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ALT Trafficking-Prominent Case Report PDF Print E-mail
Sunday, 04 December 2011 12:43

Currently, the network of anti-trafficking agencies and organizations in Thailand has no formal system to be alerted or obtain updates on labor trafficking cases. The HRDF staff monitors observe court hearings, meet with victims and witnesses of human trafficking, and obtain updates from the Department of Special Investigation (DSI), the police, prosecutors, judges, government officials, and victim advocates. The ALT unit produces a monthly update and analysis report based on the aforementioned activities, which includes recommendations for efficient enforcement. This report is distributed to government agencies in Thailand, embassies, and domestic and international anti-trafficking organizations.

The report will be delivered monthly to the counter-trafficking partners with details and up-to-date information on significant trafficking cases. The ALT unit aims to increase the likelihood of effective prosecution of violators and ensure such cases do not fade from public awareness. This report contains 10 prominent human trafficking cases.

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Case One – Prapasnavee Fishing Boats Case


Service Providers: the Human Rights and Development Foundation (HRDF), the Anti Human Trafficking Division (AHTD), Region 5

Year: 2006


In July 2003, the Prapasnavee fishing boats numbers 1 through 6, together with 128 crew members aboard the ships, left Thailand from the Samutsakorn port on a scheduled journey of 30 months to the Indonesian territorial waters near Wanam Island. After two years, when the fishing concession granted by the Indonesian government expired, the Prapasnavee fishing boats were due to leave the Indonesian coast. After months of negotiations with the Indonesian government the owners of the boats were not able to renew the fishing permits. During the long months of negotiations the fishing boats had to wait in the sea and the crew had to survive on leftover food supplies. Gradually, the crew members fell ill and two of them ultimately died. Their bodies were buried on Wanam Island and 15 days after their death all six boats started their journey back to Thailand. 

On the 3rd of June 2006, after a short stop to refuel the fishing boats, they resumed their journey back to Thailand. Additional crew members fell ill during the voyage and three people died per day, on average. The captain ordered the crew members to dump the dead bodies in the ocean.

Factually, the deaths were the result of failure on the part of the employer to provide adequate food supplies and medicines to the crew members during the months the Prapasnavee boats negotiated the renewal of the fishing concession with the Indonesian government. Adding to the peril, during the period of negotiations the Prapasnavee crew members were instructed to hide from the Indonesian authorities in the sea to avoid arrest and detention for unlawful trespassing.  

The Prapasnavee fishing boats returned to Samutsakorn province in Thailand on the 1st of July 2006 -- almost three years after they had first left the province. In total, 39 crew members passed away during the journey and one crew member died in the hospital upon their return to Thailand. Upon arrival to Samutsakorn province, all the crew survivors were admitted to the hospital in extremely frail health.  Moreover, the employers promised to pay the crew members any outstanding wages upon returning to Thailand, however, they failed to do so when the time came around.  

The Prosecution

i) Labor case

On the 1st of March 2007, the 66 surviving crew members (16 Thai nationals, 2 Laotians, and 44 individuals of Mon ethnicity from Burma), with the aid of the Human Rights and Development Foundation (HRDF) and the Lawyer Council of Thailand (LCT) filed a case at the Central Labor Court in Samutsakorn province against the owners of the Prapasnavee fishing boats. In their suit, the crew members demanded 15,894,610 THB in compensation for  unpaid wages, bonus payment from the fishing catch that was promised by the employers, wages for working during holidays, severance payment with respect to termination of employment and additional damage compensations owed under labor protection laws. The trial continued for one year and on the 17th ofSeptember, 2008, the Central Labor Court of Samutsakorn delivered a judgment. The Court ordered the five owners of the Prapasnavee fishing boats to pay a sum of 3,831,000 THB to 38 of the crew members for unpaid wages and compensation for unjust termination of employment and breach of labor protection laws. Compensation was to be paid jointly with interest at a 15% rate per annum; from the date the lawsuit was filed to the date all monies were paid. Additionally, the Court ordered the employers begin to make payments within 30 days. Soon after the ruling, the employers appealed to the Supreme Court using the following legal clause as a basis:

“The 10th Ministerial Regulation (B.E. 2541) issued under Labor Protection Act B.E. 2541, stipulates that a fishing vessel outside Thai territorial waters for more than one year period is not protected by the labor protection law.”

