FBI praises government war against child sexual exploitation

Working with partners such as the United States Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Thailand’s government has taken significant steps to fight the sexual exploitation of children and is improving its focus on caring for victims, the FBI said in a report last week.

The dark side of Thailand’s tourism over the past 30 years has been the arrival of predators seeking to exploit children, expecting that the easy-going and tolerant attitude of Thais would provide them with a safe haven for their criminal activities. Since the mid-1990s, however, Thai authorities recognized the problem and began taking steps to counter it, but the current government, as part of its war against human trafficking, has stepped up efforts to an unprecedented level.

In a report on its website, entitled Confronting the Child Sex Trade in Southeast Asia, the FBI said that the Thai government, with the assistance of the FBI and other partners, “has taken significant steps to address the sexual exploitation of children and to focus more attention on victims, whose interests in the past have sometimes been overlooked.”

The U.S. ambassador to Thailand Glyn T. Davies was quoted in the report as saying “The Thai government has adopted a new urgency when it comes to the issues of child exploitation, sexual abuse, and trafficking in persons. This new urgency is very welcome.”

Trafficking is a “huge problem in Thailand, as it is in many countries,” Davies added, but the Thai government has shown a “new eagerness” to address the problem. The Thai authorities have also been seeking help from the United States, he said, and “That is terrific, because we’ve got the FBI, the Department of Homeland Security, and the State Department’s expertise and resources that we can bring to bear.”

The article specifically cited tough new laws, the formation of an effective new task force against online exploitation of children, the opening of children’s advocacy centers and several trainings and collaborations with U.S. law enforcement and security agencies.

“American law enforcement has been long-time good friends to the Royal Thai Police,” said Gen. Tamesak Wicharaya, an assistant police commissioner who oversees operations against trafficking and exploitation of children. He added that the more child sex tourists and traffickers brought to justice, the more the news spreads that Thailand is no longer a playground for pedophiles and predators.

Ambassador Davies said that in light of the changes taking place from the top down in the Thai government and law enforcement, “I think people are making a big mistake if they think they can come here and operate freely when it comes to these types of heinous crimes.”