• Pope Francis Highlights Trafficking Issues in Meeting With Prayuth

    BANGKOK (AP) — Pope Francis called for migrants to be welcomed and for women and children to be protected from exploitation, abuse and enslavement as he began a busy two days of activities in Thailand on Thursday.

    Francis pleaded for action against one of the region’s greatest scourges, human trafficking to fuel the forced labor and sex trade industries, as he began a weeklong visit to Asia.

    He praised the Thai government’s efforts to fight human trafficking in a speech delivered at host Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha’s Government House offices. But he appealed for greater international commitment to protect women and children “who are violated and exposed to every form of exploitation, enslavement, violence and abuse.”

    He called for ways to “uproot this evil and to provide ways to restore their dignity.”

    “The future of our peoples is linked in large measure to the way we will ensure a dignified future to our children,” he said.

    The United Nations considers Thailand a key trafficking destination as well as a source of forced labor and sex slaves, who are trafficked at home or abroad. The U.N. anti-trafficking agency says migrants come from Laos, Myanmar, Cambodia or Vietnam, with Cambodian women and children in particular trafficked to beg in Thai cities.

    The U.S. State Department has faulted Thailand for failing to fully crack down on traffickers who induce young Thai girls into pornography, as well as the exploitation, including via debt bondage, of migrant workers in commercial fishing enterprises.

    The Thai government has insisted it has made significant progress in cracking down on human trafficking and has vowed continued cooperation with international bodies to improve.

    Security forces inspect a just-abandoned jungle stockade where human traffickers kept captives under dire conditions in this 5 May, 2015, file photo.

    Francis has made the fight against human trafficking one of the cornerstones of his papacy, calling it a crime against humanity. Under his express wishes, the Vatican has hosted several conferences on eradicating trafficking, featuring women freed from forced prostitution. And during his papacy, an international network of religious sisters, Talitha Kum, has gained greater prominence following decades of quiet efforts to rescue women from traffickers.

    While Thailand has a tradition of taking in migrant laborers and sheltering people fleeing from danger in neighboring countries, it also has a checkered history of deporting foreigners who are in the country illegally, even if they are recognized by the United Nations as refugees who are fleeing persecution.

    In addition, up until it signed an agreement with the U.N. refugee agency this year, Thailand held child asylum-seekers in detention centers.

    Police arrest a suspected human trafficker on Sep. 16, 2019, and rescued 15 women from forced sex work in Saraburi province.

    In his comments made alongside Thai authorities, Francis thanked the country for its historical role welcoming migrants from across the region, who are drawn to Thailand for economic opportunities. But he said all countries must do more to resolve the conflicts that fuel the “tragic exodus” of forced migration.

    “May every nation devise effective means for protecting the dignity and rights of migrants and refugees, who face dangers, uncertainties and exploitation in their quest for freedom and a decent life for their families,” he said.

    Francis had a busy schedule on his first full day of activities of his weeklong tour, which will also take him to Japan.


  • Arrested with 1,000 kg crystal meth and 40,000 Yaba pills.

    Police Lieutenant General Visanu Prasatthong from the Royal Thai Police with Police Lieutenant General Chinaphat Sarasin from the Narcotics Suppression Division and related officials reported the arrest of 3 drug cases with evidence including 40,000 Yaba pills and over 1,000 kilograms of crystal methamphetamine worth together about 360,000,000 THB.

    The first case took place on 10 November 2019. Officials arrested Kriangkrai 22 years old and Worachun 21 years old in Tubklo District, Phichit Province. The men were arrested with large yellow bags that were placed in a truck. Inside the bags were smaller tea packs filled with 1,000 kilograms of crystal methamphetamine. The first arrest leads to another arrest of a Burmese suspect.

    Credit: INN News
    Credit: INN News

    The Burmese suspect was found with a truck as he was relocating drugs from the North of Thailand into Central Thailand. All 3 suspects admitted that they got the drugs from a big seller up in the North, the goal was to spread the drugs into Bangkok and around the city outskirts. All 3 were charged with crystal methamphetamine-related drug distribution charges and are awaiting further prosecution.

    Credit: INN News
    Credit: INN News

    The second case involves drugs sent by mail into the country. The police received information that there were going to be boxes of drugs sent out from Thailand into other countries. 8 kilograms of crystal meth were found in a box being shipped out to Japan at Don Muang Airport. The crystal meth was hidden inside a wall clock that appeared to be heavier than usual. Officials took the clock apart and discovered 8 kilograms of crystal meth.

