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Migrant workers prepare to unload their catch at a port in Samut Sakhon province, Thailand on January 22, 2018.        © 2018 Reuters / Athit Perawongmetha
(Bangkok) – The Thai government should undertake further reforms and act to eradicate forced labor and trafficking in the Thai fishing industry, Human Rights Watch said today in a letter to Prime Minister Gen. Prayuth Chan-ocha.

“Under pressure from the European Union and others, the Thai government has publicly pledged to improve labor rights in the country’s powerful and abusive fishing industry,” said Brad Adams, Asia director. “It’s time to turn those words into actions that will make a meaningful difference in the lives of migrant workers suffering forced labor and other abuses.”

In a January 2018 report, “Hidden Chains: Forced Labor and Rights Abuses in Thailand’s Fishing Industry,” Human Rights Watch described how vulnerable migrant workers from neighboring countries in Southeast Asia are recruited into fishing, prevented from changing employers, forced to work overtime, and not paid in accordance with Thai law, among other abuses.

The April 13 letter offers a series of recommendations that Human Rights Watch has discussed in detail with the prime minister’s office, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of Labor, and other government agencies to achieve greater protection and more robust enforcement of labor rights in Thailand’s fisheries sector.

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