Politician convicted and jailed for human trafficking
Thailand scored a landmark victory in the fight against human trafficking last week as a local politician was sentenced to more than two decades in prison by a provincial court, making him the first politician convicted of trafficking Rohingya boat people as over a hundred other suspects, including politicians, policemen and soldiers await trial.
The case demonstrated the ability of the Thai police and justice systems to snare human traffickers in sting operations, protect witnesses and successfully bring cases against powerful people who wield influence that might otherwise make them more or less untouchable. Thailand has arrested far more traffickers in recent months than many other countries with similar problems, proof positive of the strong commitment on the part of the present government, which has declared ending human-trafficking a national priority.
“This is a big step forward for human trafficking enforcement in Thailand,” said Police General Thatchai Pitaneelaboot, who supervised the sting operation that resulted in the arrest of the politician. “It’s a breakthrough for those people who believe these crimes should be stopped.”
The provincial court in southern Songkhla province sentenced Anat Hayeemasae, a member of the Provincial Administrative Organization (PAO) of southern Satun province to 22 years and six months in prison for trafficking a Rohingya migrant from Myanmar and holding him for ransom. PAOs are the most powerful government organizations at the provincial level, second only to the authority of the governor.
Anat was sentenced to 15 years for holding a person for ransom, six years for human trafficking and 18 months for bringing an illegal migrant into the country. He was arrested in March after police were alerted through a tip off that the victim’s family was preparing to meet Anat at a bus terminal in Songkhla province to pay the ransom. Police laid in wait, arrested the politicians when money changed hands and rescued the migrant.
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 31st, 2015
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