Cablegate: Thailand's New Tip Law: Notable Progress After Six Months

DE RUEHBK #3588/01 3440717
P 090717Z DEC 08


Department for G/TIP MTaylor, DRL/IL MJunk
DOL/ILAB for Jennifer Piorkowski and Brandie Sasser


E.O. 12958: N/A


BANGKOK 00003588 001.2 OF 004

Sensitive But Unclassified. For Official Use Only.

REFS: A) 07 Bangkok 6093 B) Bangkok 3529 C) Chiang Mai 126 D)
Bangkok 2836 E) 07 Bangkok 5990

1. (SBU) Summary: In the six months since its new Anti-Trafficking
in Persons (TIP) Act came into force, the Royal Thai Government
(RTG) has taken substantial steps to implement the law. The RTG is
developing subordinate regulations to make the law's provisions
operational, and has identified $1.7 million to endow a new anti-TIP
fund available to government and non-governmental organizations.
The RTG is establishing exclusively for male TIP victims four new
shelters, one of which is already in use. With the help of members
of civil society, relevant RTG ministries have published guidelines
to improve the victim identification process as well as TIP
operations specifically targeting labor trafficking cases. Thai law
enforcement and civilian officials have trained thousands of
individuals on the new TIP law, including police officers,
prosecutors, social workers, and members of civil society. Still,
additional work needs to be done before all aspects of the new law
are fully implemented, including improving the ability of TIP
victims to work while their cases proceed through the legal system.
Nonetheless, leading NGOs in the field applaud the RTG's efforts
thus far and hope they will provide improved operational results,
not only in the areas of prevention and protection, but also in the
area of criminal prosecution. End summary.

2. (SBU) Comment: Given the broad and complicated scope of the new
law, the RTG seems to be doing what it needs to be doing to this
point, especially in the area of prosecution: putting a new tool in
the hands of the law enforcement community so that it can increase
criminal punishments. We also view the RTG's decision to keep
families of male TIP victims unified in a shelter to be a promising
sign of the new law's positive implementation (especially its
provisions on men and forced labor) and of improved treatment of
victims. We are still waiting for concrete results, particularly
with regard to prosecutions, but overall the RTG effort to implement
the new law seems to be on track. End Comment.

3. (SBU) Thailand's new Anti-Trafficking in Persons (TIP) Act came
into effect on June 5, 2008. The comprehensive law criminally
prohibits all forms of TIP, including forced child labor, other
forms of forced labor, and -- for the first time -- the trafficking
of males (ref a). The law provides the basis for an improved
anti-TIP architecture within the Royal Thai Government (RTG) and new
tools to combat trafficking. In the six months since it came into
force, the RTG has taken substantial steps to see that the TIP law
is implemented and effectively put to use by officials at the
national, regional, and local level. The law's implementation
remains an on-going process that will require the dedication of
financial resources, continued coordination between multiple parts
of the RTG and with civil society, and the focus of policy makers
within the government.

4. (U) The following is a snap-shot of RTG anti-TIP efforts to
implement the new TIP law since it came into force on June 5. It
includes specific activities to make certain aspects of the law
operational as well as to promote its usage by governmental and
non-governmental actors within Thailand. It also includes related
activities that began after the law was enacted in December 2007 and
that continue today. Activities are organized thematically,
including operational activities (administrative and other
requirements for the law to be applied in practice), prevention,
protection, and prosecution. Also provided are general impressions
of the RTG's efforts and specific areas on which increased attention
appears to be needed.

Operational Activities
5. (SBU) The new TIP law calls for the establishment of two
national committees to focus ministerial-level political
decision-making with regard to anti-TIP efforts: an Anti-Trafficking
in Persons Committee (ATP) chaired by the Prime Minister and a
Coordinating and Monitoring of Anti-Trafficking in Persons Committee
(CMP) chaired by a Deputy Prime Minister. The law also elevates the
responsibility for coordinating the RTG's anti-TIP efforts to the
office of the Permanent Secretary for Social Development and Human
Security within the Ministry of Social Development and Human
Security (MSDHS) (the anti-TIP coordinating responsibility
previously fell to an office one level lower). This office,
currently led by the Deputy Permanent Secretary, is also assigned to
be the secretariat of the two national committees. According to a
MSDHS official December 2, the RTG has set-up the committees in
question but, due to Thailand's ongoing political instability (ref
b), the committees' first meetings have been delayed. The MSDHS
officials stated they expect the first meetings to be held in the

BANGKOK 00003588 002.2 OF 004

first quarter of 2009.

