Thai authorities have broken what they believe to be a major transnational human trafficking operation responsible for the trafficking of hundreds of Ugandan women into Thailand and on to other parts of Asean.
Police Lieutenant General (Pol Lt. Gen.) Jaruvat Vaisaya, head of the Thailand Anti Trafficking in Persons Task Force (TATIP) yesterday (May 15) told AEC News Today that in the last several weeks arrest warrants for 30 Ugandan human traffickers had been issued, with 15 Ugandan human trafficking victims being freed from their captors.
Additionally, three human traffickers had already been tried before a new ‘fast-track’ court system established to ensure a speedy prosecution of human trafficking cases, reducing the time victims are required to remain to give evidence.
So far seven Uganda human trafficking victims had been returned home, with two other cases in the pre-trial stage, while 30 more Ugandan women are currently at the immigration department International Detention Center (IDC) in Bangkok being processed and assisting police in their inquiries.
Largest Human Trafficking Take-Down by TATIP
Describing the operation as the biggest transnational crime take-down in the agencies short existence, Pol Lt. Gen. Vaisaya said Ugandan women currently represent a large number of people assisting authorities with their inquiries. “We currently have about ten more cases involving Ugandan women in the investigation stage”, he said.
As for claims last week by those with knowledge of the human trafficking industry that a woman said to be the ‘John Gotti’* of trafficking Ugandan women into Thailand, identified by the nickname of ‘Sadaa’ was among those currently detained, Pol Lt. Gen. Vaisaya said a number of people were still be questioned, including the woman pictured in our exclusive story last week.
One problem Thai authorities are facing is fear of retribution against relatives at home, and “voodoo”. Pol Lt. Gen. Vaisaya said ‘black magic’ is one of the methods used by the Ugandan human traffickers to force their victims to comply.
“We try various methods to get the women to talk to us. NGO NightLight visits the victims and talks to them to try and get them to cooperate, and helps them in other ways, but it is very difficult to get them to speak. If they cooperate we can finish our investigation and prosecutions faster, meaning they can go home sooner”, he said.
Debt Bondage Awaits Ugandans in Thailand
Describing a similar scenario to outlined in Authorities Mum on Capture of ‘Grandmother’ of Ugandan Human Trafficking in Thailand, Pol Lt. Gen. Vaisaya said the victims had told similar stories of being promised good paying jobs working in supermarkets and other segments of the Thailand services sector, and given money prior to leaving Uganda.
“Once they get to Thailand they are told there is no job, the money they were given at home and any other money they have is taken off them, and they are told they have a debt to pay; sometimes this is up to US$40,000 and all they have done is flown from Uganda to Thailand. How can they ever pay that?, he asks rhetorically?
Established at the end of December 2017 as part of the Thailand government’s commitment to eradicating human trafficking in the country, the TATIP comprises 75 individuals drawn from related agencies including the Royal Thai Police (RTP), Thailand Tourist Police (TTP), the Department of Immigration (DOI), and several others.
Pol Lt. Gen. Vaisaya said that under a new “victim-centric” approach members of the TATIP task force immediately begin investigating to see if foreigners caught in raids conducted searching for those illegally in the country are involved in human trafficking as either a victim or a trafficker.
Vowing to make life unpleasant for human traffickers, Pol Lt. Gen. Vaisaya said, “I’ve been ordered to shut-down human trafficking into and through Thailand. The Prime Minister has made this a national agenda item and we intend to make sure the goal is achieved. There will be no more using Thailand for the terrible crime of trafficking people”, he said.
Feature video John Le Fevre
*John Gotti was one of the most powerful and dangerous crime bosses in the United States
- Draft guidelines for police to tackle human trafficking ready (The Nation)
- Royal police ramp up fight against human trafficking and child porn (The Nation)
- Regional border security discussed as transnational crime keeps pace with trade flow (The Nation)
- Authorities Mum on Capture of ‘Grandmother’ of Ugandan Human Trafficking in Thailand (AEC News Today)
He has spent extensive periods of time working in Africa and throughout Southeast Asia.
He has covered major world events including the 1991 pillage riots in Zaire, the 1994 Rwanda genocide, the 1999 East Timor independence unrest, the 2004 Asian tsunami, and the 2009, 2010 and 2014 Bangkok political protests.
In 1995 he was a Walkley Award finalist, the highest awards in Australian journalism, for his coverage of the 1995 Zaire (now Democratic Republic of Congo) Ebola outbreak.
Prior to AEC News Today he was the deputy editor and Thailand and Greater Mekong Sub-region editor for The Establishment Post.