Prayut: Human trafficking cases to be sped up
By Prangthong Jitcharoenkul & Online Reporters for the Bangkok Post on 6 June 2016,
Prime minister Prayut Chan-o-cha has pledged to speed up the investigation of human trafficking cases, most of which involve government officials.
“Although the number of cases has increased since 2014, the investigation needs to be sped up so the problem can be addressed. Authorities have to solve related cases soon,” he said.
According to the prime minister, there are about 150 human-trafficking cases and 34 officials have been punished. “Some of them were prosecuted and later fired, while others were suspended from duty pending the investigation.”
Among those implicated in trafficking networks are government officials, police and military officers, local politicians and influential figures, Gen Prayut said.
He asked the Justice Ministry to find the best course of action to deal with the cases in which the suspects recanted before the court.
The prime minister was speaking at an event held to mark the National Human Trafficking Awareness Day at Government House on Monday.
Held by the Social Development and Human Security Ministry, the event also marked the Stop Human Trafficking Day on June 5. Ambassadors, foreign diplomats and representatives from international organizations attended the event.
Anti-human trafficking memoranda of understanding between the government and representatives from the United Nations and civil groups were signed to strengthen cooperation.
An increased budget of 2.59 billion baht has also been spent on anti-trafficking operations to eradicate illegal fishing activities and human trafficking in the fishing industry, Gen Prayut said.
Meanwhile, he promised to look after human trafficking victims, most of whom are from neighbouring countries like Myanmar, Cambodia and Laos.
“Victims must be able to find jobs after they leave government facilities and we have to make sure justice is served regardless of their race, nationality, age and gender,” he said.
In a related development, the Trang provincial court has accepted for review the motion to transfer a human trafficking case against Somjit or Maesaw Srisawang and 10 others to the jurisdiction of the Criminal Court’s Trafficking in Persons Division.
The Trang court cancelled the witness examination on July 15 and rescheduled the decision on the case transfer on July 26.
The attorney of the survivors of trafficking in persons who are co-plaintiffs in this case cited intimidation and threats. He also claimed the effective adjudication of the case may be impeded as some defendants are local influential people who used to be prosecuted in both criminal and civil cases.
The defendant attorney objected the motion, saying that there was no ground to the intimidation claim.
The prosecution witnesses, who are government officials, are based in offices located in Trang.
He said the survivors of trafficking cases have been placed under the protection of the Welfare Protection Center for Survivors of Trafficking in Persons in Songkhla province.
Source: The Bangkok Post