Human trafficking court opens, more traffickers arrested
Thailand opened a new special court devoted solely to trying human trafficking cases on Monday, as Thai police sustained their war on trafficking by arresting eight people in two cases that involved luring Thai women into sexual slavery and migrant workers into forced labor on fishing trawlers.
The special division of the Criminal Court devoted to human trafficking was one of three new courts that opened on Monday. The others will focus on narcotics cases and cases related to corruption and misbehavior by government officials. The new courts were created by the Cabinet of Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha to give priority within the justice system to three problems that have plagued Thailand for many years.
At the opening ceremony for the human trafficking court, presided over by Supreme Court President Direk Ingkaninan, officials from several agencies in the criminal justice system signed a Memorandum of Understanding to create a justice system more responsive to the problem of human trafficking. This includes speedier and more vigorous prosecutions of suspects, but also greater protections and services for victims.
The agencies that signed included the Criminal Court, the Office of the Attorney General, the Royal Thai Police, the Ministry of Justice and the Ministry of Social Development and Human Security (MSDHS).
Meanwhile, police continued their crackdown on human trafficking gangs. Deputy National Police Chief General Ake Angsananont, the point man within the Department on human trafficking, said three people, including a boat owner, were arrested last week for luring Thais to work on fishing boats in Indonesia where they were subjected to forced labor and other abuses.
Ake said the virtual imprisonment of the fishermen in a modern-day slavery situation placed the crime under the category of human trafficking. With evidence in hand, police sought and received seven arrest warrants and dispatched five teams to search the boat owner’s company and workers’ living quarters in Songkhla province where the three suspects were apprehended.
As those arrests were being made, 69 Thai fishing crewmembers were repatriated to Thailand after six months detention in Indonesia, where they had been arrested for encroaching into waters off Kalimantan province. Several were believed to have been trafficking victims.
Also last week, police arrested five Thais for allegedly running a gang that lured Thai women to work in China with promises of jobs as “hooter girls” only to force them into prostitution. Police are seeking four other suspects and believe more Thais are involved in the gang.
For more information and updates about Thailand’s policies and actions against trafficking in persons and related issues, visit www.thaianti-humantraffickingaction.org
Thailand Focus August 10, 2015
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