Govt disputes AP's 'slave' claims

Govt disputes AP's 'slave' claims

Pol Maj Gen Kornchai Klaiklung (left) of the anti-human trafficking division, government spokesman Maj Gen Sansern Kaewkamnerd (centre, speaking) and other officials told a news conference that last week's report on slave-like labour conditions in the shrimp export industry was wrong. THITI WANNAMONTHA
Pol Maj Gen Kornchai Klaiklung (left) of the anti-human trafficking division, government spokesman Maj Gen Sansern Kaewkamnerd (centre, speaking) and other officials told a news conference that last week's report on slave-like labour conditions in the shrimp export industry was wrong. THITI WANNAMONTHA

An Associated Press report alleging that Thai authorities ignored slave-like labour conditions in the shrimp industry "was wrong," a government team told a press conference yesterday.

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Note: The Associated Press reacted quickly to yesterday's government press conference and released this statement: ``We stand firmly behind our reporters' coverage, which has been scrupulous, thorough and fair,'' said Paul Colford, an AP vice president and director of media relations. ``Their stories exposing the enslavement of workers in the Southeast Asian fishing industry have been a source of great pride throughout The Associated Press.'' You can read the original AP report here:

Government denies 'slave' claims in AP report

Patsara Jikkham

The government has dismissed a recent report by the Associated Press that Thai authorities turned a blind eye to slave-like labour conditions in the shrimp industry

During a press briefing at Government House yesterday, a team of government spokesmen and anti-illegal fishing and human trafficking specialists disputed the report, insisting serious efforts have been under way to end labour abuses and requested that the media write fair reports.

Government spokesman Sansern Kaewkamnerd denied the AP report on Dec 13, which alleged that authorities ignored forced labour at shrimp-peeling sheds in Samut Sakhon and that Thailand had become one of the world's leading shrimp-exporters because of low costs resulting from labour abuse.

"The report was wrong and had a widespread impact," said Maj Gen Sansern.

The report exposed alleged slave-like working conditions of Myanmar workers at a Samut Sakhon shrimp-peeling mill, the Gig Peeling Factory.

It highlighted the plight of a Myanmar couple who attempted to escape from the factory.

Responding to media claims that those behind human trafficking rings remain at large, Maj Gen Sansern said that since the National Council for Peace and Order took over national administration, those involved in human trafficking – including government officials, local officials, soldiers and police – were being punished. They face both disciplinary and criminal action, he said.

Thailand is one of the leading shrimp exporters not only because of low production costs, but also because of the quality and freshness of the shrimps, he said.

The experiences of the Myanmar couple cited by the AP report are not representative of the conditions for all workers, he said, citing the 3 million foreign workers in Thailand who are well protected by labour laws.

Moreover, the news agency found the couple because its reporter followed officials who were helping abused workers, Maj Gen Sansern said.

Vice Adm Jumpol Lumikanont, deputy secretary-general of the navy, said the situation described in the AP report happened on Nov 9 at a time when authorities were working to tackle labour abuse in Samut Sakhon.

But the AP report inaccurately claimed officials overlooked the slave-like conditions and the illegal detention of workers.

By using a picture of workers in a cell, the report communicated the idea workers were detained, but what was actually happening in the photo is officials were in the process of sorting out which workers were illegal and which had papers.

Vice Adm Jumpol Lumikanont, deputy secretary-general of the navy complained specifically about this AP photo which purportedly showed shrimp shed workers being detained, when in fact, he said, officials were in the process of sorting out which workers were illegal and which had papers. (AP)

An operation to combat labour abuse started on Nov 9, and 101 of 125 targeted factories were inspected, and the number of factories with labour abuse was reduced, Vice Adm Jumpol said at Government House.

The move came after the European Union gave Thailand a yellow card in April for failing to solve its illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing problems.

An inspection by the EU in October still found labour abuse in the industry and the government was asked to curb the abuse of fishermen, Vice Adm Jumpol said.

In light of this, the government set Nov 9 as the D-Day to start the operation, with 25 teams of inspectors deployed to 22 coastal provinces, he said.

