The USAID Thailand Counter Trafficking in Persons Project (USAID Thailand CTIP) seeks to reduce trafficking in persons (TIP) and to better protect the rights of trafficked persons in Thailand by reducing demand and incentives for using trafficked labor, empowering at-risk populations to safeguard their rights, and strengthening protection systems for survivors. As a source, transit, and destination country, Thailand is susceptible to multiple manifestations of TIP. TIP in Thailand is fueled by the demand for low-skilled labor and is entrenched by deep-rooted social discrimination and lack of regulation and enforcement. The COVID-19 pandemic and related measures restricting and suspending movement through regular migration channels have further increased migrant vulnerabilities to exploitation and TIP. The project strengthens collaboration among the public and private sectors as well as civil society to reduce TIP in Thailand.
REDUCING DEMANDS AND INCENTIVES FOR TRAFFICKED LABOR
USAID Thailand CTIP prioritizes sectors that are most exposed to TIP, including fishing, agriculture, and construction. The project addresses TIP risks in partnership with companies working in the target provinces of Bangkok, Chiang Rai, Trat, Sa Kaeo, Surat Thani, and Phuket, all of which have significant migrant worker populations or are located near trafficking routes. USAID Thailand CTIP is also implementing a national campaign to reduce Thai citizens’ tolerance for forced labor in products and services, while increasing empathy toward migrants and trafficked persons. The project also leads community-level interventions supporting civil society, TIP change agents, and migrant networks to foster cross-sectoral collaboration to improve Thailand’s response to TIP.
EMPOWERING AT-RISK POPULATIONS
USAID Thailand CTIP is empowering at-risk groups by expanding access to reliable information and protection tools. USAID Thailand CTIP collaborates with and strengthens local organizations to better reach and assist vulnerable migrants. The project-developed Thailand Migrant Protection Resource Toolkit contains updated information on policies and regulations, an interactive service provider map, and other tools for civil society organizations serving migrant populations. USAID Thailand CTIP also trains volunteer migrant leaders in spotting signs of exploitation and trafficking, referring potential victims to existing services, supporting them in accessing grievance mechanisms, and amplifying migrant voices in the political discourse by empowering them to capture and share their stories through various tools and information.
STRENGTHENING PROTECTION SYSTEMS
USAID Thailand CTIP engages government stakeholders at both the national and provincial levels. Working in partnership with a common goal of aligning existing procedures and processes while identifying and assisting trafficked persons with international and regional standards of evidence-based practices. Furthermore, the project facilitates collaboration between the government, civil society, and private sectors to promote a rights-based approach to victim identification and assistance. This includes qualitative research on good practices in assistance to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and intersex (LGBTQI+) survivors of TIP and how it can be implemented in Thailand. Finally, the project is reviewing and addressing the barriers that non-governmental organizations face in obtaining government certification to be able to assist TIP victims.
IMPACTS AND RESULTS
By taking a multi-sectoral approach, the project has achieved the following results:
- USAID Thailand CTIP implemented an online national campaign ‘Inside Khonnok’ (ข้างในคนนอก) to open dialogue and challenge discrimination against migrants in Thailand as well as to amplify migrant voices. The campaign reached over 900,000 people through stories and messages shared via videos, collaboration with social media influencers, live Facebook panels, and other social media platforms.
- Responding to challenges stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic, the project launched a dedicated messaging bot on the popular LINE social media application called ‘MayDay’ to improve well-being and protection of at-risk populations. This messaging bot provides necessary information on migration regulation changes, coronavirus prevention information, and how to keep their working documents current in Burmese, Khmer, and Lao languages to migrant workers.
- In partnership with Diginex Solutions, USAID Thailand CTIP, working closely with the regional USAID Asia CTIP project, launched Doc2Work, an application that guides fishery workers in obtaining and maintaining their work documents. This aims to support the regularization of migrant workers from Cambodia and Myanmar, reducing their vulnerability to TIP.
- USAID Thailand CTIP partnered with World Vision to strengthen the skills and coordination among members of multi-disciplinary teams who are frontline agencies working on victim identifications in Chiang Rai, Surat Thani, Sa Kaeo, and Trat provinces, enabling them to identify more TIP cases and refer them for appropriate support.
- USAID Thailand CTIP grantees engaged community leaders and volunteers in target provinces by expanding their skills and roles in identifying TIP risks while increasing awareness of labor rights.