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Human trafficking to carry death penalty

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PHUKET MEDIA WATCH

– Thailand news selected by Gazette editors for Phuket’s international community

Human trafficking to carry death penalty
The Nation / Phuket Gazette

PHUKET: Parliament voted overwhelmingly yesterday to introduce harsher punishments for human traffickers, including life imprisonment and the death penalty in cases where their victims had died.

The National Legislative Assembly (NLA) voted to amend the country’s Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act in the third reading.

The changes will allow prosecutors to seek the death penalty and fines of up to 400,000 for those convicted of trafficking offences, Pol Gen Chatchawan Suksomjit said.

The overhaul of the Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act follows an incident in January when one woman was found dead in the back of one of five vehicles being used to traffick 98 Rohingya through Phang Nga, north of Phuket, and intercepted by police in Nakhon Sri Thammarat (story here).

Dozens of children – 42 boys and girls under the age of 14 – were also among the suspected trafficking victims from Myanmar.

Two Thai drivers suspected of trafficking the Rohingya, a mostly stateless Muslim minority from western Myanmar, were interrogated over the incident.

In 2012, four Thais found guilty of human trafficking were sentenced to between three and 10 years’ imprisonment (story here) for their intricate involvement in the 2008 “death truck” that left 54 Burmese dead from suffocation inside a seafood container bound for Phuket.

Of the 121 Burmese found in the sealed container heading from Ranong, 17 men, 36 women and one 8-year-old girl were found dead (story here).

Report on fishermen abuse hurts Thailand

While expressing confidence in the measures to combat human trafficking, the government yesterday admitted that fresh reports on forced workers being found on Thai trawlers in Indonesia could hurt Thailand when the United State’s new Trafficking in Persons (TIP) report is released this year.

The US yesterday expressed concern over forced laborers being found in Indonesia’s Ambon and Benjina islands and nearby islands, calling on the government to take significant efforts to protect them.

Deputy Foreign Minister Don Pramudwinai conceded that reports on the issue by international and local news agencies had not helped Thailand in terms of the pending TIP report.

Furthermore, if the European Union also considered the use of the forced laborers a violation of the illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing regulations, it would lead to repercussions on the fishery industry, he said.

The US State Department spokeswoman, Jen Psaki, said workers in the fishing industry, many of them migrants, were exploited at multiple points along the supply chain from harvesting to processing.

“And a significant – as it relates to Thailand, a significant portion – proportion of trafficking victims are found in the seafood industry,” she said in a daily briefing.

“So for several years, the international community, including the United States, has expressed concern publicly – also directly, of course – over the forced labor of foreign migrants in the Thai fishing and on-land seafood industries. And we continue to call on the Thai Government to take significantly greater steps to protect foreign migrants in the fishing and shrimp industries and to punish those who are enslaving workers.”

Asked if the recent media reports could significantly impact on the review of Thailand in the TIP report, Ms Psaki said: “We don’t make predictions like that. We do note concerns where we have them, and certainly the issue of fishing practices in Thailand has been noted in previous reports.”

Failed efforts

Previous media reports stated that Thai and Myanmar fishery workers were forced to work in harsh conditions on the water and some were detained on Indonesian islands. The seafood they catch was exported by Thailand, the reports said.

The authorities said they had put a lot of effort into trying to solve the problem and had rescued many of the abused workers and sent them home.

Deputy Prime Minister Prawit Wongsuwan yesterday met a rescue team at his office to instruct them to help the some 700 forced laborers in Indonesia.

He said he had no idea how the migrants ended up on the trawlers as all Thai trawlers were registered and checked in and out ports. The trawlers could also be traced by GPS, he said.

He said he would talk to the Indonesian government to discuss bring the workers back to Thailand as soon as possible.

It was reported that a group of 21 workers would arrive in the Kingdom this evening.

Deputy Foreign Minister Don said he would ask the owners of the trawlers for information in order to map out necessary measure to tackle the issue.

“We are confident that our sincere efforts to tackle the problem will encourage the concerned agencies to work effectively as well as convince the international community to ease their measures against Thailand,” he said.

Dodging ramifications

Thailand hopes to convince Washington that its efforts over the past nine months since the last TIP’s report was released were enough to upgrade the country from the TIP’s tier three – the lowest rating.

The government reported to the US earlier that the implementation of five crucial strategies, the so-called 5Ps – policy and mechanisms, prosecution, prevention, protection, and partnership – had yielded good results.

Minister Don said the government was preparing a new report on the progress of combating human trafficking in Thailand and would submit it to the US this month.

Washington will have two months to review the report before announcing its TIP ratings in June.

Don said the government had to verify information contained in the media reports about the situation in Indonesia and consult with relevant parties in Washington as well as he EU over the IUU regulation.

— Phuket Gazette Editors

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Thailand bans assemblies, protests, mass gatherings citing Covid-19 fears

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Thailand bans assemblies, protests, mass gatherings citing Covid-19 fears | The Thaiger

Thailand’s government has banned assemblies, protests, and mass gatherings citing fears over Covid-19 spreading. The Royal Gazette, Thailand’s official site for publishing new laws and regulations, made the announcement late last night on the heels of another protest scheduled for today.