The appeal of the labor case is still pending with the Supreme Court.

ii) Criminal case

The case is still under the investigation of the Anti Human Trafficking Division (AHTD), Region 5.

iii) Civil case

Lawyers filed a case against the owners of Prapasnavee fishing boats with the Central Labor Court in Samutsakorn province. The lawsuit covered due wages and compensations and is still pending procedures.


Case Two - Ranyapaew FactoriesCase


Service Providers: Public Prosecutors / The Fight Against Exploitation Foundation (FACE)

Year: 2006


On the 14th of September 2006, several government agencies and civil society organizations --  including the Immigration Police, the Samut Sakorn Provincial Police Region, the Samut Sakorn Provincial Department of Labour Protection and Welfare, the Samut Sakorn Provincial Office of Employment, the Ban Kredtrakarn Protection and Occupational Development Center for Women and Girls, the BATWC Provincial Shelter for Children and their families, the Center for the Protection of Children’s Rights Foundation (CPCR), the Fight Against Exploitation Foundation (FACE), the Foundation for Children Development (FCD) and the Labour Rights Promotion Network Foundation (LPN) -- rescued 500 Burmese migrant workers (including men, women and children)from the Ranyapaew shrimp processing factory in Mahachai, Samutsakorn Province. This was classified as one of the largest labor trafficking cases in Thailand pre-Anti Trafficking Act B.E. 2551 which came into force in 2008. Although the case received a great deal of publicity initially, the Thai media failed to provide the public with relevant updates pertaining to this important incident and subsequent litigation. The trafficked persons had been confined, threatened and forced to work 18 hours per day without any breaks or holidays. They worked in appalling conditions, with armed guards monitoring their moves and a high security fence restricting mobility outside the premises. The workers were also physically abused, their work permits were confiscated and their monthly salaries were reduced to nothing by the employer who claimed expenditures for broker fees, work permit fees, food and accommodation for the employees. The migrants received 300 - 500 THB ($8 - $13.50 USD) per month. After the rescue the trafficked persons were put under the protection of the Kredtrakarn Shelter. The Fight Against Exploitation Foundation (FACE) provided legal assistant to the victims, including a lawyer to represent them in the human trafficking case along with a public prosecutor.

The Prosecution

i) Labor case

In November 2007 the case was settled with the Company paying 3,600,020 THB in total compensation to the victims for unpaid wages, overtime work and other damages incurred as stipulated by the Labor Protection Act. This was a successful labor suit and the migrant workers were able to receive compensation for unpaid wages.

ii) Criminal case

On the 9th of December 2010, the court sentenced three of the defendants, mother, father and son, all legal owners of the factories. They were each sentences to 20 years in prison, the maximum penalty for this category of crime under the Thai criminal code. The charges were brought forth under criminal code sections 310, 312 bis, 312 ter (for detention/imprisonment of people and forcing them into conditions of slavery).  The criminal case has been with the Court of Appeals since the 28th June 2011.


Case Three - Anoma case


Service Providers: Samutsakorn Provincial Public Prosecutor / The Center for the

                               Protection of Children’s Rights Foundation (CPCR)

Year: 2008


In March 2008, 206 Burmese migrants -- including 48 women and 25 children -- were rescued from them Anoma Shrimp processing factory in Samutsakhon Province. The migrants had been at the factory since October 2003, forced to work from 2:00 am – 9:00 pm daily, with only a short break for a meal and no days off. Confined to the premises, the migrants were forced to work for the minimum wage without any days off. The workers received 50 - 100 THB per week in compensation after alleged broker fees and housing deductions taken by the employer. Additionally, 200 THB were deducted for supposed coverage “in case of illness.” The plant had one main entrance with other doors secured with chains and locks, and no windows, with 20 – 30 migrants crammed together inside tiny rooms without ventilation. The high security measures, including a high fence with 6 CCTV surrounding the factory, allowed little possibility for escape.

