Thai officials under scrutiny after 59 Rohingya found on remote island
The National Security Council (NSC) said on Monday that an investigation will be launched to see if any Thai officials had a hand in the trafficking of 59 Rohingya people found on a remote island in Satun province.
NSC chief General Supot Malaniyom said he had heard that Thai officials may be involved in human trafficking.
“But police will launch an investigation to find out if they were victims of a human-trafficking gang. If not, they will be regarded as illegal migrants sneaking into the country.”
Supot added that Thai investigators will coordinate with their counterparts in neighbouring countries to ensure the procedure is in line with international standards and human rights principles.
The Third Naval Area learned on Saturday that a group of unknown people were spotted on the remote Koh Dong in Satun’s Tarutao National Park. The island is to the west of Koh Lipe.
Naval officers and park officials were deployed to check and found 31 men, 23 women, three boys and two girls on the island. All are Rohingya.
Royal Thai Navy spokesman Vice Adm Pokkrong Monthatpalin said the group was given food and drink before being handed over to the Langu Police Station for investigation.
The group reportedly told police that they were heading to Malaysia from Bangladesh on a large fishing boat, but the captain abandoned them on the island claiming they had reached Malaysia.
On Sunday, assistant police chief Pol Lt-General Surachate Hakpal said 59 Rohingya were abandoned on the island on Friday night without any food or drink until they were helped by the Navy.
He said upon interrogation, police learned that 178 Rohingya from Bangladesh and Myanmar had paid 5,000 Malaysian ringgit each to a Malaysian broker, who promised them jobs in Malaysia.
Surachate said the first group of 119 had been delivered to Malaysia, but were arrested. After the captain of the second boat learned of the arrests, he decided to abandon the 59-strong group on Koh Dong, pretending they had reached Malaysia, Surachate said.