6. (U) The MSHDS has also created a CMP sub-committee to develop
subordinate regulations to the new TIP Law, essential to its
effective implementation. The sub-committee consists of government
officials from relevant agencies, academics, and representatives
from civil society. The six implementing regulations developed thus
far aim to:
- establish rules regarding the protection and usage of documents or
information related to TIP offenses,
- establish norms on the registration of non-governmental
organizations (NGOs) and the assistance they provide during anti-TIP
- establish, and manage the operation of, an Anti-Trafficking in
Persons Fund to finance anti-TIP programs of the RTG, provincial
governments, police, NGOs, and others.
- improve the provision of temporary protection for trafficking
- establish rules governing TIP victim assistance, repatriation, and
compensation, and
- define "competent official" to determine which official has
authority to perform certain duties under the law.
The first of the six regulations has already come into effect,
while the second and third are expected to be submitted to the CMP
for approval in February 2009. The fourth and fifth are being
reviewed by the sub-committee. The sixth has been approved by the
RTG cabinet and awaits review by the Council of State. (Note:
Depending on under which section of the TIP law they fall, the
different implementing regulations require approval at different
levels of the RTG before coming into force. End Note).

7. (U) To raise awareness on TIP issues, the RTG declared June 5 as
National Anti-Human Trafficking Day. MSDHS organized "public
dialogues" in seven provinces throughout Thailand to raise awareness
within the general public. It also sponsored a television
advertisement to raise awareness on the various forms of human
trafficking (e.g., forced labor (including child labor), forced
begging, forced prostitution, etc). The ministry targeted
additional anti-TIP public awareness campaigns in both transport
stations and high risk areas (Bangkok's main train station, various
bus and shuttle bus terminals, and the tourist district in the city
of Pattaya.

8. (SBU) To protect male victims of trafficking, able to be
classified as such since the new law came into force, the RTG is
establishing four new shelters exclusively for men. One of them, in
Thailand's central region province of Pathumtani, began operations
in October 2008. The other three shelters are being set up in
Chiang Rai (Northern region), Songkla (Southern region), and Ranong
(Eastern region) during the 2009 fiscal year. MSDHS officials
report that two families of male victims of trafficking are
currently residing in the Pathumthani shelter, instead of being
forcibly separated from the victims while they are within the RTG's
care (Note: Prior to the new TIP law, the forced separation of
families was common place since women and children victims of
trafficking were considered differently under the law. End
note.)End Note.)

9. (U) The RTG has developed "Guidelines on Trafficked Victim
Identification" for use by police officers, immigration officers,
social workers and members of civil society to better identify
potential trafficked victims under the new law. The guidelines, in
the form of a questionnaire to be used while interviewing a
potential victim during or after an anti-TIP operation, provide a
framework for interviewing officials to have a clearer understanding
of what defines a TIP victim. The guidelines state that a person
can be a victim of trafficking even if he/she originally
participated voluntarily in the activity in question and regardless
of one's immigration or worker registration status. They also
explain that debt bondage is considered a type of human trafficking,
and instruct that various types of supporting evidence should be
considered when identifying trafficked victims (i.e., evidence of
physical abuse or psychological trauma, etc.).

10. (U) The Ministry of Labor (MOL), working with other concerned
ministries, developed "Operational Guidelines for Labor
Trafficking," formally agreed upon in April 2008. The guidelines
were established to improve coordination among members of
multi-disciplinary teams, both government and non-government
officials, during labor trafficking operations (i.e., rescue and
protection). MOL contacts report that trainings on these guidelines
are being planned for officials within the ministry. In addition,

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groupings of provincial governments in Thailand's central region
signed two Memoranda of Understanding (MOUs) regarding the
coordination of procedures during regional anti-TIP activities,
including rescues and protection (the MOU covering the lower central
region was signed in May; that of the upper central region in July).
With these two new regional MOUs, Thailand now has provincial-level
anti-TIP MOUs covering all 76 provinces (those for the northeast and
east were signed in 2006 and those for the north and south in 2007).