The rescuing process included a multi-disciplinary action team of governmental and non-governmental organizations each with established roles. Contributors included the Immigration Police, the Samut Sakorn Provincial Police Region, the Samut Sakorn Provincial Department of Labour Protection and Welfare, the Samut Sakorn Provincial Office of Employment, the Ban Kredtrakarn Protection and Occupational Development Center for Women and Girls, the Phumvej Reception Home for Boys, the BATWC Provincial Shelter for Children and their families, the Center for the Protection of Children’s Rights Foundation (CPCR), the Fight Against Exploitation Foundation (FACE), the Foundation for Children Development (FCD) and the Labour Rights Promotion Network Foundation (LPN).

After their rescue, the migrants were separated into two groups: legal and illegal entry. Despite all 206 migrants (even those without a valid work permit) being identified as victims of human trafficking given their dire situation at the workplace -- forced labor and no freedom of mobility – only those with legal entry, 54 persons, were recognized by the Thai law.

The Center for the Protection of Children’s Rights Foundation (CPCR) offered legal assistance to the trafficked persons and provided a lawyer to represent the victims in the human trafficking case together with a public prosecutor.

The Prosecution

i) Labor case

The 54 trafficked persons joined as plaintiffs to file a labor suit with the Central Labor Court against their employer. The litigation was ultimately successful; the factory owner was ordered to pay 500,000 THB in compensation to the migrant workers.

ii) Criminal case

The police completed their investigation in August 2008 and submitted the case to the Office of the Attorney-General (OAG), filing 20 civil and criminal charges against the factory owner and the manager. The police also tried to collect additional evidences that would lead them to take action to the Burmese procurers. The OAG submitted the case to the Criminal Court in September 2008 and a preliminary court hearing was conducted in October 2008. Court hearings resumed again in February 2009 and in November 2009 the Criminal Court ruled the two defendants were guilty of the trafficking charge. One of the defendants pleaded guilty to some of the charges and was sentenced to five years in prison and forced to pay a one million THB fine (approximately $30,000 USD). The second defendant, who denied all charges, received a sentence of eight years in prison and a two million THB fine ($60,000 USD).

In March 2011, the Appeal Court confirmed the ruling of the Criminal Court and added an additional offense for slavery under Section 312 of the Criminal Code. Section 312 states that “Whoever, for gaining illegal benefit, receives, sells, procures, fures, or traffics a person … shall be punished with imprisonment not exceeding seven years or a fine not exceeding fourteen thousand Baht. ”


Case Four - Maesot, Labor Trafficking Case


Service provider: HRDF Labor Law Clinic (LLC)

Year: 2010


HRDF-ALT lawyers provided legal counsel to a 17-year-old female victim of trafficking.  Her case came to light through the Labor Law Clinic (LLC) in Maesot. The victim worked as a housemaid in a grocery shop owned by an ethnic Karen, Thai national, in Tambon Tha Sai Luad, Mae Sot Province. She earned only 500 THB per month (~$16 USD) for three years. In August 2010, she transferred to another workplace with a promised salary of 1,000 THB per month. However, after three months of working for the new employer, she did not receive any payment. The employer insisted she would receive her wages if she agreed to work as a masseuse. Ultimately, she was sent to a massage parlor against her will. In February 2011, the ALT project brought the case to the Tak Provincial Office of Social Development and Human Security (TPSDHS). A multi-disciplinary team  meeting involving civil society organizations and government agencies was organized by the TPSDHS to discuss the case. The meeting participants concluded that the case met the stipulations to be legally considered a human trafficking case. The ALT unit provided case details to the TPSDHS to proceed with the prosecution. The case was later transferred to the Anti Human Trafficking Division (AHTD) under the Royal Thai Police, Ministry of Interior.

