Maid slavery in Thailand: UN diplomat settles case out of court

Maid slavery in Thailand: UN diplomat settles case out of court

Emebet Mono Bezabh, 25, the Ethiopian maid who claimed she was enslaved by her UN diplomat boos was supported by three Thai organisations — the Foundation for Women, Human Rights and Development Foundation and the Lawyers Council of Thailand. Protesters here show their support. Inset: The UN diplomat accused of enslaving his Ethiopian maid Yonas Tegegn (Source: Bangkok Post)
Emebet Mono Bezabh, 25, the Ethiopian maid who claimed she was enslaved by her UN diplomat boos was supported by three Thai organisations — the Foundation for Women, Human Rights and Development Foundation and the Lawyers Council of Thailand. Protesters here show their support. Inset: The UN diplomat accused of enslaving his Ethiopian maid Yonas Tegegn (Source: Bangkok Post)

Slapped hard & beaten 3 times a week by UN diplomat boss, only fed rice, forced to sleep with family dog, passport & pay withheld, Thai courts finally give Ethiopian maid justice.


UN diplomat settles maid slavery case out of court

Reuters News agency

NONTHABURI - An Ethiopian house maid who was suing the head of the UN World Health Organization (WHO) in Thailand and his wife for beating and enslaving her on Monday settled the lawsuits out of court.

Emebet Mono Bezabh, 25, worked as a maid for Yonas Tegegn's family in an expatriate neighbourhood in Nonthaburi, north of Bangkok, for nearly two years.


She said she was beaten at least three times a week by Mr Tegegn's wife, only allowed to eat rice, and forced to sleep with the family dog.

"Once she slapped me so much that for a long time afterward, some liquid was coming out of my ear. The wife told the husband, and he brought me medicine," Ms Bezabh told the Thomson Reuters Foundation via a translator at Nonthaburi provincial court.

Mr Tegegn brought Ms Bezabh from Ethiopia, his home country, to Bangkok in 2013 when he took up his post as WHO's Thailand country representative and employed her until March this year when she escaped with the help of a neighbour.


She said her employers confiscated her passport and denied her any payment.

Mr Tegegn, who came to the court to sign an agreement and pay Ms Bezabh a confidential amount, declined to speak to the Thomson Reuters Foundation. There is no admission of wrongdoing in the out-of-court settlement.


Ms Bezabh, supported by three Thai organisations — the Foundation for Women, Human Rights and Development Foundation and the Lawyers Council of Thailand — dropped a criminal case against Mr Tegegn and his wife, and a civil case in a labour court.

The lawsuits accused Mr Tegegn and his wife of violating labour rights and breaching the 2008 Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act.

Activists and lawyers supporting Ms Bezabh had worried that Mr Tegegn would receive diplomatic immunity, and publicised the case shortly after she had escaped his home.

A WHO official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said Mr Tegegn was put on leave and the WHO brought in an acting country head, but the official was unable to confirm Mr Tegegn's current status.

The WHO's website for Thailand still lists Mr Tegegn, who has worked for the organisation since 1995, as country representative. No one at WHO's headquarters in Geneva was immediately available to comment officially on the case.

Ms Bezabh's lawyer Kohnwilai Teppunkoonngam said there was still much to do to improve legal protection for vulnerable workers, especially the domestic workers of diplomats employed by international organisations such as the United Nations.

"International organisation staff in some positions have privileges under international law. In this case, they had privilege and were under the radar of Thai labour law," she said.

Ms Bezabh, who was orphaned at the age of five and is illiterate, was uncomfortable in Mr Tegegn's presence and incredulous that the man she had regarded as powerful and untouchable had agreed to pay her a settlement.

"This money doesn't make up for what they've done to me," Ms Bezabh said, clicking her tongue and shaking her head.

