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‘World Day against Trafficking in Persons’. Thailand in the middle of the world’s human trafficking hot spot.

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‘World Day against Trafficking in Persons’. Thailand in the middle of the world’s human trafficking hot spot. | The Thaiger
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Today is ‘World Day against Trafficking in Persons’ – a day where we reflect on the many victims of trafficking who live among us, but have been forced into silence due to threats to their life, retaliation against their family, feelings of hopelessness, or being enslaved and physically unable to speak out. The day has special meaning in Thailand where up to 103 officials have just been tried for their part in the trafficking of Rohingas and Bangladeshis back in 2012 following the discovery of mass graves along the Thai Malaysian border.

In Southeast Asia, data from those assisted by the International Organization for Migration (IOM) show that the region is a hotbed of trafficking, accounting for a quarter of all cross-border cases identified worldwide. Most victims do not travel far as movements are largely intra-regional and domestic.

Human trafficking does not only occur on the fringes of society; it is a part of an everyday reality, and we may unknowingly be complicit in the trade. Numerous media exposés have linked the food we eat with slave labor on farms and fishing boats – a significant area of concern for Thailand. Victims of trafficking are also known to work at hotels, construction sites and bars. Many victims find themselves laboring for years receiving only a small fraction of the compensation they were promised, or without receiving any payment for their work at all.

One of the reasons for this trend is the demand for cheap goods and services, which in turn depend on cheap labor. Countries both rich and poor rely on migrant workers to fill jobs that are known as “3D” – dirty, dangerous and difficult. Men and women, typically from communities with large numbers of people ready to enter the workforce but finding limited opportunities, are often tricked or forced into these hard labor jobs under by a promise of good wages in sectors like agriculture, construction, domestic work and manufacturing.

Protecting these migrant workers remains an uphill task. Inadequate channels for migrants to secure work and the lack of systems by which skills accumulated through work experience are recognized and rewarded puts migrant workers at risk of exploitation through fraudulent recruitment agencies and brokers. Their vulnerability to traffickers is then compounded by their lack of awareness of their rights and recourse should they find themselves in a situation of exploitation.

Tackling the issue requires a holistic approach and efforts from all stakeholders. Thankfully in the case of Thailand, a plethora of organizations, each with their own unique approaches, exist to protect and assist victims.

NGOs are often the first organizations to establish contact with victims and provide essential support. IOM – the UN Migration Agency – places priority on protection and prevention, training front-line officials on victim identification, conducting safe migration outreach in migrant communities, preparing victims of trafficking for trials as witnesses, and providing them with reintegration assistance.

For the Royal Thai Government, combating human trafficking remains high on the national agenda. Significant progress has been made since Thailand was elevated from Tier 3 to the Tier 2 watch list of the US State Department’s Trafficking in Persons Report in 2016 (where it remains today).

Notable improvements include amendments to the Anti-Trafficking Act, which now clearly spells out the definition of ‘Forced Labor’ and increases provisions for punishment; as well as the enactment of several key ministerial regulations that restrict unlicensed recruitment agencies and allow migrant trafficking victims to stay in Thailand for up to two years.

Thailand is also proactive in initiating cross-border cooperation. Since the world’s first bilateral Memorandum of Understanding on trafficking was signed with Cambodia in 2003, Thailand has continued to set up similar collaborations with its other neighbors; the most active of which is the area-based Border Cooperation Mechanism on Anti-Trafficking in Persons (BCMATIP). Set in 2011, the IOM-facilitated mechanism focuses on information exchange and returns with Myanmar.

At every level, more can always be done on prevention and more assistance can always be provided to victims. In addition, emphasis should also be placed on engagement at the citizen level, something that has yet to become commonplace in Thailand despite the Royal Thai Government’s strong promotion of its National Anti-Trafficking hotline – 1300.

Recently, the IOM received a tip-off from a member of the public who suspected a woman he was chatting with on a popular dating app had been forced into prostitution. Follow-up eventually found that she had indeed been trafficked, and was rescued by an NGO partner. She has since returned to her country of origin with the IOM’s help and is being provided with reintegration assistance. This example perfectly illustrates the importance of educating the public on recognizing victims of trafficking and the available avenues of assistance.

So, continuing from tomorrow’s ‘World Day Against Trafficking in Persons’ and every day of the year, let us not turn a blind eye to the severe violations of human rights that occur on a daily basis. Instead, we should speak against these atrocities and work to give a voice to those who need it most.