The Prosecution

i) Labor case

The victim possessed no identification card or work permit, therefore, the only evidence attesting to the victim’s labor came from Mrs. Miae, the employer. The HRDR-ALT lawyers referred the case to the TPSDHS using the multi-disciplinary team mechanisms to provide legal assistance.

ii) Criminal case

The criminal case is still under investigation by the AHTD, Region 2. In March 2011, an interrogation of the victim was conducted by the AHTD team (including a social worker, a psychologist, police officers and the public prosecutor). The HRDF-ALT unit was present during the interrogation and provided the police with additional information pertaining to the Burmese broker. As of November, 2011, an arrest warrant has yet to be issued; the courts claim they are waiting for the victim’s testimony and would like her to provide them with a sketch of the offender’s picture.

iii) Civil case

In accordance with Section 35 of the Anti Trafficking in Persons Act of 2008, the victim has the right to compensation for damages through the Public Prosecutor who shall submit the compensation request to the Criminal Court.

iv) Others

On the 6th of June, 2011, the LLC assisted the victim with lodging a complaint with the Rights and Liberties Protection Department in Maesot. She requested compensation under the Damages for the Injured Person and Compensation and Expense for the Accused in Criminal Case Act of 2001. In June 2011, the Rights and Liberties Protection Department in Maesot requested the AHTD, Region 2, provide legal documentation to include it in the law suit requesting compensation. No further developments have occurred since.

Victim Protection

In January 2011 the multi-disciplinary agreed it would be best to host the victim in a safe place. She is residing in a shelter hosted by the civil society organization where she is also provided with adequate health care.  


Case Five – The Ukrainian Engineer Case


Service Provider: Department of Special Investigation (DSI)

Year: 2011


A 57-year-oldUkrainian engineer (“the engineer”) reported he was forced to work at the Navanakorn Gas Co. in Pathum Thani province without payment for 14 years. On the 11th of January, 2011, he was rescued from the Thai-owned oxygen equipment factory located at the Rangsit industrial complex in Pathum Thani Province. The case came to light after a Burmese worker left the factory in November 2010 and sent a letter to the engineer’s family in the Ukraine. As a result, the family members contacted Interpol and the local police in Ukraine who consequently contacted the Ukrainian Ministry of Interior Affairs and eventually, the Ukrainian Embassy in Bangkok.

The engineer worked for a Ukrainian company supplying services to the Navanakorn Gas Thailand. The engineer was a specialist in oxygen equipment installation and travelled to Thailand in April 2006 to render his services to the Thai company on behalf of the Ukranian employer. During his work in Thailand, in July 1996, a minor accident in the plant caused the engineer to suffer some burns.  As a result, he was unable to return home immediately and remained in Thailand to recover. During his recovery period, the engineer was verbally offered employment by the Thai factory owner; he was promised a 30,000 THB monthly salary, a company car, and extra compensation for various other expenses including medical coverage.

A second factory was subsequently opened by the  Navanakorn Gas Co.and the engineer was expected to maintain the oxygen systems in both the old and the new plant.  The engineer claimed he only received a full month’s salary for the first three months of employment. By the end of 1998, two years had passed and the engineer began to demand outstanding wages from the employer (~600,000 THB). This same year the employer purportedly stopped paying the engineer and confiscated his passport. For the next 12 years, the employer would only pay the engineer from ''time to time,'' sometimes as little as 1,000 THB per week to buy essentials such as food and nothing more. The engineer was under 24-hour surveillance by a guard, without possession of his passport and only allowed to leave the premises to buy food from a stall near the factory. He claimed that the owner threatened to kill him and sometimes fired a handgun into the air to intimidate him.  The engineer was psychologically traumatized and too afraid to attempt an escape; he was certain the guard would act on the owner's orders and the engineer’s expertise was considered crucial to the running of the factory and thus not let him go freely.