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  • accused: to be said to have done something wrong or committed a crime - ถูกกล่าวหา
  • Act: a law passed by a country’s government - กฎหมาย
  • acting: doing the work of the usual person in a particular job while they are not there, or until a new person starts - ที่รักษาการแทน
  • activist: someone who takes part in activities that are intended to achieve political or social change, especially someone who is a member of an organisation - นักกิจกรรม
  • admission: agreeing that something is true, especially when you are unhappy, sorry or surprised about it - การยอมรับ
  • anonymity: when someone's name is not given or known - การไม่ระบุชื่อ
  • anti (adjective): against - ตรงกันข้าม, ต้าน
  • available: not too busy to do something - ใช้ประโยชน์ได้
  • beat: to hit someone violently several times - ตี, เคาะ, หวด, ตบ, เฆี่ยน
  • beaten: when someone is hit violently several times - ตี, เคาะ, หวด, ตบ, เฆี่ยน
  • breach (noun): a failure to follow a law or rule - การละเมิดกฎหมาย, การละเมิดกฎข้อบังคับ
  • case: a matter that is being officially investigated or heard by a court - คดี
  • case: a particular situation or a situation of a particular type - กรณี, เหตุการณ์, สถานการณ์
  • civil: of a case filed a court that deals with non-criminal matters, especially complaints made by people against other people or organisations - คดีที่ยื่นฟ้องต่อศาลแพ่ง
  • comment: to express an opinion - แสดงความคิดเห็น
  • condition: something that must be true or must be done before another thing can happen - เงื่อนไข
  • confidential: secret, often in a formal, business or military situation - ที่เป็นความลับ
  • confirm (verb): to state or show that something is definitely true or correct, especially by providing evidence - ยืนยัน
  • confiscate: to take away - ยึด
  • council: a group of people chosen to give advice, make rules, do research, provide money - สภา, คณะกรรมการ
  • court: the place where legal trials take place and where crimes, etc. are judged - ศาล
  • current: of the present time - ปัจจุบัน
  • decline (verb): to say politely that you will not accept something, do something, or say something - ปฏิเสธ, ปฏิเสธที่จะทำ 
  • deny (verb): to refuse to allow somebody to have something - ปฎิเสธ, ไม่ยอมรับ
  • diplomat: an official whose job is to represent their government in a foreign country - นักการทูต
  • diplomatic immunity: a situation where someone working for a foreign embassy cannot be taken to court and punished for breaking the law in the country where he/she is working - ความคุ้มกันทางทูต
  • domestic worker: a maid; a helper who works in the home - ผู้หญิงที่รับจ้างทำงานบ้าน
  • employ: to have someone work or do a job for you and pay them for it - ว่าจ้าง, จ้าง
  • employer: a person, company, or organisation that pays someone to work for them as a member of their staff - นายจ้าง
  • enslave: madke into a slave which is a person who is owned by other people; a person who is treated as a thing to be owned, personal property of another ทาส, ผู้ทำงานหนักและได้ค่าแรงต่ำ -
  • escape (verb): to get away from a place; to leave a place where you are in danger - หนี
  • expatriate (expat): a person living in a country that is not their own - คนที่อาศัยอยู่ต่างประเทศ (เป็นเวลานาน)
  • headquarters: the place where an organisation or company has its main offices - กองบัญชาการ
  • illiterate: unable to read and write - อ่านไม่ออกเขียนไม่ได้
  • immediately (adv): happening right after something else with no delay; right away - ทันที
  • incredulous: showing that you find something hard to believe; not able to believe something, or not wanting to believe it - ซึ่งเหลือเชื่อ, ซึ่งไม่น่าเชื่อ, ที่ไม่อยากจะเชื่อ
  • international: connected with or involving two or more countries - นานาชาติ, สากล, ระหว่างประเทศ
  • labour: work, especially hard physical work - งานที่ใช้พละกำลัง
