Thailand and the U.S. strengthen cooperation on child protection after one-year anniversary of the International Megan’s Law

photo-rtp-with-rep-chris-smith-8-feb-2017

A year after Congressman Chris Smith’s International Megan’s Law was signed into law, progress has already been made to bar child sex offenders from the United States from entering into Thailand. This is due to close cooperation between Thai and U.S. law enforcement agencies.

The International Megan’s Law was a result of an eight-year effort by Congressman Smith, Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Africa, Global Health, Global Human Rights and International Organizations. This important legislation authorizes the creation of a reciprocal notification system to protect children around the world from convicted pedophiles who travel in or out of the United States.

The progress was conveyed to Congressman Smith by a high-level Thai delegation led by Ambassador Pisan Manawapat on 8 February 2017. Thanks to a close cooperation between the Royal Thai Police and the U.S. Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), last year, 26 out of 33 persons with child sex offense record referred to the Thai Immigration Bureau by the HSI were denied entry into Thailand.

The meeting also benefited from a firsthand experience of two senior Thai police officials in charge of child protection; Police General Tamasak Wicharaya, Advisor and Deputy Director of Center for Children, Women, Family Protection and Anti-Trafficking in Persons, Royal Thai Police, and Police Lieutenant General Jaruvat Vaisaya, Commissioner of Legal Affairs and Litigation. The two police officials were on a study trip to the U.S. National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC).

The meeting discussed about the establishment of the Thailand Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force (TICAC), headed by Police General Wicharaya. Through the TICAC, the Royal Thai Police has been working directly with the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and HSI to share real-time information on reported cases of sexual exploitation facilitated online which often leads to human trafficking investigations.

Thailand recently opened the second Children’s Advocacy Center (ACT) in Chonburi Province (Pattaya) with the collaboration of A21, an international non-profit organization working to end human trafficking. Based on a U.S. model, the Center assists child victims through every step of the judicial process as well as provides rehabilitation and counseling programs. The first center was established in Chiang Mai Province. Thailand plans to launch three more centers in the coming years.

Thai law enforcement officers will continue to work closely with their U.S. counterparts to protect children and combat child exploitation and human trafficking.

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Thanida Menesavet

Head, Human Rights and Social Issues

February 10, 2017

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