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Police foxed by confusing orders
- Subject: Police foxed by confusing orders
- From: suriya@xxxxxxxxxxxx
- Date: Mon, 28 Dec 1998 23:15:00
December 28, 1998
Police foxed by
'Superiors to blame for rough treatment'
Conflicting state orders are being blamed as the reason why alien
victims of human trafficking rings are being treated so coldly by the
International human rights organisations have called on officials to
strictly abide by a 1997 Act which clearly defines anti-human
trafficking measures as well as punishment for those engaged in human
It is clearly stipulated in the act that upon arrest, illegal aliens who are
victims of trafficking rackets must be treated as damaged parties
rather than wrongdoers or suspects under the Immigration Act.
But in practice, most are locked up to await deportation. Law
enforcers either say they are unaware of the law or cite a December
11 Royal Thai Police Office regulation requiring the victims to face due
action before they are sent home.
The confusion has impeded efforts to protect the victims' basic rights
and also denied them the assistance and care they so badly need.
While the act clarifies the victims' status, the police regulation does
exactly the opposite, frustrating officials with contradictory orders,
said a Songkhla immigration police officer who declined to be named.
"I find it so confusing, I don't know what order to adhere to," he said.
Although he is in favour of following the act, he cannot afford to
disobey the directives from his superiors.
Child and women welfare advocates, however, are making moves to
ensure the act is strictly observed and implemented accordingly.
Saisuree Chutikul, chairman of the Senate Committee on the Affairs of
Women, Youth and Elderly, is drafting a memorandum to address the
urgency to protect the rights of victims, particularly women and
children, many of whom were forced into prostitution.
The memo to be acknowledged by relevant agencies such as the
police, the Labour and Social Welfare Ministry and the Public Health
Ministry, also emphasises the importance of expanding to the full the
state's caring capacity in offering temporary shelter to the victims of
Ms Saisuree insisted victims should not be charged and instead
accommodated at the state-run or private welfare homes before they
But her main concern lies with the negative attitude of police towards
the victims who are put behind bars as suspects.
In the past, these foreign sex slaves were refused state assistance for
the simple reason that they were not Thai citizens.
They would be arrested for illegal entry and confined to cramped cells
at the Immigration Police headquarters while their deportation
procedures were being processed. No psychological aid or
counselling was given.
Kemporn Virunrapan, director of the Foundation for Children's
Development, said the authorities argued they did not know they had
to refer the children or women victims to social welfare agencies.
Even if the offices were contacted, the aliens would be kept there for
only a short period. They would only be returned to the immigration
police cells a few days before deportation.
The wrong attitude the authorities harbour must change, she said,
adding these sex slaves had already suffered enough at the hands of
Special Branch Police Bureau statistics showed that every year over
300,000 foreign victims pass through Thailand en route to a third
country where they are either forced into the flesh trade or end up as
The highest number originated from Burma.
Children of the victims also cause a mountain of problems. Some
200,000 of them have been orphaned or are known to have lost
contact with their relatives in their mother countries.
They end up having nothing. No citizenship, no access to schooling or
families to care for. They have to live off the streets as beggars and are
being drawn into the underworld the same way as their parents.
© Copyright The Post Publishing Public Co., Ltd. 1998
Last Modified: Mon, Dec 28, 1998
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