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Thai FM urges US not to downgrade Thailand on its human trafficking watchlist

BANGKOK, May 10 (Xinhua) — Thai foreign minister urged his US counterpart not to downgrade the southeast Asian country in its latest review of the human trafficking situation during his visit to the United States, Thai News Agency reported on Friday.

Surapong Tovichakchaikul, Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister of Thailand, said on Thursday upon his return from a visit to Washington that he had discussed several issues with his US counterpart John Kerry during his visit from May 5 to 8.

During the Monday meeting on Monday, Surapong said he highlighted the Thai government’s efforts in dealing with the problem of trafficking. He cited the example of Thailand’s newly- established One-Stop Crisis Centres on assistance and protection for various target groups, including victims of human trafficking.

The minister said he hoped the efforts would be reflected positively in the upcoming U.S. State Department Trafficking in Persons (TIP) Report, which is to be published next month.

The TIP report has put Thailand on the Tier 2 Watch List for three consecutive years and the government is concerned that the country may slip into Tier 3 if no meaningful action is taken to deal with the human trafficking problem.

A country in the Tier 2 Watch List is not yet compliant to the maximum standards to combat trafficking in persons and is in danger of falling to Tier 3, which is worse.

Kerry said he would consider Thailand’s request and effort, but expressed concern over Thailand’s lengthy judiciary procedures in tackling human trafficking cases, Surapong said.

The two ministers also discussed a wide range of bilateral and regional issues, as well as global issues of common concern.

On regional issues, Surapong welcomed Washington’s strategic rebalancing policy focusing on re-engagement with Asia, particularly the importance the US has given the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) to centrality.

He stressed that American engagement in ASEAN integration efforts can serve as a stabilizing force in the region.

The partnership will help address political-security challenges in the ASEAN region, including transnational crime, human trafficking, piracy, and disaster.

 

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