Sat, 08 Apr 2000

Fighting organized crime in Thailand

Four Laotian women rescued last September from a brothel in the southern (Thai) province of Satun were sent home after having received rehabilitation and vocational training provided by the Anti-Trafficking in Women and Children in Mekong Region Project.

Funded by the United Nations Development Program, the project aims to tackle human trafficking in Southeast Asia by providing the exploited with rehabilitation and vocational training.

It also seeks to conduct cross-border investigations into rackets behind the flesh trade.

The four Laotian women should count themselves exceptionally lucky. They might still be languishing in a brothel at the hands of their slave masters. Or they might still be locked up in an immigration detention center on charges of illegal entry.

Thanks to the help of the police and public welfare staff in response to a complaint by a mother of one of the four women, and the UNDP, the four victims were rescued, properly rehabilitated and eventually repatriated.

At a recent seminar on transnational crime held in Pattaya, Thailand was identified as a haven for organized crime syndicates engaged in such illegal activities as narcotics trafficking, prostitution, human trafficking, money laundering and credit-card fraud.

To cope with the increase in these ventures, a national committee will be set up made up of representatives from agencies such as the National Security Council, the Foreign Ministry, the National Police Office and the Tourism Authority.

The cooperation and coordination of neighboring countries will also be sought.

With adequate legal protection already in place, the only problem now is implementation of the law. This rests squarely, although not exclusively, on the shoulders of the police.

Should they take concrete steps they will prove that they are indeed an effective law enforcement mechanism upon which the vast majority of the people can place their trust.

-- The Bangkok Post