Thai and Nordic Authorities Collaborate to Combat Human Trafficking
The Royal Thai Police (RTP) recently engaged in discussions with Nordic authorities about human trafficking, with a focus on improving regulations associated with labor contracts. Deputy police chief Pol Gen Surachate Hakparn led the meeting on May 16, which included Janna Davidson, Swedish National Rapporteur, and representatives from the Nordic Police and Customs Cooperation.
Officials from the Thai Labor Ministry, Customs Department, human trafficking NGOs, and related sectors also participated in the discussion. With increasing cases of online child sex trafficking, Thailand was promoted to Tier 2 from the Tier 2 Watchlist in the United States 2022 Trafficking in Persons (TIP) Report.
A Focus on Berry Pickers in Sweden
Christian Froden from the Swedish Police Authority’s Human Trafficking Operations Department raised concerns about the working conditions of Thai laborers employed as berry pickers in Sweden. Following numerous complaints about unfair contract terms, Wannarat Srisuksai, Deputy Permanent Secretary of the Labor Ministry, announced that Thai-Nordic labor contracts are under examination.
According to a 2022 report, at least 10,000 Thai laborers were sent to Sweden and Finland through recruiters. However, in October, several berry pickers filed complaints with the Labor Committee, citing forced labor conditions and unfair wages. Workers reported being overworked, with a minimum of 10 hours a day for at least three months, and underpaid.
This ongoing issue has persisted since 2014 and has reportedly affected at least 50 laborers. During negotiations between the Department of Employment’s director-general, Pairoj Chotikasatien, and representatives of Thai recruiters and berry distributors, it was decided that laborers should be left with at least 30,240 baht of income after personal spending. This figure is based on the guaranteed minimum monthly income of 23,183 Swedish krona or 81,372 Thai baht, a standard salary agreed upon by both Thai and Swedish officials.
Increased Cooperation to Address Human Trafficking
As part of their combined efforts to tackle scam-related trafficking, the authorities are working to enhance international coordination, especially with neighboring countries where scam rings are often based. Ms. Davidson praised Pol Gen Surachate’s and Thailand’s efforts in addressing labor trafficking related to scams, such as call center scam rings.
With Thai and Nordic authorities collaborating to create fairer labor contracts for Thais working in Scandinavian countries and taking stronger action against human trafficking, it is hoped that the conditions for Thai berry pickers in Nordic countries will improve significantly in the near future.