Trafficking cases moved to new court, crackdown continues
Thailand’s Supreme Court president approved moving a slew of human trafficking cases to the new Human Trafficking Division of the Criminal Court last week in order to ensure that the cases covering 72 suspects allegedly involved in smuggling ethnic Rohingya and other migrants will proceed quickly and efficiently.
The court to try human trafficking cases is one of three new courts established this year under the Criminal Court, with two others devoted to trying cases involving official corruption and narcotics. Reformers contend that by isolating these three types of crimes and giving each court a specific management system, judges will be able to act with greater expertise, understanding and secure more convictions.
The cases sent to the trafficking court center on the discovery last May of virtual prison camps and dozens of graves of trafficked migrants near the border with Malaysia. The discovery, stemming from a police investigation that began in January, has led to over 230 indictments. Among those charged have been army officers, police officers, local politicians and bureaucrats as well as members of criminal gangs. More than 100 suspects are in custody while the rest are on the run.
Meanwhile police maintained their campaign against traffickers, arresting suspects near the border with Myanmar, and investigating a counterfeit identification card ring near Bangkok. In addition, 29 Muslim Rohingya regarded as refugees will be sent to the United States later this month for resettlement and a chance at starting new lives.
The 29 arrived in Thailand from Myanmar this year, and some had been rescued from trafficking camps. Four other Rohingya refugees were sent to the U.S. earlier this month. The Rohingya in question were able to prove they were fleeing persecution and were not economic migrants.
Hundreds of other Rohingya are still in holding centers awaiting acceptance from third countries. Officials also fear that when the monsoon season ends next month more Rohingya and other Muslims will take to the sea in attempts to flee Myanmar and Bangladesh and reach Malaysia or Indonesia. Invariably, some will attempt to travel through Thailand to reach those other countries. All are in danger of falling into the hands of human traffickers at any point during the journey.
In Kanchanaburi province near the border with Myanmar, members of the Department of Special Investigations, soldiers and immigration officers participated in the arrests last week of three men that migrant workers in the area said had harmed and threatened them. The DSI said the men, whose nationalities were unclear, had been involved in other human and drug trafficking cases and are part of an organized crime syndicate.
Closer to Bangkok, five bureaucrats in Pathum Thani province were under investigation last week for allegedly issuing hundreds of fraudulent identification cards for migrant workers. Creating and selling fake identification documents are part of the operations of human trafficking syndicates.
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, Week of October 13, 2015
Having trouble reading this email? View it on your browser.