Fighting human trafficking in the Thai fishing industry
Human trafficking has been taking place for decades within the Thai fishing industry. Undocumented migrant laborers from neighboring countries, particularly Myanmar, have been press-ganged into service aboard fishing boats with inhumane working conditions for long periods of time. The workers have been effectively enslaved through physical threats, withheld wages, and retention of identity documents.
Media exposure to these practices caused world-wide outrage and the European Union threatened sanctions against the entire Thai fishing industry. To forestall economic disaster and eradicate an immoral practice, the Marine Department of the Royal Thai Government teamed with iRespond to develop a system to account for every worker leaving from or returning to a Thai port. In the first year, more than 100,000 fishermen were registered and protected. That program has now been extended to include all migrant workers in the seafood industry, including land-based operations, and is providing 200,000 workers with a secure identity.