by Usa Pichai
Sunday, 05 April 2009 23:38
Chiang Mai (Mizzima) – Two alleged Thai agents of human traffickers were picked up by Thai officials for deceiving workers and making them work in the fishery sector in slave like conditions, even as activists warned that the economic crisis would lead to more human trafficking.
Officials of The Children Juveniles and Women’s Division, The Crime Suppression Division and the Thai Royal Police held a press conference on Friday and said that the police arrested Chairat Nuanpan (49) from Songkhla Province and Jen Khumsap (44) from Bangkok for human trafficking. They sold the workers in the fishery sector.
The arrests took place after the workers managed to escape and informed the police.
Later the police arrested a member of another suspected trafficking gang called “Gang Je Taen” from Samut Sakorn province, a major fishery sector in Thailand. The suspect is Wisut Iempin (40) from Bangkok.
Malisa Promkote from the Anti-Human Trafficking Centre and The Mirror Foundation Bangkok told Mizzima that the current economic crisis would lead to an increase in human trafficking, particularly forced labour in the fishery sector.
Promkote said that in many cases migrant workers from Burma and Cambodia have been deceived by agents to work in the fisher sector in Thailand. Here they work like slaves without pay.
“We found migrant boys working, who were just nine to ten years old. Migrants from Burma and Cambodia were hired to work in the boats while there are many undocumented cases of exploitation of labour. They are not allowed to go back for over to two to three years. They are made to work hard for long hours and face acute shortage of food. Some have been beaten up or killed and thrown into the ocean,” she said.
She added that most of the victims from neighboring countries did not know what they were heading for when they left home. The agent told them that he would arrange for work in factories in Thailand. Some of them were sedated with sleeping pills and found themselves in the boats.
The police could only arrest a few agents. There are several trafficking networks that are active because of the high demand for workers in the fishery industry.
Issara Somchai, Minister of Social Development and Human Security said at a conference last week that Thailand has the biggest number of fishing boats in the lower part of Asia and many are using illegal labourers from Burma and Cambodia to work on the vessels.
There are an estimated two million Burmese migrants in Thailand.