Police call in WHO official over maid abuse

Police call in WHO official over maid abuse

Ethiopian Yonas Tegegn of the World Health Organisation, seen here while receiving a five-million baht donation to WHO from Foreign Minister Tanasak Patimapragorn last September, has been accused of keeping his Ethiopian maid in slavery in his Nonthaburi home. (Photo by Tawatchai Kemgumnerd)
Ethiopian Yonas Tegegn of the World Health Organisation, seen here while receiving a five-million baht donation to WHO from Foreign Minister Tanasak Patimapragorn last September, has been accused of keeping his Ethiopian maid in slavery in his Nonthaburi home. (Photo by Tawatchai Kemgumnerd)

Police will summon a senior World Health Organisation (WHO) official for questioning next week, after his former maid accused him of keeping her in slave-like conditions.

After escaping from her employer, Ethiopian housemaid Annet (not her real name), aged 24, reported Yonas Tegegn and his wife to Nonthaburi's Pak Kred police station on March 18, and again on Tuesday.

She was assisted by a human rights sub-committee under the Lawyers Council of Thailand.

Pol Col Mana Tienmaungpak of Pak Kret police, said officers would call Dr Tegegn in for questioning next week.

His former maid was accompanied by a local NGO to file another complaint with Lawyers Council of Thailand's human rights advocate Surapong Kongchantuk.

Mr Surapong accused Dr Tegegn, who is also an Ethiopian national, and his wife of detaining the former maid and treating her as a slave.

He also accused them of human trafficking.

According to Mr Surapong, Annet met the couple through an agent in Ethiopia in 2011, before agreeing in 2012 to work for them if they moved to Thailand in July the following year.

The couple agreed to pay 2,000 birr (about 3,000 baht) a month to Annet's family in Ethiopia, but they received only 5,000 birr for the first five months of her employment, said Mr Surapong. Neither Annet or her family has been paid since.

Annet said the couple made her work from 5am until midnight every day, and did not give her any holiday or overtime payment and confiscated her passport, Mr Surapong said. They also allegedly did not give her proper meals and provided a small room for her to live which she shared with a dog.

She fled her employers' house on March 8, after a year and seven months there, and was introduced to a local NGO by an Ethiopian man who found her crying on the street.

Annet has scars on her body, allegedly from torture by her employers. 

The Bangkok Post called Dr Tegegn's WHO office Wednesday but his office staff said he was not available for comment.


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