THAILAND

Thailand Quick Facts:

Capital: Bangkok
Population: 66.7 million (2012)
Unofficial: 67.7 million (2014 estimate)
Estimated rural population: 65.5%
GDP per capita: US$ 5,479 (2012)
Human Development Index (HDI): 0.690 (2012)
HDI Rank: 103 (2012)
Neighbouring Countries: Cambodia, Lao PDR, Malaysia and Myanmar

Contact Details:

Ms. Pidchaya Pariyanithiroj
National Project Coordinator
pidchaya.pariyanithiroj@undp.org
Direct line: +66-2-304-9100 ext. 2603

UN-ACT Thailand
United Nations Building,
12th floor Block A
Rajdamnern Nok Ave., 10200
Bangkok, Thailand

National Trafficking Trends
  • Country of origin, destination and transit for trafficking
  • Thai victims are trafficked to different regions around the world, namely the US, Europe, Middle East, and Asia, for forced labour, sexual exploitation and domestic servitude
  • Trafficking of migrants into Thailand occurs primarily from neighbouring source countries, at border towns and within Thailand, as labour migrants seek opportunities and are deceived by brokers
  • Victims trafficked to Thailand originate primarily from Lao PDR, Myanmar, Cambodia and Viet Nam
  • Due to the relative wealth of Thailand in the region, the country is viewed as an attractive destination for irregular migrants
  • Many Cambodian migrants, mostly women and young children, are trafficked to beg in urban centres in Thailand
The Trafficking Situation

Thailand is recognized as a key destination for human trafficking in the Mekong region, in addition to being a source and transit country for forced labour and sex trafficking. Victims are often trafficked into Thailand through established migration routes from neighbouring states with significantly lower levels of socio-economic development. Facilitated by long and porous borders, irregular migration is a common trend in meeting the labour demands of low-skilled employment sectors.

The majority of trafficking victims identified in Thailand are Thai nationals, trafficked for sexual exploitation domestically and to a number of countries internationally. Migrants from neighbouring countries, namely Cambodia, Lao PDR and Myanmar, constitute a large proportion of identified trafficked persons in Thailand, and it is recognised that many more victims from neighbouring countries are not identified. Victims from other countries including China, Viet Nam, Russia, Uzbekistan and Fiji also willingly migrate to Thailand in search of better opportunities. The majority of victims identified within Thailand have been forced, coerced, or deceived into labour or sexual exploitation. Sex tourism continues to be a factor, fueling the supply of trafficking victims for sexual exploitation, and at the same time corruption, limiting the progress of anti-trafficking efforts.

Foreign migrants, ethnic minorities, and stateless persons in Thailand are at the greatest risk of being trafficked, experiencing various abuses including the withholding of identity and work documents, debt bondage and subject to illegal salary deductions. Language barriers, a lack of access to social and official safety nets, and low economic and social status, further contributes to the vulnerability of at-risk populations.

Profiles of traffickers vary considerably, including both males and females, Thai and non-Thai nationals. They range from organised networks able to produce or buy fake documents and avoid immigration requirements, to individuals seizing opportunities to profit from cheating or coercing vulnerable persons into situations of exploitation. Trafficking networks can be well-structured and work across borders through the use of brokers. However, the majority of trafficking cases are facilitated by individual and local level networks of friends, family members and former victims, and often begin with voluntary migration. Corruption also plays a large role in the facilitation of human trafficking both domestically and internationally, detailed in media reports and investigative research.

Anti-trafficking mechanisms at a glance
  • Measures for Prevention and Suppression of Trafficking in Women and Children Act adopted (1997)
  • Coordinated Mekong Ministerial Initiative against Trafficking (COMMIT) Task Force (2005), with UN-ACT as secretariat
  • Operation Centres on Human Trafficking were established to address trafficking at provincial, national and international levels
  • Anti-Trafficking in Persons Committee (ATP Committee)
  • Coordinating and Monitoring of Anti-Trafficking in Persons Performance Committee (CMP Committee)
  • The Ministry of Social Development and Human Security oversees the implementation of Thailand’s National Plans of Action (NPAs) against human trafficking, as well as acting as the focal point for its nationwide network of victim shelters
  • Anti-Human Trafficking Division (ATHD) of the Royal Thai Police
  • Department of Special Investigations (DSI) under the Ministry of Justice (MoJ)
TIP challenges ahead

The identification of trafficked persons in vulnerable sectors remains limited, preventing an accurate picture of the trafficking situation among migrants in the country. The low rate of trafficking prosecutions and convictions also indicates a need for further attention to improving success rates. Delays in legal processes result in the delayed repatriation of victims as well as correspondingly low rates of victim participation in the judicial process. This in turn contributes to low prosecution rates of traffickers. Corruption is also seen to reduce the potential success of criminal justice responses.

Further barriers to a more effective criminal justice response include the need to improve capacities within the law enforcement sector as well as the facilitation of bilateral cooperation with neighbouring states. In addition, the government has identified the need to create a systematic and integrated trafficking case database nationwide to strengthen both law enforcement and victim protection efforts.

For national, bi- and multilateral laws and agreements on human trafficking involving Thailand, please see the resource section.