Saturday, January 31, 2015

Thai 'confidence' in anti-trafficking record belied by statistics

BANGKOK Fri Jan 30, 2015 7:52am EST
Thailand's Foreign Minister General Tanasak Patimapragorn addresses the 69th United Nations General Assembly at the U.N. headquarters in New York September 27, 2014. REUTERS/Eduardo Munoz 
(Reuters) - Thailand identified fewer victims of human trafficking last year than in 2013 and convicted fewer perpetrators of the crime, according to a government report aimed at lifting the country from a U.S. list of the world's worst offenders.

The U.S. State Department last year downgraded Thailand to the lowest category in its influential annual ranking of countries by their counter-trafficking efforts.

Thai officials facing prosecution over human trafficking

Over a dozen government officials in Thailand are facing prosecution on the charge of human trafficking.

File photo shows women and children from Myanmar’s persecuted minority of Rohingya Muslims.According to Thailand’s junta officials on Friday, senior policemen and a navy officer are among the officials, who are detained and being prosecuted with regard to this issue.

Deputy Foreign Minister Don Pramudwinai said the arrests prove that Thailand’s generals are resolute in their decision to bring to justice officials involved in human trafficking.

Thailand: Armed vigilantes tackle human trafficking of Bangladeshis and Rohingya Muslims

Muhammed Ariful Islam, 22, a painter from Dhaka who was held captive on a ship before being abandoned on a remote island, cries at a government shelter in Takua Pa district of Phang Nga in Thailand, on October 17, 2014With his bullet-proof vest, shotgun and sunglasses, Kompat Sompaorat could be mistaken for a member of a SWAT team. He actually belongs to a group of Thai civilians tracking down human traffickers on one of Asia's busiest smuggling routes.

The volunteers – mainly fishermen and other villagers – patrol the estuaries and jungles of Phang Nga province, a popular tourist destination in southern Thailand a short drive from the famous resort island of Phuket.

They are motivated by humanitarian concerns, but also worry that the presence of armed smugglers and impoverished refugees could lead to an increase in crime and scare away tourists.

Malaysia: Traffickers kidnap, torture, hold Rohingya to ransom

BUKIT MERTAJAM, Malaysia Wed Jan 28, 2015 7:09pm EST
(Reuters) - Abul Kassim, a Rohingya asylum seeker, was snatched from his home in the northern Malaysian state of Penang on Jan. 12. The next morning, his beaten and bloodied body was found.

Rohingya men stand in a line at a centre to register for a temporary card issued by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in Kuala Lumpur in this February 27, 2014 file photo.  REUTERS-Samsul SaidThat day, police moved on the 40-year-old's alleged killers. Raiding a house in the neighboring state of Kedah, they rescued 17 Rohingya migrants being held against their will, according to a statement by Penang police.

Eight alleged traffickers from Malaysia, Myanmar and Bangladesh were arrested.

The murder of Abul Kassim casts rare light on what Rohingya activists say is widespread abuse by human traffickers in Malaysia, who are willing to use extreme methods to protect their lucrative but illegal business.