Centre probes officials involved in trafficking
The Department of Special Investigation (DSI) has opened a centre to investigate state officials allegedly involved in human trafficking, according to Justice Minister Somsak Thepsutin.
Mr Somsak said the centre represents a crucial effort to meet the government's goal of elevating the country in the Trafficking in Persons (TIP) Report, from the current Tier 2 to Tier 1, in five years.
The TIP is an annual report published by the United States Department of State. Thailand moved up from the Tier 2 Watch List to Tier 2 in the latest report, released last month.
The report said while the government of Thailand does not fully meet the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking, it is making significant efforts to do so.
Among 14 points highlighted as areas where Thailand should try harder is for the country to scale up law enforcement, prosecutions and convictions, particularly in forced labour cases.
Mr Somsak said the centre has already taken up cases regarding officials receiving kickbacks for turning a blind eye to human trafficking gangs operating karaoke bars as a front in Chiang Rai and Kanchanaburi.
The minister said many more officials are being probed by the centre.
Another centre is also up and running to shelter trafficking victims and provide rehabilitation, he added.
The DSI's Bureau of Human Trafficking Crime says that in the past five years, it has managed to wrap up 60 cases of in which state officials were also suspects. Twenty cases are still being investigated, Mr Somsak said.