Central ThailandCrime

Child Protection Foundation leader faces child labour charges

PHOTO: The secretary-general of the Child Protection Foundation faces charges of human trafficking. (via Thai PBS World)

Authorities in Thailand are claiming there’s a fine line between protecting children and exploiting them. Amphawa District Police in the Samut Songkhram province filed human trafficking charges against the Secretary-General of the Child Protection Foundation. The foundation has protected the rights of children, but charges accuse them of using those children as labour in a resort owned by Secretary-General Montri Sinthaweechai’s wife.

Montri, also known as Khru Yun, issued an apology, saying he had dedicated his life to protecting children and never imagined being charged with trafficking. Activists from the Zendai Foundation took children under Montri’s care to file a police complaint against him, accusing him of beating children and forcing them to work at the resort.

The allegations prompted the Ministry of Social Development and Human Security to take the children into its care and to set up an investigation. Montri was joined by human rights lawyer Krisadang Nutcharat at the police station to face the charges today. The lawyer stressed that police must remember that people are innocent until proven guilty.

“The human trafficking charge is horrifying, raising questions over how Khru Yun could have been appointed a senator if he had been involved in human trafficking.”

Montri says that he is running a childcare centre, not a prison, and the children are happy. The president of the foundation said he had recently visited the resort where they are accused of using illegal child labour. He admitted that he saw children doing chores around the property but said that they received tips and were happy.

He also asserted that abuse charges were trumped-up and that it’s common for teachers to physically punish students and can be reprimanded for excessive force, but it is not the same thing as assault.

The foundation had its license revoked after the allegations were levied, leaving the childcare centre in limbo. According to Thai PBS World, Montri’s lawyer will appeal the withdrawn license.

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Neill Fronde

Neill is a journalist from the United States with 10+ years broadcasting experience and national news and magazine publications. He graduated with a degree in journalism and communications from the University of California and has been living in Thailand since 2014.