WHO vows maid abuse probe

WHO vows maid abuse probe

Photo courtesy Ministry of Public Health
Photo courtesy Ministry of Public Health

The World Health Organisation (WHO) will investigate allegations that its representative to Thailand Yonas Tegegn, an Ethiopian national, treated his former housemaid like a slave.

In a statement issued Thursday, the WHO said it was taking the accusations seriously, despite the allegations being a private matter.

Lawyers Council of Thailand's human rights advocate Surapong Kongchantuk on Wednesday accused Dr Tegegn of detaining his former maid, a 24-year-old Ethiopian, Annet (not her real name), in slave-like conditions, and being involved in human trafficking.

Annet last month filed complaints at Nonthaburi's Pak Kret police station, alleging her former employer mistreated her while she was working for the family in Thailand.

Responding to the claims, the WHO hinted that Dr Tegegn might be stripped of his diplomatic immunity.

"As international civil servants, some immunities are granted to WHO staff members to facilitate the proper exercise of their functions. However, these immunities can be waived by the organisation when they may impede the proper administration of justice," said the WHO.

Mr Surapong said diplomatic immunity is supposed to protect a person from being attacked while on a mission for his organisation, not protect against his wrongdoing in a personal matter.

"The matter has nothing to do with his work as WHO's representative to Thailand," he said.

Mr Surapong also said the allegations also involved his wife Serkalem Guadi who has no diplomatic immunity.

Mr Surapong said Annet has scars on her body, allegedly from torture by her ex-employers. However, police said they found no bruises on Annet.

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