  • lawsuit: a case that a court is asked to decide involving a disagreement between two people or groups - คดีที่ยื่นฟ้องต่อศาล
  • lawyer: an attorney - ทนาย
  • leave: a period of time when you are allowed to be away from work for a holiday/vacation or for a special reason - การลาหยุด, การลาพัก
  • legal: relating to the law - เกี่ยวกับกฎหมาย
  • liquid: a substance that flows freely and is not a solid or a gas, for example water or oil - ของเหลว
  • maid: a female servant in a house or hotel - สาวใช้, หญิงรับใช้
  • neighbour: someone who lives near you, - เพื่อนบ้าน
  • neighbourhood (noun): a particular area of a city or town or other area - ละแวก, ย่าน
  • official: someone with an important position in an organisation - เจ้าหน้าที่
  • officially: publicly and by somebody who is in a position of authority - อย่างเป็นทางการ
  • orphan: to make a child an orphan (a child whose parents have died) - ทำให้เป็นเด็กกำพร้า
  • passport (noun): the official government document that people need to travel outside their own country - หนังสือเดินทาง
  • position: a job - ตำแหน่ง
  • post: a job/position in a company or organisation - ตำแหน่งการงาน
  • powerful (adj.): being able to control and influence people and events - ที่มีอิทธิพล
  • presence: the fact of being in a particular place, thing or situation - การเข้าร่วม, การมีอยู่
  • privilege: a special benefit that is available only to a particular person or group - เอกสิทธิ์
  • protection: the act of protecting somebody/something; the state of being protected - การอารักขา, การปกป้อง
  • provincial (adj): related to "provinces" , the different parts of a country - ประจำจังหวัด, ส่วนท้องถิ่น
  • publicise: to make information about something generally available - เผยแพร่, ประกาศ
  • regarded as: considered to be - ถือว่า
  • representative: someone who has been chosen or elected by a person or group to vote, give opinions, or make decisions for them - ผู้แทน
  • right: a moral or legal claim to have or get something or to behave in a particular way - สิทธิ
  • settle: to reach a decision or an agreement about something, or to end a disagreement - แก้ปัญหา
  • settlement: the process of making the final payment and transfer of asset bought in a buy and sell transaction -
  • settlement: a formal agreement that ends a disagreement - ข้อตกลง, การทำข้อตกลง
  • shake (past form shook): to move or make someone or something move with short, quick movements - สั่น, สั่นสะเทือน, เขย่า
  • sign: sign agreement, put your signature on an agreement; agree to do something in exchange for something such as money - เซ็นสัญญา
  • slap: a quick hit with the flat part of the hand - ตบ
  • staff: workers employed by a person or organisation considered as a group - คณะผู้ทำงาน, คนงาน
  • status: official or legal position - สถานภาพ
  • support: to give help, encouragement or sympathy to somebody - สนับสนุน, เป็นกำลังใจ
  • supporter (noun): a person who helps and supports a person, organization or idea - ผู้สนับสนุน
  • tongue: the soft part in the mouth that moves around, used for tasting, swallowing, speaking, etc - ลิ้น
  • trafficking: dealing in illegal goods, like drugs, weapons or in illegally moving humans or animals from one place to another - การค้าสิ่งที่ผิดกฎหมาย
  • translator: a person who takes something that a person says or writes in one language and says it or writes it in another language - นักแปล, ผู้แปล
  • uncomfortable: anxious, embarrassed or afraid and unable to relax; making you feel like this - ไม่สบายใจ, อึดอัด, อึดอัดใจ
  • under the radar: not detected, identified or dealt with by ....... -
  • untouchable: nothing can be done to them; protected -
  • violate: to do something that is against a law, rule or agreement - ฝ่าฝืน, ละเมิด
  • vulnerable: easily damaged or harmed - ซึ่งถูกทำลายได้ง่าย
  • wrongdoing: breaking the law or doing something "wrong" - กระทำผิดศีลธรรม, ละเมิดกฎหมาย
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