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Thai police scrutinised over record number of dismissed human trafficking cases

Greeley Pulitzer

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Thai police scrutinised over record number of dismissed human trafficking cases | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Thai police arrest a man suspected of trafficking at least 200 people in December - The Thaiger
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Thailand is home to about 610,000 modern-day slaves, or about one in 113 of its population of 69 million, according to the Global Slavery Index by the Walk Free Foundation. Yet Thai prosecutors turned down nearly a fifth of human trafficking cases sent to them by police last year. This has raised concerns that police were on a drive to push the number of cases, some of them ‘tenuous’, up to enhance Thailand’s global image.

A 79 page report to be released soon, drafted to inform an annual US report ranking countries on their efforts to combat trafficking, shows Thailand’s public prosecutors rejected 64 of 364 cases in 2019.

Thailand has been criticised in recent years for human trafficking in its lucrative textile and seafood sectors, as well as its sex trade. The country handed down just 194 trafficking convictions last year, down 17% from a peak in 2018.

Prosecutors say police have been told to increase trafficking arrests amid concerns about the dwindling number, and most of the cases dismissed last year involved smuggled migrants who were misidentified as trafficking victims.

“In practice, most police know that the cases involve smuggling, but they receive orders to treat them as human trafficking offences. This is perhaps due to the lack of clear understanding of the differences between trafficking and smuggling of migrants.”

Trafficking involves deception or control over another person for purposes of exploitation, while smuggling simply means entering another country illegally and is considered consensual.

The percentage of dismissed trafficking cases hit a record 18% last year, up from 10% in 2018 and 4% in 2017. The 64 rejected cases were instead prosecuted under smuggling and transnational crime laws, according to the report.

Thailand’s top anti-trafficking officer, Jaruvat Vaisaya, says police are responding to a growing number of people being transported to Malaysia.

Lawyers and campaigners say the conflation of smuggling and trafficking means some resources for trafficking victims are spent on migrants who have not actually been exploited. One prosecutor source said he had heard of police officers being “ordered” to find more trafficking victims.

“This clearly shows that the government wants the highest number of cases to show that many arrests have been made,” says Adisorn Kerdmongkol, a coordinator at the Migrant Working Group. Human trafficking is a political issue in Thailand.”

Thailand’s anti-trafficking department, part of the social ministry, declined to comment on the report, which is due to be sent to U.S. officials by the end of the month.

Thailand rescued a record 1,807 trafficking victims last year, up from 622 a year earlier, the government said this month. Most were Burmese migrants bound for Malaysia and activists have questioned whether many were in fact smuggled, not trafficked.

Vaisaya said it was certain that people headed to Malaysia would be trafficked once they crossed the border.

“Regardless of whether it’s human trafficking or not, what we want is for the offenders to be in jail.”

Public prosecutor Pravit Roykaew says Thai authorities often rush to make decisions within 24 hours about whether someone is a victim of human trafficking.

“Authorities are confused with the trafficking law. It does not provide a specific timeframe for identifying victims. This results in not getting all the facts, which may cause misidentification.”

“If it’s one or two cases, it’s acceptable,’ says one independent lawyer, “but if you have over 60 cases dismissed, it means you just weren’t careful enough. Having a high number of cases doesn’t mean that Thailand is successful in solving human trafficking.”

SOURCE: Reuters

 

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Crime

Rogue policeman turned burglar recaptured in Chiang Mai

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Rogue policeman turned burglar recaptured in Chiang Mai | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Former policeman turned burglar "Parawet" at the time of his latest arrest - Chiang Rai Times

A former policeman who escaped a Chiang Mai hospital after being arrested for burglary has been re-arrested. The ex-cop, identified only as “Pawaret,” was assaulted by homeowners after he attempted to burglarise a home last weekend, which led to rescue workers taking him to hospital. He subsequently escaped the in the early hours of the morning.

His escape caused panic among residents in Sanpatong area of Chiang Mai, where he was at large. The suspect was found hiding in a guesthouse in the city. He has now been apprehended, according to local media.

Police say the accused burglar is now back in custody and awaiting trial. His wife is also being sought by police for assisting in his escape.

SOURCE: Chiang Rai Times

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Bangkok cops bust online gun dealers

Greeley Pulitzer

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Bangkok cops bust online gun dealers | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Bangkok Police pose with seven firearms, 221 rounds of ammunition and 38 gun parts confiscated in raids this week - Chiang Rai Times

The chief of the Bangkok Metropolitan Police Bureau told a media briefing yesterday that officers have arrested six men and two women for selling firearms on Thai social media. They seized seven guns, ammunition and gun components. Police initially arrested Pairoh Chanchom for selling firearms without a licence. A subsequent, lengthy investigation led to raids on several premises and the arrest of seven accomplices.

Also arrested were 34 year old Thaweephan Jit-aree; 28 year old Saksid Kerdmanee; Suriyan Yodsaen, aged 38; 24 year old Kamphon Wongsriphuek; 28 year old Raen Senaphan, and two women; Intheera Thananwarawong, age 43 and 57 year old Uraiwan Krodsui. Officers seized seven firearms, 221 rounds of ammunition and also 38 gun parts. The suspects are charged with colluding in the illegal possession and sale of firearms and ammunition.

Police Major General Samran Nuanma, chief of Patrol and Special Operations Division 191, urges the public to call the 191 hotline if they have any information about unlawful activities on social media.

According to Gunpolicy.org of the University of Sydney’s School of Public Health, Thailand has about 10 million privately owned firearms or one for about every seven citizens. Of those, they estimate about 4 million are illegal.

“I can’t say whether Thailand has a gun problem, but it certainly has a gun culture,” says Michael Picard, GunPolicy.org’s research director.

“Guns are idolized as symbols of power and privilege, as they are expensive and not easy to legally obtain.”

SOURCE: Chiang Rai Times

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4 Uzbek women rescued from human traffickers in Pattaya

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4 Uzbek women rescued from human traffickers in Pattaya | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Four women from Uzbekistan were rescued from a Pattaya condo yesterday - The Pattaya News

Four Uzbek women were rescued in Pattaya yesterday by Uzbekistan embassy officials and Chon Buri Provincial Police after allegedly falling victim to a human trafficking scam. A team of police raided a condominium in South Pattaya near the entrance of Phra Tamnak hill.

See the video version of this story HERE:

The raid comes after Chon Buri police learned from Uzbekistan’s embassy that an Uzbek woman was tricked into coming to Pattaya with the offer of a high paying job, but upon arriving discovered that the work was not as described and she was essentially held against her will. The Embassy was alerted to the woman’s plight by a concerned relative. Police did not disclose the exact nature of the work.

One of the women told police that she had been offered “a lot of money” for working in Pattaya but she didn’t receive the cash and was being held against her will. Her name is being withheld.

A total of four Uzbek women were found in the condominium, including the woman who had come to the attention of the Uzbekistan embassy. All were rescued and will return home with the help of the embassy.

Chon Buri police are continuing their investigation and looking into the individuals who lured the women to Pattaya and offered the alleged employment.

SOURCE: The Pattaya News

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