The report by US State Department underscored trafficking in Thailand`s garment, seafood, and sex industries and put the country in the lowest rank, "tier 3," -- a designation which could trigger US sanctions within 90 days.

Phuangketkeow called on the State Department to reconsider its decision, noting that ridding Thailand of human trafficking problems was a priority for the junta, which now controls the country. The democratically elected government in Thailand was overthrown in a May 22 army coup.

"I do know Thailand is doing better in fighting human trafficking than the other countries in the Tier 3 category," he said.

"We are adhering to human rights and humanitarian principles. We are not doing it to respond to any ranking of any countries."

Two other countries -- Malaysia and Venezuela -- accompanied Thailand in the list. The downgrading puts Thailand along side countries such as Iran, North Korea, Russia and Saudi Arabia. A total of 23 countries received that ranking.

By conservative estimates, there are tens of thousands of trafficking victims in Thailand, majority of which are from neighbouring countries and are forced or coerced into domestic work, and exploited in the sex trade, the report noted.

The International Labour Organisation estimates trafficking annually generates about USD 150 billion in profits, of which USD 99 billion goes to the sex industry.