Soldiers on Nov 9 were photographed during a raid and search of rooms at the workers' living quarters at a shrimp shed in Samut Sakhon. (AP)

The Samut Sakhon investigation was spurred on after a Myanmar worker who escaped a shrimp-peeling shed in Samut Sakhon's Muang district alerted the Department of Special Investigation to terrible working conditions.

Vice Adm Jumpol said authorities are still investigating 14 cases involving the abuse of workers under the age of 14, three human trafficking cases and 16 cases in which state officials are suspected of being involved in human trafficking and labour abuse.

Ending labour abuse and human trafficking is the government's national priority and serious efforts are being made to tackle the problems, he said.

Currently, eight police officers in Chumphon, who were implicated in alleged wrongdoings, have also been transferred out of the province, Vice Adm Jumpol said.

"I ask for fair treatment for officials, who are working both on land and at sea. Our work is integrated ... Please do not exaggerate part of a report or photographs in the wrong way," he said.

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  • abuse (noun): cruel, violent or unfair treatment, especially of someone who does not have the power to prevent it - การข่มเหง, การปฏิบัติไม่ดีต่อ
  • actually: used for stressing what is really true or what really happened - ตามความเป็นจริง
  • administration: government - รัฐบาล
  • alert: to tell someone in authority about a danger or problem so that they can take action to deal with - แจ้งให้ทราบ, บอก
  • alleged: claimed to be true, even though this has not yet been proved - ที่กล่าวหา
  • at large: not having been caught by the police - ลอยนวล, ยังไม่ถูกจับกุม
  • authorities (noun): people or government agencies who have the power to make decisions or enforce the law - เจ้าหน้าที่ผู้มีอำนาจ
  • briefing: a meeting in which people receive information or instruction - คำแถลงการณ์สั้น,สรุปแบบสั้นๆ
  • cell: a small room where a prisoner is kept - ห้องขังนักโทษ
  • cited: mentioned - ถูกอ้าง, ถูกกล่าวอ้าง
  • claim (noun): saying that something is true although it has not been proved and other people may not believe it - ข้ออ้าง ข้อกล่าวหา
  • claim: to say that something is true although it has not been proved and other people may not believe it - อ้าง
  • combat (verb): to try to stop something unpleasant or harmful from happening or increasing - ต่อต้าน
  • communicate (verb): to express thoughts, feelings, or information to another person or animal, for example by speaking or writing - สื่อสาร, ติดต่อสื่อสาร
  • conditions: the circumstances or situation in which people live, work or do things - เหตุการณ์, สภาพการ, สถานการณ์
  • couple: two people who are married or are involved in a romantic relationship - คู่แต่งงานกัน, คุ่รัก
  • coverage: the reporting of news and sport in newspapers and on the radio, television or social media - การรายงานข่าว
  • criminal: relating to illegal acts - เกี่ยวกับอาชญากรรม
  • curb: to control or limit something that is harmful - ระงับ, ควบคุม
  • currently: at this time; now - ในปัจจุบัน
  • D-Day (noun): a date on which something important is expected to happen (From the name given to 6 June 1944, the day on which the British, US and other armies landed on the beaches of northern France in the Second World War) -
  • denied (verb): said that something is not true or did not happen - ปฏิเสธ
  • Department of Special Investigation: DSI; a police department investigating serious crimes involving influential people, organised crime, or crimes using highly sophisticated technology - กรมสอบสวนคดีพิเศษ
  • deploy: (of police or soldiers) to put in place ready for action - ส่ง (ทหาร, ตำรวจ) ประจำการ.
  • deputy: a person whose rank is immediately below that of the leader of an organisation - รอง
  • detained: kept in a place and not allowed to leave - กักตัว ควบคุมตัวหรือฝากขัง
  • detention (noun): forced to stay in a place - การกักตัว
  • disciplinary: related to the punishment of people who do not obey the rules - การลงโทษเนื่องจากการฝ่าฝืนวินัย หรือระเบียบ
  • dismiss: to refuse to accept that something might be true or important - ไม่สนใจ,แย้งกลับ
