Police boast of anti-trafficking achievements
Thai police boasted several achievements in fighting human trafficking last year, highlighting prosecution against wrongdoers including government officials.
In the Trafficking In Persons Report, issued by the US State Department's Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons, last year, the department listed a few recommendations, such as: "proactively investigate and prosecute officials allegedly complicit in trafficking, and convict and punish those found guilty with dissuasive sentences."
Royal Thai Police adviser and head of the group Thailand Internet Crimes Against Children, Tamasak Wicharaya, said that last year, 793 defendants were prosecuted, including 716 Thais and 77 foreigners, 424 male and 369 female.
The court convicted and sentenced 640 of them which accounted for 80.7% while cases against 17 of the defendants were dropped, he said.
The number of convicted offenders last year was the highest since the promulgation of the anti-human trafficking act in 2008, partly because 62 people were convicted in the human trafficking case in Padang Besar that occurred in 2015.
In this criminal case, 22 government officials were convicted, 26 officials were fired and 28 are facing disciplinary investigation.
The Criminal Court on July 19 last year handed down a lengthy ruling in a major human trafficking trial with 103 accused over their role in the trafficking of Rohingya migrants to jungle camps in the southern province of Songkhla.
It is believed to be the country's biggest human trafficking case ever tried in court.
Lt Gen Manas Kongpan, former head of the 42nd Military Circle in Songkhla and army adviser, received a jail sentence of 27 years for multiple human trafficking charges and other offences while Banchong Pongphon, or Ko Chong, the mayor of Padang Besar, was sentenced to 78 years in prison.
Four police officers have been transferred and are facing investigation for allegedly taking bribes from an entertainment business in Phu Rua district of Loei province. Four police officers await the same fate related to the case of Nataree Entertainment massage parlour in Bangkok, Pol Gen Tamasak said.
Six police officers are also under investigation in the case of an entertainment business in Ubon Ratchathani's Khong Chiam district when a military officer was arrested and jumped bail in a human trafficking case in Kanchanaburi. After slow progress of the case, the Department of Special Investigation forwarded the investigation report of three police officers in the case to the National Anti-Corruption Commission.
In August last year, the Criminal Court sentenced Suwan Sukmak, a fishery boat captain, to four years in jail and imposed a 450,000 baht fine after a Cambodian labourer was rescued from abuse in a fishing trawler in 2011.
Anti-Trafficking in Persons Division chief Kornchai Klayklueng said other high profile cases regarded as successful in fighting human trafficking included cracking down on a Ugandan human trafficking ring that lured Ugandan victims into the sex trade in Bangkok and Pattaya, and the sexual abuse of a three-year-old child broadcast online from Phitsanulok.
Besides integration among various domestic and foreign agencies, police pointed to amended and stronger laws that allow more effective work practices.