In Awareness, Bonded Labor, Debt Bondage among Migrant Workers, Forced Labor, Human Trafficking on July 3, 2013 at 9:21 am
Thailand is facing fresh allegations of using slave labour in its fishing industry with the launch of a new investigation into the sale, abuse and exploitation of migrant workers on Thai fishing ships.
The Environmental Justice Foundation (EJF), an environmental and human rights NGO, highlights the case of 15 Burmese men who had been rescued from boats in its report Sold to the Sea: human trafficking in Thailand’s fishing industry (pdf). All of the men claim to have been deceived by labour brokers and forced to work up to 20 hours a day for months at a time with little or no pay on shrimping boats in Kantang, a city in the south of Thailand.
The men had been subjected to bonded labour, forced detention, and abuse and beatings by senior crew while working on ships operating in Thai waters, according to EJF.
Two of the men reported seeing fellow migrant workers tortured and executed for trying to escape, and witnessing the murder of at least five other men. Another man reported multiple murders and bodies being thrown out to sea with the crew forced to watch.
Source: The Guardian (video available at the link)
In Bonded Labor, Debt Bondage among Migrant Workers, Forced Labor, Human Trafficking on June 2, 2013 at 9:36 am
Thailand is doing little to prevent the human trafficking of workers coming from other countries, and many of these indentured servants are finding their way to the fishing industry, where they are forced to work on vessels engaged in illegal, or pirate, fishing, a new report says.
The trafficked workers are subject to long hours, little or no pay and physical and mental abuse up to and including murder, with 59% of Thai fishing workers who were surveyed by the United Nations in 2009 saying they had seen a fellow worker murdered, according to the Environmental Justice Foundation report, “Sold to the Sea–Human Trafficking in Thailand’s Fishing Industry”, released Wednesday.
Because of Thailand’s tight labor market, many people coming to the country for work wind up in fisheries, where they are subject to horrific working conditions, the report said. Many of these workers end up on illegal fishing vessels, and a recent report from the environmental group Oceana found up to 20% of the world’s fish are caught illegally.
Source: The Wall Street Journal
In Awareness, Forced Labor, Human Trafficking on December 25, 2012 at 9:07 am
At 17, Khansee left his village in southern Laos to find work in a border town. He had very little education, could barely read or write, and was supporting his mother and grandmother. Another young man told Khansee he could earn $170 a month working at a garment factory in Thailand. Khansee trusted him because he was a fellow Lao, but he never made it to the garment factory. They crossed the river at night and boarded a van that took them to the coast of Thailand. When Khansee stepped out of the van, he was immediately led onto a fishing trawler under the watchful eyes of men armed with guns. For two years, Khansee worked day and night, heaving nets of fish without a rest or break. He ate and slept little on a crowded deck with 40 other men. He was beaten on a regular basis. Once, Khansee watched his traffickers beat a fellow worker until the man was unconscious. After two years of forced servitude, Khansee managed to escape when the boat was docked. He ran for days through the jungle, until he reached the home of a woman who took him in, fed him, and gave him money for a taxi to the Lao Embassy in Bangkok. With NGO and embassy assistance, Khansee made it back to his village alive.
Source: US State Department
In Bonded Labor, Forced Labor, Human Trafficking on June 26, 2012 at 9:04 am
Thailand supplies a large portion of America’s seafood. But Thailand’s giant fishing fleet is chronically short of up to 60,000 fishermen per year, leaving captains scrambling to find crew. Human traffickers have stepped in, selling captives from Cambodia and Myanmar to the captains for a few hundred dollars each. Once at sea, the men often go months, or even years, without setting foot on land.
First of two parts
Cambodian Vannak Prum’s destiny changed in a dirt-road town called Malai. It’s a Cambodian outpost on the border with Thailand that is known for its involvement in the trafficking of human beings.
Prum arrived in Malai seven years ago searching for work. His wife was pregnant, and he needed money for the hospital bill. He intended to work for two months, but ended up meeting a human trafficker.
A few days later, Prum was sold onto a Thai fishing boat the length of a basketball court, where he worked in tight conditions with 10 men. He says he didn’t reach land again for three years.
“I didn’t get paid,” he says. “I remained in the middle of the sea and worked day and night.”
Source: Minnesota Public Radio
In Forced Labor, Human Trafficking on March 18, 2012 at 10:41 am
Labour exploitation, human trafficking and bondage of migrant workers from Burma continues in Samut Sakhon’s shrimp-processing factories and onboard trawlers despite the passing of an anti-human-trafficking law nearly four years ago, said Sompong Srakaew, founder and director of Labour Rights Promotion Network Foundation (LPN).
Exactly how many workers are trapped in bondage inside shrimp factories or lured and forced to work on deep-sea fishing trawlers is unknown. But, Sompong, who worked in this area for eight years, estimates about 30 per cent of the 400,000-plus Burmese workers in the province are exploited beyond Thai laws.
Bosses confiscate work permits, temporary passports and identity cards so that Burmese in fish-processing factories cannot seek employment elsewhere. Worse still, some are held in small factories and not allowed to leave the compound and forced to work like slaves.
Young migrant men are also being trafficked into forced labour aboard deep-sea fishing boats via false documentation with the aid of corrupt Thai officials and police.
“It’s hard to pin down the figures by making an estimate,” Sompong said. “But they are definitely there and they end up as virtually slave labour.”
In November 2009, two employers at Anoma shrimp-processing factory were charged with forcing 73 foreign workers including 25 children to be “slaves”, working from 2am until 8pm every day. This was among other abuses that according to the local police inquiry report included “keeping them in slave-like conditions… confining of people [including] women and children by means of threat or use of force to achieve their consent to allow him/herself or others to exploit them…”
Source: Nation Multimedia
In Debt Bondage among Migrant Workers, Forced Labor, Human Trafficking on February 10, 2012 at 11:13 am
While a lucrative deep-sea fishing industry places Thailand among the world’s leading exporters of sea products, a grim specter of human rights abuse lurks below the surface of an industry whose contribution to the national economy is estimated to exceed $4 billion a year.
A combination of factors – including a shortage of labor in this dangerous and physically demanding industry and pressures on marginalized populations – create opportunities for unscrupulous employment brokers and traffickers to prey on those desperate for work. Trafficking of migrant men and boys from Burma, Cambodia, Laos, and within Thailand itself into the deep-sea fishing industry (DSFI) is an issue of growing concern to the governments of Thailand and neighboring countries, civil society organizations (CSOs), and the international community. A combination of economic pressures, language constraints, and lack of information on the risk of trafficking puts migrant populations at especially high risk of labor exploitation and trafficking. Human Rights Watch estimates that at least 250,000 migrants from Burma alone work in sea and land-based sectors of Thai fishing industry. Many of them are trafficked or subject to labor exploitation, while many more are at risk.
(Kim McQuay and Kate Bollinger for In Asia)