  • dispute: to say that something such as a fact is not true or correct - โต้แย้ง
  • efforts (noun): attempts to do something - ความพยายาม
  • enslavement (noun): forcing someone to work and not allowing them to leave - การทำให้เป็นทาส
  • escape (verb): to get away from a place; to leave a place where you are in danger - หนี
  • exaggerate: to describe something in a way that makes it seem better, worse, larger, more important etc than it really is - กล่าวเกินจริง
  • exporter (noun): a person, company or country that sells goods to another country - ผู้ส่งออก
  • expose: to make something publicly known because you believe it is illegal or dishonest - ตีแผ่ เปิดเผย
  • factory: a building or group of buildings where goods are made - โรงงาน
  • firmly: in a strong or definite way - อย่างหนักแน่น
  • freshness (noun): the fact of food being recently produced or picked and not frozen, dried or preserved in tins or cans - ความสด,ความจืด,ความใหม่
  • highlighted: stressed; made something more noticeable - ที่เน้นย้ำ
  • ignore: to fail to pay attention to; to pretend that you have not noticed or do not know about something - เพิกเฉย
  • illegal: against the law - ผิดกฎหมาย, นอกกฎหมาย
  • impact (noun): an effect or influence - ผลกระทบ
  • implicate: to show or suggest that someone is involved in wrongdoing - โยงใยถึง
  • in light of: as a result of -
  • in the process: carrying out a series of actions to do or make something - ในกระบวนการ
  • inaccurately (adv): in a way that is not completely correct or exact - ซึ่งคลาดเคลื่อน,ซึ่งไม่ถูกต้อง
  • industry: the people and activities involved in producing a particular thing, or in providing a particular service; the production of goods from raw materials, especially in factories - อุตสาหกรรม
  • insist: to keep saying very firmly that something is true, even when other people will not believe you - ยืนกราน
  • inspect: to look at something carefully - ตรวจสอบ, ตรวจสอบอย่างละเอียด
  • inspection: an official process of checking that things are in the correct condition or that people are doing what they should - การตรวจสอบตรวจตรา
  • inspector : an official whose job is to check that things are in the correct condition or that people are doing what they should - ผู้ตรวจสอบ
  • integrated: combining things of different types in one effective system - ที่รวมเข้าด้วยกัน
  • investigation: the process of trying to find out all the details or facts about something - การสอบสวน
  • involved (verb): taking part or having a role in something - เกี่ยวข้อง, มีบทบาท
  • labour: work, especially hard physical work - งานที่ใช้พละกำลัง
  • leading (adjective): among the first and most important in a group - ชั้นหนึ่ง, ชั้นแนวหน้า, ชั้นนำ
  • local: in or related to the area that you live, or to the particular area that you are talking about - ท้องถิ่น
  • media: radio, television, newspaper, the Internet, considered as a group - สื่อ
  • moreover (adv): in addition; furthermore - ยิ่งกว่านั้น, จากนั้น
  • National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) (noun): The military-installed group ruling Thailand following the 2014 coup d'état - คณะรักษาความสงบแห่งชาติ
  • news agency (noun): an organisation that collects news and supplies it to newspapers and television and radio companies - สำนักข่าว, องค์กรรวบรวมข่าวให้สื่อมวลชน
  • officials: people who have the power to make decisions or enforce the law - เจ้าหน้าที่ผู้มีอำนาจ
  • operation: a planned activity involving a lot of people, especially soldiers or police officers - การปฏิบัติการ
  • original: the first of something - เดิม, แบบฉบับ
  • overlook (verb): to fail to notice or consider something - มองพลาด, มองไม่เห็น, เพิกเฉย
  • peeling (noun): removing the outer layer of something - การลอกออก
  • plight: an unpleasant condition, especially a serious, sad or difficult one - สภาพเลวร้าย
  • press: newspapers and magazines, and those parts of television and radio which broadcast news, or reporters and photographers who work for them - สื่อมวลชน
  • press conference: an official meeting where someone makes a formal statement about a particular issue or event to journalists and answers their questions about it - การแถลงข่าว
  • pride: a feeling of respect for yourself - ความภาคภูมิใจ 
