Will the US Impose Trade Sanctions on Thailand Over Human Trafficking?

by Editor | May 5, 2014 3:01 am

WILL THE US IMPOSE TRADE SANCTIONS ON THAILAND OVER HUMAN TRAFFICKING? – In just a few weeks time a US Government report on Trafficking In Persons (TIP) will be released and from the measure of the report there can be no doubt that Thai Officials are now worried that the US Government could downgrade their current 2nd Tier status to 3rd Tier status.

A 3rd Tier status is reserved for those countries that have made little or no effort to tackle the issues of human trafficking; it is an issue Thailand has long been accused of and yet for the last three years the President of the United States has taken it upon himself not to impose 3rd Tier status as this would unquestionably damage bilateral relations.

It is expected that the Thai Officials will be hard pressed to come up with any new measures it has taken in order to prevent human trafficking.

Recently Thailand has featured heavily on the news around the world after the Thai Royal Navy issued a writ of defamation under its Computer Crime Law to two journalists at Phuketwan.com after they cited a Pulitzer Prize winning article by Reuters regarding the ongoing human trafficking of the Rohingya whereby suspicion has fallen on the Thai Navy officers for allegedly being involved.

The prosecutor’s office in Phuket, Thailand, where Phuketwan.com is based, recently agreed to proceed with a criminal prosecution and as such has only heightened the unwanted media attention that could well fuel calls for the US to condemn Thailand to 3rd Tier status and impose trade sanctions.

As a direct result of this prosecution a number of Human Rights Groups and the media have rallied together in order to put more pressure on Thai Officials, not only to drop the case against Phuketwan.com but also to take positive measures in tackling human trafficking.

The issue of the Rohingya people stems from Myanmar (formerly Burma); they are a race who has been subjected to attacks and who are considered as illegal immigrants in the country despite being able to trace their heritage back nearly one thousand years.

Reports on the violence are often sketchy but a recent report by UN envoy on Myanmar, Vijay Nambiar, stated that some 280 people had lost their lives and a further 140,000 had been displaced.

In 2008 it was uncovered that the Thai Government had issued covert orders to the Royal Thai Navy to seek out and disable all boats carrying Rohingya refugees.

To this day the numbers that perished at sea, as a direct result of these orders, remain unknown but the practice, according to a number of Human Rights Groups, was prolific and could have result in the deaths of thousands of innocent men, women and children escaping the persecution in their own country.

When the President of the United State receives the report he will have to determine if Thailand has taken any measures to improve their deplorable track record; considering the ongoing condemnation by Human Rights Groups and the media it may well transpire that a pardon from the President this time round could not be justified.

Many may view a Tier 3 ranking as justified; after all if the Thai Government refuses to take positive measures and where many high ranking officials have been allegedly involved then maybe it’s time that the Thais learned the hard way.

Condemning Thailand to Tier 3 and thereafter imposing trade sanction would certainly hurt the Thai economy but which segment of the population would if ultimately affect?

The rich, poor divide in Thailand is cavernous with the middle classes making up just a very small percentage of the population.

The real money is control by the so-called ‘elite’ these are ultimately the people behind the scenes that control everything from the Government, Police and Armed Forces; some are in fact members of the Government.

Effectively the level of their wealth will shield them from any ramifications of trade sanction whilst the vast numbers of poor, mainly rural and factory workers will bear the brunt of any trade sanctions.

Thailand’s GDP is predominantly derived from its export market which in turn allows it to import energy; the issue here is that if Thailand doesn’t have the foreign reserves necessary to pay for its energy needs then those who live in what is seen as abject poverty will suffer even greater hardships.

Unquestionably trade sanctions could almost kill off foreign investment and see foreign based manufacturers closing shop which would put vast swathes of the population out of work; the overall ramifications are immense.

We are already witnessing yet again more political unrest, if trade sanctions were imposed those in power would blame it upon opposing sides of Government and indeed point the finger at the United State.

With trade sanctions in place it will undoubtedly hit the poor even harder and with millions being unemployed with no access to welfare it is, in the eyes of many, inevitable this will spill over into violence and possibly even civil war.

The results would be a country bathed in blood whilst the culpable simply transfer their vast wealth out of the country and leave on their private jets.

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