Hong kong: Thai police are seeking to bolster cooperation with their counterparts in Hong Kong to combat transnational human trafficking rings.
Pol Maj Gen Saruti Khwaengsopha, commander of the Anti-Trafficking in Persons Division (ATPD) instructed his deputy Pol Col Marut Kanchanakanthakul to lead an ATPD delegation to attend an anti-human trafficking meeting in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region from Sept 20–22.
Pol Maj Gen Saruti told the Bangkok Post they met authorities at Kowloon West Regional Police Headquarters for talks on anti-human trafficking cooperation after Thai women were lured and forced into prostitution in Hong Kong.
"The ATPD is directly responsible for investigating human trafficking cases after Thai women were sent to Hong Kong for prostitution," he said.
Pol Maj Gen Saruti said members of Hong Kong police visited Thailand on March 23 to provide the ATPD with information regarding a case.
They found that a Thai woman belonged to a transnational human trafficking ring and procured other Thai women for prostitution, Pol Maj Gen Saruti said.
With that information, ATPD police arrested a 45-year-old suspect in Kanchanaburi's Tha Maka district on May 18 and charged her with complicity in human trafficking.
According to police, the suspect admitted she had lured Thai women for prostitution in Hong Kong and received 10,000 baht per victim in "commission".
Police said the gang in Hong Kong forced victims into prostitution and reaped the benefits from the illegal sex trade.
Hong Kong police later rescued the victims and sent them back to Thailand where they were given assistance, according to the ATPD.
Pol Maj Gen Saruti hailed the cooperation between the ATPD and Hong Kong police as a success after other human trafficking suspects were arrested.
He added that Thailand and Hong Kong were ready to carry on with joint efforts to combat human trafficking and prevent others from falling victim.
Pol Col Marut said Thailand and Hong Kong were both listed on Tier 2 in the 2023 Trafficking in Persons (TIP) Report issued by the US on June 15.
He said the Thai delegation also met members of the Hong Kong Police Force's Organised Crime and Triad Bureau (OCTB) to discuss cooperation in dealing with human trafficking.
He said it was initially agreed that authorities from both sides would cooperate to boost efficiency in anti-human trafficking efforts.
"Following formal procedures as prescribed by law may take a long time before perpetrators can be arrested," he said.
"We believe information-sharing and coordination through personal channels should help us better deal with transnational human trafficking, particularly prostitution," Pol Col Marut said.
Hong Kong police hold a drill to rescue human trafficking victims and arrest human traffickers. photos by wassayos ngamkham
In Thailand, a system is in place to identify trafficking victims so they can access services they need and police will expand their investigations further to arrest traffickers, Pol Col Marut said.
During their visit to Hong Kong, the ATPD delegation also observed an exercise in which police rescued victims of forced prostitution.
Emphasis was placed on efforts to ensure optimal security for the victims and efficiency in the arrest of perpetrators, he said. "Thai police can apply it to their crime-busting operations," Pol Col Marut said.
He added that during the trip, the delegation also visited the Hong Kong Police Force's Emergency Unit Kowloon West. There, they were briefed on the rescue on Feb 9 of two Thai human trafficking victims kept captive in an apartment.
The rescue was carried out on the instruction of the OCTB chief, with the collaboration of the Department of Consular Affairs and the ATPD, Pol Col Marut said.
Yan Fong-wai, the OCTB chief inspector, said the human trafficking problem in Hong Kong is no different from other countries.
He said most trafficking victims in Hong Kong are from mainland China, with many tricked into working for call-centre gangs there, while some are duped or forced into the sex trade. He said Hong Kong police are willing to work with Thai authorities to crack down on transnational human trafficking.
Alan Chung, superintendent of the Kowloon West regional crime unit, said the meeting was an opportunity for Thai and Hong Kong law enforcers to exchange knowledge and experience.
The meeting was a platform for Thai and Hong Kong police to further boost cooperation. He added Hong Kong police are also planning to send a delegation on a study trip to Thailand in the near future.