HRW: Thailand must authorize UN investigation into human trafficking News
HRW: Thailand must authorize UN investigation into human trafficking

[JURIST] Human Rights Watch (HRW) [advocacy website] on Friday called on the Thai government to authorize a UN-assisted inquiry into human trafficking [press release] in Thailand. The discovery of more than 20 bodies of ethnic Rohingya Muslims [Reuters report] near an abandoned trafficking camp inspired the call. Rohingya migrants fleeing persecution from Myanmar and Bangladesh are often victimized by human trafficking networks, many of which are allegedly protected or supported by government officials. HRW has previously reported that human traffickers are allowed access to government-run shelters [HRW report] and on abuses suffered in those government-run shelters. However, Thai authorities do not permit the office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) [official website] to conduct refugee status determination screening of these Rohingya, which leaves room for many migrants to fall victim to traffickers.

Approximately 36 million people in the world live in a form of modern slavery [JURIST report], the Global Slavery Index (GSI) [advocacy website] reported [text, PDF] in November. For the purposes of the study, GSI defined modern slavery as involving “one person possessing or controlling another person in such as a way as to significantly deprive that person of their individual liberty, with the intention of exploiting that person through their use, management, profit, transfer or disposal.” Human trafficking [JURIST op-ed] plays a prominent role in supplying the labor in modern slavery. In March UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called for an end to modern slavery and human trafficking [JURIST report] during remarks at the unveiling of The Ark of Return, Memorial to the Victims of the Transatlantic Slave Trade. Earlier that month, UN human rights expert Maria Grazia Giammarinaro urged the Malaysian government to make improvements to its efforts to combat human trafficking [JURIST report]. In August, Kenya’s parliament passed a law providing greater support to victims of human trafficking [JURIST report]; the law will also make it easier to secure convictions for perpetrators.