The Prosecution

i) Labor case

The engineer’s original offer was for 30,000 THB ($1,000 USD) per month plus coverage of other expenses. He requested full compensation for the 14 years he was kept in confinement, about five million THB ($162,000 USD). However, under Thai Labor Law and Civil Code he was only eligible for up to two years' pay. The factory owner claimed the engineer's wage was only 8,000 THB ($267) a month and offered 150,000 THB ($4,850 USD) in compensation to settle the case. The labor case was ultimately settled with 300,000 THB ($10,000 USD) paid by the owner of the Navanakorn Gas Coto the engineer. Negotiations took place at the Labor Protection and Welfare Department’s office in Pathum Thani.

ii) The Criminal case

The Pathum Thani Police charged the owner of the Navanakorn Gas (2005) Co. factory with hiring a foreign worker illegally and with violation of the labor law. On the 27th of January 2011, the Department of Special Investigation (DSI) asserted they had located and interviewed the Burmese man who worked at the same factory and had helped the Ukrainian engineer escape from the factory by alerting his family. The Burmese man reportedly told the DSI officials that the Ukrainian engineer was “not intimidated, threatened or confined while working at the factory.” The DSI did not conduct further investigations and there is currently no report of a criminal court process.

iii) The Civil case

There was no civil case.

Victim Protection

The Ukrainian engineer was under protection of the Ukrainian Embassy during the legal proceedings and before being repatriated.


Case Six – The 8 Bumese Fishermen in Samaesarn Case


Case Number: . 1632/2554

Service Provider: Pathum Thani Shelter

Year: 2011


In January 2011, eight Burmese fishermen were rescued by the Anti Human Trafficking Division (AHTD), Region 2, at Samaesarn in Chonburi Province. They were confined in a small cabin by the shore, constructed with wood and zinc-based materials. The cabin was separated inside into miniature rooms, each no larger than 3x4 square meters in size. There were no windows, no restroom and no electricity in the premises. The rooms were locked and the locks covered by corrosion.  The workers were physically abused, forced to work on a fishing boat and confined in the cabin when not working. The fishermen had been working on the boat for five months without any payment.

After the rescue operation, the AHTD charged the Burmese broker for conspiring to commit human trafficking, for confining as well as other illegal offenses. In April 2011, the public prosecutor filed a human trafficking charge with the Criminal Court.

The Prosecution

i) Criminal case

The hearing was held in the Criminal Court. The case falls under the jurisdiction of the Special Public Prosecutor’s Office, Region 9. The trafficking case was submitted to the Public Prosecutor’s office on the 11th of April 2011 and a lawyer from the Thai Allied Committee with Desegregated Burma Foundation (TACDB) submitted a request to the Court to become a joint plaintiff on the case. On the 7th of June 2011, the ALT-HDRF lawyers attended the Court hearing for a pre-trial testimony. The next hearing is scheduled for the 6th to 8th of December, 2011.

ii) Civil case

In accordance with Section 35 of the Anti Trafficking in Persons Act of 2008, victims of human-trafficking have the right to compensation for damages suffered. The Public Prosecutor shall submit this compensation request to the Criminal Court

Victim Protection

The trafficked persons are under the protection of the Pathum Thani Shelter. Currently, 6 trafficked persons remain in Thailand and two of the victims are scheduled to be repatriated to Burma this year (2011).


Case Seven – The Vietnamese Surrogate Mothers Case


Service Provider: Alliance Anti Trafic (AAT)

Year: 2011


On the 23rd of February 2011, the Thai Immigration Police in collaboration with the Ministry of Social Development and Human Security (MSDHS) and several other humanitarian and non-governmental organizations, rescued 15 Vietnamese surrogate mothers. The women were held captive in three houses in the outskirts of Bangkok. Most of the victims were between 19 to 26 years of age. They reported they were deceived with promises of good jobs in Bangkok. However, their passports were taken immediately upon their arrival to Thailand. The captors, the victims reported, would take the sperm of “famous people” and then implant the sperm into the surrogate mothers. The babies would then be sold to foreigners. The police released an arrest warrant for the leaders of this operation; a Taiwanese gang.

