Cops to fight trafficking by the book

Police are handing out a manual to officers on how to combat human trafficking.

The anti-trafficking manual, which was sponsored by the US government, was published last week by the Human Rights and Development Foundation (HRDF) and the Royal Thai Police.

Thailand has been on the US government's Tier 2 Watch List in the Trafficking in Persons Report for the past two years.

The US will review the status again in February. If Thailand makes the Tier 2 list for a third time, it will be automatically downgraded to Tier 3 _ the lowest classification _ which could mean that non-tariff sanctions are imposed.

Pol Gen Chatchawal Suksomjit, a police force adviser, said the annual trafficking report should serve as a wake-up call for law enforcement agencies.

The launch of the anti-trafficking guidebook was intended to help improve their efficiency in tackling the problem.

"Human trafficking existed before the report's launch in 2000, but the report has prompted us to address some loopholes," Pol Gen Chatchawal said.

The 346-page manual was given to 100 police officers from the Children, Women and Family Protection Division, Anti-Human Trafficking Centre, Border Patrol Police, regional police and two police representatives from the deep South at the launch ceremony in Bangkok.

Copies will be sent to nearly 1,500 police stations nationwide, said Pol Gen Chatchawal, who was assigned to head the Anti-Trafficking Centre in October.

He has asked police nationwide to identify vulnerable areas and this information will be used to produce a map of human trafficking hotspots.

The manual explains the laws on human trafficking and how to apply them.

Police are now focusing on women being trafficked into prostitution, trafficked beggars and trafficked migrant workers, Pol Gen Chatchawal said.

He conceded that out of the 80-100 complaints that police received each month about human trafficking, only a few proceed to the final stages of the judicial process.

Pol Gen Chatchawal has set a target for police to process at least five human trafficking cases a month.

HRDF secretary Somchai Homla-or said Thailand was experienced in addressing trafficking in women and children, but is still inefficient at dealing with the trafficking of workers.

Differentiating between illegal immigrants, illegal migrant workers and trafficked people is difficult, he said.

Rarinthip Sirorat, deputy permanent secretary for social development and human security, said the reports help remind law enforcement agencies to work in a more unified and concerted manner.

Her ministry will submit the latest information on human trafficking to the US State Department next month, and the 2013 trafficking report will be released in June.

About the author

Writer: Achara Ashayagachat
Position: Senior Reporter