The ban is in place for Bangkok and 5 other provinces including Samut Prakan, Samut Songkhram, Pathum Thani, Nakhon Pathom, and Nonthaburi provinces.

Thai Government officials insist the ban on protests is not political but some are skeptical as a protest last weekend ended in violence after demonstrators tried to march to the home of PM Prayut Chan-o-cha. The “leaderless protest” set for today, by “Redem” pro-democracy group, is set to march to the Thai Criminal Court. And, protest groups on social media have stated that the new regulations will not stop scheduled future protests.

Despite the Emergency Decree that has been put in place to ban mass gatherings, the new law will cover more ground by giving the government more power to assert control over law-breakers by including fines up to 40,000 baht or up to 2 years in jail. The new law is effective until further notice.

Yesterday, the pro-democracy group Ratsadon, arrived to the outskirts of Bangkok, after a nearly 250 kilometre, 17 day long walk from the Thao Suranaree statue in Korat province’s Muang district. The group was protesting the imprisonment of 9 pro-democracy demonstrators who are being denied bail. The march, named “Walk Through the Sky: Bring Back the People’s Power,” started on February 16.

The march is expected to end today at Bangkok’s Democracy Monument, but it is unclear whether or not the protest will be stopped in accordance to the new ban.

Thailand has seen a drop in the amount of daily reported cases of Covid-19, with numbers decreasing to double-digits. The Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration assistant spokeswoman is now claiming that Thailand has successfully contained the second wave of Covid, which broke out last December.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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Thai navy receives PETA award after rescuing cats from sinking ship

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Thai navy receives PETA award after rescuing cats from sinking ship | The Thaiger

The Thai navy is celebrating receiving a PETA award after rescuing a group of cats from a sinking ship that had caught fire in the Andaman sea. The Hero to Animals Award was given to the naval officials by the People for Ethical Treatment of Animals group after Facebook user “Nookool.b” posted photos of the feline rescue mission.

The ship’s 8 member crew had jumped off the sinking Phamonsin Nava 10 and were rescued by a passing fishing ship, but noticed 4 cats were left onboard. Navy sailors rescued the cats by carrying them piggy‐back style across the water to the navy vessel unit. The felines were safely rescued and were in good condition, just a bit dehydrated.

“They carried each cat on their backs and swam back to the Navy vessel until every cat was rescued.”

PETA Senior Vice President Jason Baker said their efforts had resonated with kind people around the world.

“Peta hopes their example will inspire everyone to keep an eye out for animals in danger and do whatever it takes to ensure their safety.”

PETA says they are sending the navy a framed certificate and letter of appreciation. The animal rights group has also offered to pay for the spaying or neutering of the cats.

In 1 rescue photo, a cat was shown to be riding piggy-back on a sailor as his crew mates pulled them both to safety. Other photos show the cats after they were rescued, enjoying food and cuddling in the naval command post in Koh Lipe.

Their rescuers, members from the Air and Coastal Defence Command Operation Unit 491, found the cats the day after they were deployed to assist the crew of the ship that had caught fire. The ship was located about 13 kilometres off Adang Island in the southern province of Satun

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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Thailand News Today | Changes to quarantine, ‘adult content’ ban continues | March 5

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Thailand News Today | Changes to quarantine, ‘adult content’ ban continues | March 5 | The Thaiger

Thailand’s Public Health Minister is chairing a meeting next Monday, where a vaccine passport scheme and potential travel bubbles is on the agenda. Anutin says those who’ve been vaccinated against Covid-19 will be issued with a book to confirm their vaccination. It’s hoped this will make international travel easier, as well as boosting the public’s confidence and helping life return to some kind of normality.

In related news…. From next month, foreign visitors to the Kingdom will be able to experience the delights of “area quarantine”, after the government confirmed the scheme for 5 provinces. Following a meeting with the Public Health Ministry, the Tourism Minister confirmed that Phuket, Krabi, Chiang Mai, Chon Buri and Surat Thani, which includes Koh Samui, have been chosen to pilot the scheme.

P**nhub and other adult websites are remaining blocked in Thailand as they apparently “conflict with good morals for upstanding citizens”. The Thai Government says the websites encourage “poor moral standpoints and can affect youth in a negative manner”.

The Acting Minister of Digital Economy and Society and current Minister of Culture says that the decision that was made by the previous office holder will be upheld. The decision also includes keeping other popular adult websites blocked as the Thai Government has labelled them to be “obscene”. But the move to ban adult content has brought protests with those disagreeing saying such sites are a part of freedom of expression.

A houseowner in the central province of Ang Thong, central Thailand, has discovered 3 skeletons on his land that are thought to be over 3,000 years old. 54 year old Somkiat Briboon says this most recent discovery isn’t the first, as the first lot of bones was found last year after preparing his 17 rai plot of land to be rented out for sugarcane farming.

The Thai PM says he’s ordered an investigation into allegations that the military has been using fraudulent social media accounts to aggravate the ongoing unrest in southern Thailand. Facebook has announced the removal of 185 accounts and groups that it has accused of “information-influencing”, targeting audiences in the deep south of the country, where Muslim insurgents continue to fight for independence. The PM says he’s tasked the Defence Ministry with looking into the matter and explaining it to the public.

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