The case was discussed during a meeting with the Medical Council's subpanel to determine if any doctors were involved.On the 25th and 28th of February 2011, the HRDF-ALT participated in various meetings with the Public Health Ministry which included the Department of Special Investigation (DSI), the Immigration Bureau, the Embassy of Vietnam, the Embassy of Taiwan, relevant hospitals andthe Alliance Anti Trafic (AAT) unit. The Immigration Police filed a case against the Taiwanese gang and prosecution of hospitals or doctors involved is due to follow. Despite the grave circumstances, the Ministry did not grant abortion permission to the two Vietnamese women while in Thailand. Furthermore, during the meeting, the law enforcement officers were ordered by the minister to “speed up the proceedings” and conduct an advance testimony process of the victims within seven days to repatriate them to Vietnam. The minister wanted to “avoid complex legal issues” that might arise if the children were born in Thailand; including nationality disputes and financial support for the newborns.

The Prosecution

i) Labor Case

The surrogate mothers were not entitled to wages because they were “illegally” employed.

ii) Criminal case

On the 12th of March 2011, in response to a request made by the Alliance Anti Trafic (AAT), HRDF-ALT provided legal advice to the victim and preparation for an interrogation scheduled with the interpreter from the Embassy of Vietnam. The “advance testimony” was held in the Nonthaburi Provincial Court.

On the 19th of May 2011, the Special Public Prosecutor’s Office, Region 12, filed a case against the leader of the Taiwanese gang and several members (five people) for the following offenses: accomplice to the trafficking of person/s;  accomplice to detain or confine other person/s; accomplice to hiring undocumented migrant workers; the offence of being an alien worker without proper documentation.     

From the 20th to the 21st of October 2011, the Minburi Provicial Court scheduled a hearing for three witnesses on behalf of the plaintiff. The witnesses consisted of Pol.Lt.Col. Tavip Changtor (inspector at the Immigration Bureau) and two doctors as expert witnesses. However, the hearing proceeded with only one witness (Pol.Lt.Col. Tavip Changtor) because the other expert witnesses were on duty.  

The hearing was held at the Minburi Provicial Court which falls under the jurisdiction of the Special Public Prosecutor Office, Region 12. The ethics subcommittee within the Medical Council has still not reached a consensus on which doctors were involved. The case is still under current investigation at the Immigration Bureau.

iii) Civil Case

In accordance with Section 35 of the Anti Trafficking in Persons Act of 2008, the victims have the right to compensation for damages. The Public Prosecutor is responsible for submitting the compensation requests to the Criminal Court.

Victim Protection

On the 30th of May 2011, the Ministry of Social Development and Human Security (MSDHS), the Alliance of Anti Trafic (AAT), in collaboration with the Embassy of Vietnam, repatriated 10 Vietnamese women, including their babies, back to Vietnam.

Remarks:the Cabinet passed a draft legislation to protect children born under medical reproductive technology. The law is still pending for consideration by the House and until it passes and is put into effect, cases pertaining to surrogate pregnancies will continue to fall under the Medical Council's jurisdiction.  Current regulations stipulate that surrogate pregnancies are only allowed when “a couple owns the eggs and sperm and when the woman carrying the baby is not paid for the pregnancy” and is not related to one of the parents.


Case Eight — The Din Daeng Garment Factory Case


Case No. : อส. 22/2554

Service Provider: Pathumthani Shelter, Special Public Prosecutor Office, Region 4

Year: 2011


In April 2011, the Anti Human Trafficking Division (AHTD) Region 1 raided a garment factory in the Din Daeng area of Bangkokrescuing more than 60 Burmese migrants. The migrants were kept in prison-like conditions; secluded in a four-story building, not allowed to leave the premises or make phone calls. They were forced to work; from 8am to midnight, 16 hours of work daily and locked in a room after work. They received 200 THB ($7 USD) per month. The owners of the garment factory were a Chinese couple. They reported the workers were kept locked-up because they had previously hired Burmese workers to work “legally” but these had run away. The factory owners also reported the wages were kept low because they were deducting 15,000THB from each worker; amount that was owed to them by the migrant workers for making them “eligible to work.”  The AHTD charged the Chinese couple with labor violence and human trafficking offenses.