    Credit: INN News
    Credit: INN News

    The third and last case is the arrest of Jukapong 42 years old and 4 other suspects involved. Police received information that an ex-offender was still in contact with inmates at prisons located in the North and Northeastern part of Thailand. The group will sell drugs online through social media before collecting the goods in neighboring countries. The police tracked the members down and arrested the 5 suspects in Prachuap Khiri Khan province. Evidence included 2 kilograms of crystal methamphetamine, 40,000 Yaba pills, and 1 kilogram of marijuana.

    FB Caption: 8 kilograms of crystal meth was found in a box being shipped out to Japan at Don Muang Airport.


  • Police Bust Trafficker Forcing Kids to Sell Roses to Tourists

    BANGKOK — Immigration police said Friday they arrested a human trafficker who coerced children into selling roses to foreign tourists on Phuket island, and beating them when they failed to meet a quota.

    Immigration police deputy chief Pornchai Kuntee said the suspect is a 24-year-old Cambodian national who allegedly kidnapped two Cambodian children from their parents, and then forced them to sell roses and other goods to tourists in the red light district of Patong.

    The children must work from 8am to 9pm everyday and make at least 2,000 baht in profit at the end of the day, or they would be subject to beatings, Maj. Gen. Pornchai said. The money was pocketed by the traffickers, and the kids were then jailed at a house in Patong when they were off work.

    The suspect, identified as Kim Hang, was charged with several offenses including human trafficking, illegal detention of minors, and forcing minors to work.

    Maj. Gen. Pornchai added that police are seeking to locate and arrest three other Cambodians in the same ring.

    Children selling flowers to foreign tourists remains a common sight in backpacker areas, such as Khaosan Road in Bangkok despite its association with human trafficking.


  • Human Smugglers Work With Corrupt Thai Officials: UN Report

    BANGKOK — As much as 80 percent of irregular migrant workers were ferried into Thailand by smuggling services, sometimes with the help of corrupt Thai officials, a recent report by the United Nations said.

    In a report released at a news conference last week, the UN Office on Drugs and Crime said corruption and bribery are prevalent throughout the process of smuggling migrants into Thailand from Cambodia, Laos and Myanmar.

    “Some groups are reported to operate under the watch or control of corrupt officials who enable them to smuggle migrants into Thailand without interference,” part of the report said.

    However, the same report noted that from 2012 to 2017, between 63,000 and 132,000 irregular migrants from Myanmar were apprehended each year while attempting to enter the Kingdom.

    It also said the number of non-Thai residents increased from an estimated 3.7 million in 2014 to 4.9 million in 2018. 80 per cent or approximately 3.9 million are migrant workers from neighboring Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam looking for higher paying jobs.

    Smuggling services from Myanmar to Thailand cost roughly USD$400, while smuggling services from Cambodia or Laos to Thailand cost around USD$150, according to the paper,

    The report said migrants find smuggling to be a “cheaper, less bureaucratic and otherwise easier option” and many smugglers can provide employment and accommodation in Thailand.

    Between 41,000 and 151,000 Cambodians are detected each year attempting irregular entry into Thailand while the numbers from Laos are between 18,000 to 43,000, the report stated.

    “Laotian migrants are vulnerable to exploitation in the commercial sex trade, garment factories, domestic services, agricultural and construction industries and the fishing and seafood sectors,” the report said.

    Most vulnerable are Rohingya people from Myanmar fleeing persecution by boat to Thailand, Malaysia and beyond.

    In 2017, 22 Thai government officials were convicted for involvement in the smuggling and trafficking of Rohingya from Myanmar and Bangladesh, and the deaths of Rohingya and Bangladeshis in camps along the Thai-Malaysia border.

    “Thai officials were convicted in 2017 of various charges including murder, torture, rape, money laundering and human trafficking. Some officials reportedly stopped some boats and demanded payment before allowing them to proceed,” the report said.

    “To maximize their profits, knowing that law enforcement and border control agencies will seize or destroy the vessel if the clandestine journey is detected, smugglers typically crowd as many people as possible onto old and inexpensive vessels.”

    It continued, “A number of smuggling boats have sunk or capsized, leading to the deaths of several hundred smuggled migrants and asylum seekers.”


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