By Puangchompoo Prasert
THE government has rescued more than 3,000 human-trafficking victims during the past four years, Prime Minister General Prayut Chan-o-cha said yesterday while announcing the success of his government’s efforts on Anti-Human Trafficking Day 2018.
He said the victims were rescued in more than 1,000 cases after authorities arrested suspected traffickers. “The courts of justice have already delivered verdicts in some of the cases,” Prayut added. He said among the convicts were 11 high-level state officials, with the harshest penalty being an 18-year jail term.
Prayut said authorities have also helped human-trafficking victims, regardless of their nationality.
“The government has provided assistance and protection to 1,695 human-trafficking victims during the past four years,” he added.
Social Development and Human Security Minister General Anantaporn Kanjanarat said that in 2017, 360 victims were sent to protection centres.
“Of them, 132 were Thais, 119 Myanmar nationals, 21 Laotians, 22 Cambodians, nine Indonesians, 51 Vietnamese, three Malaysians, and three Ugandans,” he said.
At these centres, the victims received food, accommodation, clothes, vocational training, and job opportunities.
“So, up to 287 former victims could work. They worked either at their centres or outside, like at farms or construction sites,” Anantaporn said.The government has now encouraged non-governmental organisations to register themselves as operators of such protection facilities, which could operate alongside state-run facilities.
Anantaporn said last year the Fund for Human-Trafficking Prevention and Suppression also offered financial help or compensation to 760 victims.
If the victims are not Thais, they can get help from interpreters. They are also offered the option of staying in Thailand for up to two years after legal proceedings in their cases end.
“Presently, we have also been in the process of improving draft guidelines on how to protect and handle child human-trafficking victims,” Anantaporn said.
He and Prayut were speaking at an event attended by more than 500 participants, including ambassadors and envoys from various countries.
“We have made progress in all fronts of anti-human trafficking operations,” he said, adding many organisations, including the private sector, had joined in the fight against human trafficking.
He pointed out that despite serious efforts by many, human trafficking remained a worrying problem today. “The average age of victims has been getting lower and human-trafficking has become complicated and takes varied forms,” Prayut said. The prime minister urged all sides to join forces to support those who were vulnerable, such as children and youth.