Police, FBI, NGOs unite to combat child abuse, sex exploitation in Phuket
The Phuket News on 2 June 2017,
By Tanyaluk Sakoot
PHUKET: Phuket today became home to the first Child Advocacy Centre in Southern Thailand to spearhead a multi-agency campaign against human trafficking and sexual exploitation of children.
The branch in Phuket is to serve as the head office for operations throughout Southern of Thailand, explained Darren Herbold, Director of For Freedom International (FFI) at the opening of the centre in Cherng Talay this morning (June 2).
“The purpose of the child advocacy centre is to create a multi-disciplinary team (government and NGO) that provides victim-focused support to sexually exploited children,” he told The Phuket News.
The Thai government, in cooperation with the US embassy, have identified Chiang Mai, Pattaya and Phuket as the first three locations for Child Advocacy Centres in Thailand, he added.
“In response to the Thai government’s national policy to suppress the crime of human-trafficking and child sexual exploitation, the Royal Thai Police’s Thailand Internet Crime Against Children (TICAC) is partnering with the For Freedom International Foundation (FFI), the US Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) and Department of Homeland Security with the aim to create a safe and child-friendly environment where child victims of trafficking and sexual exploitation are able to speak to a trained forensic interviewer about trauma that the child has experienced or witnessed,” Mr Herbold explained.
“Our foundation is privileged to be able to support the Thai law enforcement as they seek to suppress human trafficking. The FFI Foundation exists to support families and children from exploitation. We also seek to support the Thai government and law enforcement, specifically TICAC, as they work diligently to suppress human trafficking
“We assist officers working on the ground using cutting-edge techniques, in conducting cases against offenders, starting from the initial interview process, finding and collecting evidences and witnesses, through to arrests and prosecutions.
“During this process, FFI are able to assist children and youth who are victims, integrating work with the related organisations, both nationally and internationally,” he said.
Pol Gen Tamasak Wicharaya, a Level 10 Adviser of Royal Thai Police who heads the TICAC division, today as guest of honour said, “Our main task force is recruiting and preparing to train officers as the TICAC and ACT Phuket Child Advocacy Centers join to work more closely together.”
Asked specifically why the centre opened in Phuket, Gen Tamasak answered, “We are focusing on main tourism location in Thailand, such as Chiang Mai, Pattaya and Phuket.
“With this centre set up here, we can get in closer to any problems. This is about children at risk facing violence and exploitation, so we have to be ready for any incident. This is a place to receive and comfort children. All of our work is supported by the government.”
Joe Fonseca, the FBI’s Assistant Legal Attache in Thailand, noted, “Phuket is an area of Thailand that attracts tourists, but Phuket also attracts the worst people in society – the ones who exploit children. So we want to make that our team is here to support and help them.”
Asked what he expects the centre to achieve, Mr Fonseca said, “We expect the staff’s experience will take care of them (the children) so well that centre will be a success. Thai people should understand that this is specifically for them. It shows them that the Thai government values their children. They want to make these children comforted.
“Residents here should be welcome the centre. They should come and and talk with the police here. These officers genuinely want to help these people,” he said.
Child Advocacy Center of Thailand (PHUKET)
19/1 Soi Chorng Talay 6, Srisoonthorn Road, Thalang, Phuket 83110
Tel: 089 119 4779 (Ms Sookpranee)
Facebook: Children’s Advocacy Center Thailand (click here)
Photo credit: Tanyaluk Sakoot