11. (SBU) To improve the prosecution of TIP cases, the RTG is
conducting numerous training activities to explain the new anti-TIP
Act to law enforcement officers, prosecutors, civilian government
officials, and NGO counterparts. As an example, the Royal Thai
Police and MSDHS co-conducted for police officers numerous one-day
trainings that focused on the Anti-TIP law and victim identification
process. MSDHS reports that 2,500 police received training in FY
2008 and that an additional 2,500 will be reached in FY 2009. The
Center against International Human Trafficking (CAHT) of the Office
of Attorney General (OAG) has conducted eight training sessions on
the Anti-TIP law for public prosecutors in eight of its ten
geographic districts. The OAG expects to conduct an additional two
trainings for the other districts in FY 2009. In addition, the head
of the CAHT has stated that one hundred sixty prosecutors have
voluntarily signed up for a "Prosecutor Network to Combat Human
Trafficking," promoted during this training. (Note: While the
Department's 2008 TIP report states that CAHT has eight full-time
attorneys coordinating the prosecution of Thailand's trafficking
cases, in actuality, CAHT only has part-time staff who are dedicated
to training efforts. End Note).

12. (U) To support law enforcement work, MSDHS, in collaboration
with NGOs and public prosecutors, continues to train law enforcement
officers, prosecutors, civilian government officials, and NGO
counterparts on the new TIP law and the multi-disciplinary team
approach to TIP prevention, protection, and prosecution. According
to MSDHS, approximately 80 people have been trained using a
curriculum updated since the new law came into force. These
training sessions, some of which Embassy officials have attended,
generally last three to five days with the goal of developing
personal networks among attendees to improve their coordination
efforts. From 2006 to the new law's coming into force in June,
MSDHS trained an additional 706 individuals on victim protection and

13. (SBU) Ref c reported on a TIP case in Payao in northern
Thailand, likely the first arrest in a TIP case since the new
Anti-TIP Act came into force. According to the Chiang Mai-based NGO
Anti-Trafficking Coordination Unit - Northern Thailand (TRAFCORD), a
pretrial hearing was conducted in the case on October 17 and 18.
Criminal investigations or court proceedings continue in other TIP
cases, including those that pre-date the new TIP law's coming into
force, such as the Anoma case (ref d) and Ranya Paew case (ref e).
However, according to the OAG, the new law is not retroactive. As
such, prosecutors can only pursue criminal prosecutions in these
cases using other relevant sections of Thai law.

Work Remains Undone But Garners Some Praise
14. (SBU) RTG officials understand their work remains unfinished,
such as with regard to the new anti-TIP fund. An official in the
office of the Permanent Secretary of MSDHS stated December 2 that
the fund, for which 60 million baht (approximately USD 1.8 million)
has been identified, should be up by March 2009 and available to
finance anti-TIP activities as called for under the law. MSDHS also
expects that by February 2009 the RTG will complete an evaluation of
the first phase of its National Plan of Action to combat human
trafficking (2006-2008), which shall be used to adjust the RTG's
efforts as needed. With regard to prosecution, an OAG official
stated the institution plans to develop a manual on human
trafficking for use as a guideline for provincial-level public
prosecutors. In addition, MSHDS counterparts believe additional
subordinate regulations need to be drafted and pushed through the
approval process. They note that Thailand's political turmoil, with
frequent changes of government and corresponding delays to
policy-making, has slowed this process.

15. (SBU) One additional area that appears to require particular
attention is the provision of the right to work for trafficking
victims. According to the new law, victims of TIP crimes are
eligible to work while their case proceeds through the courts.
While some victims are engaged in income generating activities
within the government shelters in which they reside, the RTG has not
yet developed a system through which victims (many of whom are

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undocumented migrants) can work outside the shelters. TIP experts
in NGOs have suggested the first step toward making this possible,
should the RTG intend to do so, would be the provision of
identification cards. Victims could use these cards to leave the
shelters unsupervised and do so without being deported, should they
have entered Thailand illegally. Setting up such procedures would
be complicated and require MOL, MSDHS, Thai Immigration, and others
to develop regulations regarding forms of identification,
responsibility for finding jobs for victims, and accountability for
the safety and security of victims.

16. (SBU) Nonetheless, contacts from both law enforcement and civil
society have lauded the coming into force of the new anti-TIP Law.
Some NGO counterparts, from groups such as Global Alliance Against
Traffic Women (GAATW) and the Coalition to Fight Against Child
Exploitation (FACE), are particularly pleased with the consultative
approach the RTG used to develop the law and continues to use in
developing its subordinate regulations, related guidelines, and
MOUs. Others, like the Center for the Protection of Child Rights
(CPCR) and TRAFCORD are working side by side with the RTG as it
trains both government and non-government officials on the new law.
Many (to include the above), while realizing that more needs to be
done, applaud the RTG efforts so far. They also hope that these
efforts will provide improved operational results, not only in the
areas of prevention and protection, but also in the area of criminal

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