Dana Graber Ladek

Chief of Mission of the International Organization for Migration (IOM) in Thailand.

‘World Day against Trafficking in Persons’. Thailand in the middle of the world's human trafficking hot spot. | News by The Thaiger

‘World Day against Trafficking in Persons’. Thailand in the middle of the world's human trafficking hot spot. | News by The Thaiger

‘World Day against Trafficking in Persons’. Thailand in the middle of the world's human trafficking hot spot. | News by The Thaiger

 

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Thailand

Strong winds knock down shipping container, crushing truck and injuring driver

Caitlin Ashworth

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Strong winds knock down shipping container, crushing truck and injuring driver | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Sanook

A truck driver was severely injured after strong winds from Sunday night’s storm caused a shipping container to fall from a 7 storey stack at the Samut Prakan port and smash down onto an 18-wheel truck with the driver inside.

Workers rushed to pull the driver, Raphin Noiwanit, out of the crushed truck. They say he was unconscious and sent to Pu Chao Saming Phrai Hospital. 5 other shipping containers were knocked down from the 7 storey stack during the storm around 9:30pm last night. Only 1 of the containers landed on the truck parked below. The workers say it was “unbelievable” that the winds could be strong enough to take down 6 heavy shipping containers.

SOURCE: Nation Thailand

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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

Dengue fever antibodies might contribute to Thailand’s low Covid-19 count

Caitlin Ashworth

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Dengue fever antibodies might contribute to Thailand’s low Covid-19 count | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Flickr

Antibodies from dengue fever might raise immunity against Covid-19, according to study done in Brazil. It suggests a correlation between the mosquito transmitted illness and the coronavirus, citing lower Covid-19 cases in areas with past dengue outbreaks. Thai doctor Manoon Leechawengwongs says this might be why Thailand has significantly less Covid-19 cases than other countries around the world.

Thailand has more than 100,000 dengue patients every year, he says, adding that many locals take the BCG vaccine for tuberculosis to prevent dengue. There have been 3,545 Covid-19 cases in Thailand with 59 deaths and 3,369 recoveries.

Duke University professor Miguel Nicolelis led the study and recently spoke to Reuters reporters about his findings. He says the study first focused on the spread of Covid-19 in Brazil and they came across the correlation between dengue and the coronavirus by accident. The study says areas in Brazil with high numbers of dengue infections had a low number Covid-19 cases while areas with low numbers of dengue cases had a high number of Covid-19 cases.

“This striking finding raises the intriguing possibility of an immunological cross-reactivity between dengue’s Flavivirus serotypes and SARS-CoV-2 … If proven correct, this hypothesis could mean that dengue infection or immunization with an efficacious and safe dengue vaccine could produce some level of immunological protection (against the coronavirus).”

Miguel adds past studies found that those with dengue antibodies can falsely test positive for Covid-19.

“This indicates that there is an immunological interaction between two viruses that nobody could have expected, because the two viruses are from completely different families.”

The study was posted on MedRxiv, but has not yet been peer reviewed. Manoon warns that Thai people should still abide by coronavirus prevention measures to prevent a possible second wave.

Click HERE to read the study on how dengue fever may have influenced the spread of Covid-19 in Brazil.

SOURCES: Reuters | Nation Thailand|Worldometer

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Bangkok

Bangkok heist nets gold ornaments valued at 5.6 million baht

Caitlin Ashworth

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Bangkok heist nets gold ornaments valued at 5.6 million baht | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Thairath

Police are searching for a man who allegedly robbed a Bangkok gold shop at gunpoint, stealing gold ornaments valued around 5.6 million baht. The man allegedly pointed a gun at employees, forcing them to hand over 3 trays of gold ornaments.

The Yaowarat Krungthep shop is located at the entrance of Tesco Lotus in Bangkok’s Lat Phrao district. Since the shop is near the building’s entrance, it was easy for the alleged robber to escape and drive off on a motorcycle, according to Chokechai police.

The selling price for the gold ornaments are 28,350 per piece, according to the Gold Traders Association. Altogether, it’s estimated the alleged robber ran off with about 5.6 million baht worth of gold.

Police are reviewing the shop’s surveillance camera footage as well as video from outside the Tesco Lotus and nearby roads. Deputy police chief Suchart Theerasawat says they have a lead on the suspected robber, but are fact checking evidence before making an arrest.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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