PM continues to combat human trafficking and calls for regional cooperation
English subtitle of PM weekly televised address on 15 May 2015
Start at 8.15 minute
This past week, many news stations covered stories about human trafficking. Begging and human trafficking are related. The problem of panhandling is as important as the trade in human beings. Some of the victims did not volunteer to panhandle, but were forced to. Such problem creates negative image for Thailand. It can be counted as human trafficking, whether or not the victims volunteer. The whole system must be overhauled while ensuring that human rights are upheld. If we don’t take this problem seriously now, the problem will be even worse in the future. But this is a problem not only for government officials to handle. As a matter of fact, everyone should be responsible in helping to solve this problem.
In tackling begging and human trafficking, the Ministry of Social Development and Human Security has been assigned to oversee this issue. The number of beggars has decreased. Now the problem is where are we going to place them? Some beggars don’t have family or relatives to return to.
Therefore, a center has been set up to address the problem of panhandling as well as homelessness. The “Thanyaburi Model” acts as a one stop service center that aims to eradicate panhandling by providing career training to panhandlers, helping them to support themselves. Those unable to stand on own feet will be supported by the state. This may take some time, but time is what we need to give them, so that they can blend in to their new lifestyle.
Panhandling and human trafficking are also connected to illegal fishing activities (IUU), illegal migrant workers, Rohingyas, human trade, and slave labor. This is the problem that the government must fix immediately. As well, international organizations are keeping a close watch on the issue. There are many people involved in such crimes including entrepreneurs, agents, and traders. Those who are involved in these illegal activities – be they military officials, police, or civil servants – shall face both criminal charges and disciplinary actions. As for the victims and those affected, the government will assist you at its best capacity. If the victims are foreigners, we will provide health checkups and other assistance before sending them back to their home country.
In addition, I have assigned all related agencies to thoroughly scan their responsible areas for human trafficking. Police will bring all culprits to justice and take care of the victims. Today, there are a lot of victims who have revealed themselves. Remember, this problem has had a huge impact on Thailand for a long time. Therefore, the whole system needs to be changed. I am standing here today and I want to use all my knowledge and experience to tackle the problem. In the past, there was misunderstanding when security units only looked at security related matter while the government was only concerned about humanitarian aid. But today, the two matters need to be taken into consideration. Thailand is the midstream. We need to solve problem at the upstream and downstream levels. We don’t want to have to set up anymore refugee camps or shelters. If there were to be such shelters, it would only be to keep them in custody as illegal migrants. They will be held until we can send them home. We will not put them in prison or treat them as criminals. Immigration offices have limited space while thousands of illegal migrants have flocked into Thailand, thus making such holding areas overpopulated. Authorities need to be careful when treating migrants. Make sure that everything is done in line with international standards.
The central and local administrations are expediting all efforts on this matter while the government is mobilizing policies nationally and internationally. National security units are responsible for tackling the trade in humans within the country through the enforcement of laws and the utilization of Article 44, allowing operations to run more effectively. In the international arena, the deputy prime minister and minister for defense is responsible for coordinating with foreign nations in preventing and suppressing human trafficking. All civil servants need to support the operation as well.
All of the perpetrators will be brought to justice. Authorities involved in any illegal activities will be transferred to other locations or entirely suspended from their duties. They will also be investigated if necessary. There is no need to be worried if you are innocent.
As for the victims, we will take good care of them. However, there will be a problem if they can’t return to their country of origin. Please rest assured that the Thai government will provide humanitarian aid, even though our budget for this is limited at the moment. Now the question is if we have limited amount, how are we going to look after these migrants? And what do we need to do in order not to violate their human rights? I sympathize with these people as all Thai people do as well. We care for other people regardless of race or nationality. However, whatever we decide to do must not damage our own country. The problem is that currently, no country wants to take these people back. This is why we need to seek cooperation from other nations.
Soon, the Foreign Affairs Ministry will invite all related agencies from overseas to discuss and exchange knowledge on how to solve human trafficking. We need to come up with a solution that receives everyone’s consideration. I want other countries to understand our intentions. We are committed to solve all problems concerning crimes against humanity especially with the Rohingyas as well as the IUU problem and other illegal activities.
End at 13.54 minute
For more information and updates about Thailand’s policies and actions against trafficking in persons and related issues, visit www.thaianti-humantraffickingaction.org