US: Forced labor continues on Thai fishing vessels

Staff Writer
Columbus CEO

WASHINGTON (AP) — The State Department says forced labor on Thai fishing vessels has continued in the past year despite legal reforms and arrests following an Associated Press investigation into the country's seafood industry.

The department made the assessment in its annual global review of human rights practices, released Wednesday by Secretary of State John Kerry. The report covers the 2015 calendar year.

The report finds that the Thai government has reaffirmed its "zero tolerance" policy for human trafficking and updated many laws, but a lack of legal clarity on what constitutes forced labor has undermined efforts to identify trafficking victims and prosecute abuses.

The department cites the AP investigative series on slavery in the seafood industry that resulted in the rescue of 2,000 men, a dozen arrests and millions of dollars' worth of seizures.