  • priority: something important that needs to be done first or needs more attention than anything else - สิ่งที่สำคัญที่สุดเป็นอันดับแรก
  • production: the process of making goods or materials, especially large quantities - การผลิต
  • protect: to make sure that somebody/something is not harmed, injured, damaged, etc - ป้องกัน,อารักขา,คุ้มกัน
  • punish: to make somebody suffer because they have broken the law or done something wrong - ทำโทษ
  • purportedly: said by some people to be real or true, but not proved to be real or true - ซึ่งอ้างว่า
  • quality: the standard of something when it is compared to other things like it; how good or bad something is - คุณภาพ
  • quarters: rooms that are provided for people (monks, soldiers, workers, servants, etc.) to live in - ที่พักอาศัย
  • raid (noun): using force or legal authority to enter a place suddenly in order to arrest people or search for something such as illegal weapons or drugs - การเข้าตรวจค้น
  • reduce: to make something smaller or less in amount, size, importance etc - ลดลง
  • relations: the way in which two people, groups or countries behave towards each other or deal with each other - ความสัมพันธ์
  • release: to allow something to be shown or known to the public or to be available for use - เปิดเผย, ปล่อยข่าว
  • reporter: someone whose job is to write articles or make broadcasts about events in the news - ผู้สื่อข่าว, นักข่าว
  • representative: typical of people or things in a group - เป็นตัวอย่าง, เป็นแบบอย่าง
  • ring: a group of people involved in an activity, especially an illegal one - กลุ่มคณะ
  • scrupulous: very careful to be honest and to do what is morally correct - ซึ่งคำนึงถึงศีลธรรม
  • search (noun): looking somewhere or through something carefully in order to find something - การค้นหา
  • secretary-general (noun): the person who is in charge of the department that deals with the running of a large international or political organisation - เลขาธิการ, เลขาธิการใหญ่
  • shed (noun): a small simple building, usually built of wood or metal, used for keeping things in - เพิง,เพิงเก็บของ,เพิงโรงงาน
  • situation: all the circumstances and things that are happening at a particular time and in a particular place - สถานการณ์
  • slave: 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
  • solve (verb): to successfully deal with a problem or difficult situation; to find out who is responsible for a crime - แก้ปัญหา, คลี่คลาย, หาคำตอบ
  • sort out: to deal satisfactorily or successfully with a problem, a situation, or a person who is having difficulties - จักการ แก้ปัญหา
  • specialist: a person who is an expert in a particular area of work or study - ผู้ชำนาญเฉพาะทาง
  • specifically (adv.): in a detailed and exact way; especially for one purpose - เฉพาะ, เฉพาะเจาะจง
  • spokesman: a person who speaks on behalf of a group or an organization - โฆษก
  • spur: to cause something to happen - ก่อให้เกิด 
  • statement: something that you say or write that gives information or an opinion - แถลงการณ์, คำแถลง
  • tackle: to make an organised and determined attempt to deal with a problem - จัดการกับปัญหา
  • tackle: to make an organised and determined attempt to deal with something - จัดการ, รับมือ
  • target: to direct something at someone or something - ตั้งเป้าหมาย
  • terrible: very bad, having a very poor quality - แย่มาก, ไม่ได้เรื่อง, ห่วย
  • thorough: very complete - อย่างละเอียดรอบคอบ
  • trafficking: dealing in illegal goods, like drugs, weapons or in illegally moving humans or animals from one place to another - การค้าสิ่งที่ผิดกฎหมาย
  • transferred: changed someone’s job or responsibilities - โยกย้ายตำแหน่ง
  • treatment: the process of providing medical care - การรักษา
  • turned a blind eye to (idiom): failed to pay attention to; to pretend that you have not noticed or do not know about something - เพิกเฉย
  • under way (adj): happening now, currently happening - กำลังดำเนินต่อไป
  • unregulated (adj): not controlled by laws or rules - ไม่ได้ควบคุมโดยกฎหมายหรือกฎระเบียบ, ไม่เป็นระเบียบ
  • widespread: happening or existing in many places, or affecting many people - อย่างแพร่หลาย
  • wrongdoing: breaking the law or doing something "wrong" - กระทำผิดศีลธรรม, ละเมิดกฎหมาย
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