Thailand and Laos will set up anti-trafficking center
The government of Thailand will assist its Laos counterpart to build a center in the Lao capital of Vientiane to help rehabilitate victims of human trafficking as the two countries establish closer partnerships to fight trafficking and transnational crime.
Meanwhile, anti-trafficking activists have said that Thailand’s stepped up enforcement against syndicates trafficking Rohingya and Bangladeshis has forced traffickers to try and find new routes that avoid the Kingdom.
For the Lao trafficking center, Minister of Foreign Affairs Don Pramudwinai made the announcement after the 20th Thai-Lao Joint Commission meeting in the northern Thai city of Chiang Rai. Don told reporters that he had signed a memorandum of understanding for the establishment of the center at Ban Phon-Hong in the Lao capital of Vientiane to provide rehabilitation to persons victimized by human trafficking.
He said Thailand would fund construction of the center and its human-resource development. The facility would also be helpful in suppression of human trafficking in the two countries and the region, he said. Trafficking of people from Laos to Thailand is fairly common because the nations border each other, have a very similar language, and have a gap in development and wealth. That gap generally draws Lao citizens to seek better paying work and opportunities in Thailand, and some fall into the hands of traffickers.
In Bangkok, the Attorney General announced last week that he has assembled a team of 18 public prosecutors to pursue scores of cases against a syndicate trafficking in Rohingya and other migrants from Myanmar and Bangladesh. Over 100 suspects have been arrested, and others are on the run, following the discovery in May of human trafficking camps in southern Thailand.
The team, led by Human Trafficking Case Office Director-General Peerayut Praditkul, will handle the prosecution of 74 suspects including former Army advisor General Manas Khongpaen, The Nation newspaper reported. The case was transferred from Songkhla Provincial Court in the south to the newly established Human Trafficking Case Division at the Criminal Court in early October.
Most Rohingya and Bangladeshi migrants and trafficking victims were trying to reach Malaysia and Indonesia but were trafficked through Thailand. The crackdown on the syndicate has led traffickers to explore new routes to avoid stepped up anti-trafficking efforts by the Thai authorities. With the end of the monsoon season, analysts have warned that a new wave of migrants will attempt the dangerous journey across the Bay of Bengal to try and reach Malaysia and Indonesia.
“We don’t see new [routes], but we know different routes are being studied so they don’t have to be moved by boat,” said Chris Lewa, founder of the Arakan Project, a rights project focusing on the Rohingya. “Some boats may leave, but there is definitely a strong impact of the Thai crackdown. The kind of movement and recruitment happening last year is not happening this year. It’s a lot more clandestine.”
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 November 2, 2015
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