Tuesday, 24 November 2009 19:38
Chiang Mai (Mizzima) – Fifty four Burmese workers believed to be victims of human traffickers were rescued after Thai officials raided a frozen seafood factory in Trang Province, southern Thailand.
On Monday, Thai officials from Bangkok and Trang province, led by Pol Lt Col Taweep Changtor, from Thai Immigration Police Office, raided a factory of the J.D.P Co. Ltd. a big dried fish producer and ice distributer in Kantang district of Trang Province.
The raid followed information that Burmese workers were detained and face threats in the factory and were believed to have been trafficked. The police found 32 Burmese workers in a house in the factory compound. Another 24 were found in boats anchored near the area. Some of the workers had work documents while most did not.
“Immigration police were tipped off by Burmese workers who fled from the factory. They said that there were workers, who were being forced to work and some are beaten up by the head worker of the factory. The workers are taken to work by a fishery boat captain who acted as an agent searching for migrant workers. Some of them want to return to their country but are forced to work and are detained,” Pol Lt Col Taweep was quoted in a report in the Thai newspaper Manager.
The police said that the owner of the factory denied the accusation and claimed that the workers had work documents in keeping with the law. Some of them who did not have documents are fishermen, who worked for others boats and had no links with the factory.
The officials found out that the factory applied to the Ministry of Labour to hire more than 600 migrant workers. However, the officials are investigating and following leads on agents, who might be human traffickers.
According to a recent report by The Mirror Foundation, a non-governmental organization working on the human trafficking issue in Thailand there are four provinces in southern Thailand which are blacklisted. They are Songkhla, Chon Buri, Samut Prakarn and Samut Sakorn all located on the seashore. It was felt that more provinces have the same problem. There are several trafficking networks that are active in the area because of the high demand for workers in the fishery industry.
Earlier, Issara Somchai, Minister of Social Development and Human Security said 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.