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#Thailand De EU drong er bij de handelsbesprekingen met Thailand op aan om een ​​verbod op visproducten te overwegen en mensenrechtenkwesties aan de orde te stellen

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Thailand seafood verbodDe EU is onder nieuwe druk komen te staan ​​om visproducten uit Thailand te verbieden en ervoor te zorgen dat de bezorgdheid over mensenhandel specifiek wordt geuit in handelsbesprekingen tussen de twee partijen.

The demand to take action against “intolerable” conditions in the Thai fishing industry comes as the Bangkok trial starts on Monday of Briton Andy Hall who is being tried by the Thai authorities for criminal defamation and ‘computer crimes’ after raising instances of modern slavery in Thailand.

Hall’s passport was confiscated by the Thai authorities and he has been forbidden from leaving the country. He faces up to seven years in jail if found guilty.

De onderzoeker heeft de afgelopen 10 jaar gevochten voor de bescherming van de mensenrechten in Zuidoost-Azië en nam deel aan belangrijk onderzoek waarin de vreselijke behandeling van migrerende werknemers in een groot Thais visbedrijf werd gedocumenteerd.

De in Brussel gevestigde mensenrechten zonder grenzen (HRWF), een internationaal gerespecteerde ngo, zegt dat de tijd is gekomen voor de EU om de strijd aan te binden met Thailand vanwege de aanhoudende schendingen in de vissector.

Its director, Willy Fautre, told this website: “I am aware of the problem in Thailand. The EU can no longer tolerate a slavery situation in Thai fisheries and should ban any seafood import as long as Thailand has not provided strong evidence that it is seriously implementing policies aiming at the eradication of this practice.

“Volgens de Internationale Arbeidsorganisatie worden honderden migranten uit buurlanden verhandeld door visserijfabrieken. Het wordt tijd dat EU-commissaris voor visserij Karmenu Vella een delegatie naar Thailand stuurt. Hun mandaat moet ontmoetingen omvatten met de relevante autoriteiten en met lokale maatschappelijke organisaties die zich bezighouden met mensenhandel in de visserijsector.”

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His comments come after the European Commission last week said it was effectively extending a deadline given to the Thai authorities to improve problems in its seafood industry. A yellow card, or warning, issued last April expired in October but will now continue “indefinitely”.

Pressure on the Thais further intensified on Monday with publication of a report by the respected Environmental Justice Foundation (EJF) who reports that in Thailand, “forced labour, child labour, human trafficking and various other human rights abuses are widespread” in IUU fishing fleets. These fleets, says the EJF, “operate under the radar” and the only control mechanisms they are likely to encounter are spot checks from seafood processors on land.

The report by the UK-based group, seen by this website, says that activities to suppress and prevent human trafficking have remained “misguided, occasionally incompetent and at times corrupted by the interests of powerful and influential individuals at the local and regional level.”

It argues that the European Commission, European Parliament and member states “should ensure that concerns over human trafficking are specifically raised in the context of trade negotiations between the EU and Thailand, in accordance with commitments made by the European Commission.

Consumers too have a key role to play, says the EJF, saying they should “demand retailers commit to ensuring all seafood products are produced sustainably and without trafficked, forced or bonded labour.

“They should also demand “net to plate” traceability for all seafood products to ensure that environmental or social and human rights abuses are identified and removed from every stage of production.”

Thailand is de op twee na grootste exporteur van zeevruchten ter wereld, met een export van zeevruchten ter waarde van $ 7.3 miljard. De Europese Unie importeerde vorig jaar meer dan € 835.5 miljoen aan zeevruchten uit Thailand, terwijl de waarde van de invoer door de Verenigde Staten meer dan $ 1.6 miljard bedroeg.

Even so, the EJF, in the report, says that the Thai fishing industry “remains heavily reliant on trafficked and forced labour”, adding: “It is clear that rising overheads, exacerbated by the need to spend more time at sea for smaller catches due to over-fishing and chronic mismanagement will continue to encourage these abuses.

“As boat operators have looked to cut costs, working conditions and wages have suffered, causing many workers to turn away from the industry and forcing some employers to rely on criminal trafficking networks to meet the labour shortfall.”

Corruption, notes the EJF, “remains a major obstacle” to efforts to combat human trafficking in Thailand.

“EJF investigations uncovered evidence of continued police collusion in the trafficking and exploitation of migrant workers aboard Thai fishing boats.”

Uit onderzoek blijkt dat lokale functionarissen vaak bescherming en zelfs hulp bieden aan gewetenloze makelaars en bedrijfseigenaren die zich bezighouden met mensenhandel en misbruik van migrerende werknemers.

Exploitanten nemen nu meer voorzorgsmaatregelen om detectie te voorkomen, inclusief het overladen van verhandelde arbeiders op zee, zegt het.

“Poor and chaotic fisheries management have further exacerbated and entrenched the situation as severely reduced catch volumes resulting from decades of over-fishing require boats to spend more time at sea.”

The EJF is now calling for “determined action at the highest levels of Government” to “identify and successfully prosecute” criminals, corrupt officials and unscrupulous business operators.

The advocacy group says this should be accompanied by the introduction and enforcement of “comprehensive measures” to regulate Thailand’s fishing fleets and recruitment practices.

Failure to do so will mean that “violence, exploitation and slavery will remain an ongoing feature of Thailand’s seafood industry.”

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