At least 33 police officers, officials, implicated in migrant smuggling operation

PHOTO: AP

At least 33 police officers and other government officials are being investigated for their role in the illegal smuggling of migrant workers into Thailand. The people smuggling operation is thought to be at the root of Thailand’s second wave of Covid-19, with countless migrants helped across the border without undergoing mandatory quarantine or any form of health checks.

The Bangkok Post reports that, according to deputy national police chief, Damrongsak Kittiprapas, at least 33 people are thought to have been involved in smuggling migrant workers over the Thai-Burmese border, in the Sangkhla Buri district of Kanchanaburi. This includes over 20 police officers, with the remainder being state officials. The level of involvement varies, with some turning a blind eye to the people smuggling and others more actively involved.

Thailand’s national police chief, Suwat Jangyodsuk, is to set up an investigative panel to consider criminal prosecution and disciplinary action against all involved. It’s understood arrest warrants are also being sought for 8 Thai civilians suspected of smuggling Burmese workers across the border to work in the central province of Samut Sakhon, where the latest outbreak of the virus began.

The government has declared an amnesty for all illegal migrant workers, in the hope it will encourage them to come forward for Covid-19 tests. Those given amnesty must register and will be allowed to stay in the Kingdom for 2 years. Registration opens today and runs until February 13.

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PM Prayut Chan-o-cha has also set up 2 committees to tackle the issues of people smuggling and illegal gambling. Both issues are seen as major contributors to the resurgence of Covid-19. The PM says the government needs everyone’s cooperation to shut down illegal gambling activity.

Meanwhile, the Public Health Ministry is calling on all food outlets to adhere to Covid-19 safety measures. Suwannachai Wattanayingcharoenchai from the Department of Health says many migrant workers are employed at food and drink outlets, either cooking or serving customers. He says food establishments must ensure meat is thoroughly cooked and couriers delivering food should always wear face masks, wash their hands, and keep a distance of at least 1 metre between them and customers.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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Maya Taylor

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