The Prosecution

i) Labor Case

In May 2011, the Labor Inspector ordered to the factory owners to pay past-due wages and other damages to 15 persons identified as trafficked. The total amount due was 780,000 THB ($26,000 USD).

ii) Criminal Case

The court hearings were held in the Criminal Court and fell under the jurisdiction of the Public Prosecutor of the Special Public Prosecutor Office, Region 4. On the 18th of May 2011, the AHTD requested the victims give their testimony and sketch the picture of another alleged offender the AHTD thought might be related to the offenses. In June 2011, the Public Prosecutor filed a case against the Chinese couple along with three Burmese brokers on the following offenses: entering, leaving, and residing in the Kingdom of Thailand without authorization; working in the Kingdom of Thailand without authorization; trafficking persons; providing a place for undocumented migrants; employing undocumented migrants by the commission of a person; and confining other persons by the commission of a person. In July 2011, the pre-trial testimony was held in the Criminal Court.

The next hearing at the Criminal Court is scheduled for 2012.

iii) Civil Case

In accordance with Section 35, the Anti Trafficking in Persons Act of 2008, the victims have the right to compensation for damages suffered. The Public Prosecutor is responsible for submitting a request for compensation with the Criminal Court.

Victim Protection

Of the 60 Burmese migrants rescued, only 15 persons were identified as victims of human trafficking. Nine women were sent to the Kredtrakarn Shelter for protection and six men were sent to the Pathumthani Shelter. The male victims, still under the protection of the Pathumthani Shelter, have also found jobs and are currently working outside the shelter.


Case Nine -- Songkhla Murder case


Service Provider: The Lawyer Council of Thailand

Year 2011


The Mirror Foundation filed a case pertaining to a former victim of labor-trafficking, who had received 90,000 THB ($3,000 USD) in compensation from the Anti Trafficking in Person Fund.  The victim returned to work in a fishing boat in May 2011, and murdered the boat captain. The HRDF-ALT was requested to provide legal advice on this matter. On the 26th of May 2011, the HRDF-ALT lawyers along with a case monitor went on a fact-finding mission. The team met with the former trafficked victim at the Songkhla Provincial Prison for an interview. According the reports from the meeting, the former trafficked person killed the boat captain because the captain denied him his hernia medicine and rudely scolded him. The accused also claimed he was forced to work and was physically abused by the captain.

The Prosecution

i) Criminal case

On the 9th of June 2011, the ALT-HRDF lawyers conducted a second fact-finding mission at the Songkhla Provincial Prison. The lawyers found that the accused was not a victim of labor-trafficking in this instance because he willingly worked on the fishing boat. He also worked as a “chief of fishermen” and thus had the authority to distribute the work and command other fishermen. There was no evidence found to show that he was forced to work, detained, or exploited. On the 10th of June 2011, the ALT-HRDF lawyers attended the scheduled Songkla Provicial Court hearing. However, the hearing was later postponed to the 9th of August 2011 because witnesses had not yet received their summon notices. The hearing was postponed again to the 31st of October 2011 because the lawyer of the accused had failed to send his summon notices to pertinent witnesses.


The accused was previously a victim of labor trafficking and had received from government agencies for food, shelter, medical treatment, education as well as physical and mental rehabilitation, and vocational training. He had also received money in compensation for damages suffered from the Anti Trafficking in Person Fund (2010). But the victim returned to the fishing boat where he had been rescued from only a year after. He worked under the worst conditions and then committed a murder. The relevant government agencies should re-think the current assistance process for victims of human and labor trafficking and consider alternatives for future cases. The HRDF-ALT lawyers agreed to help with the case to try to prove the accused committed the murder because he was seriously mistreated. As a result of this possible mitigation, the HRDF-ALT will continue to monitor this case as part of the efficiency of the post-trafficked person protection process.


Case Ten – Suphanburi Case


Service Provider: The Thai Allied Committee with Desegregated Burma Foundation (TACDB)

Year: 2011


On the 14th of June 2011, the police rescued 52 undocumented Burmese workers in Suphanburi province.  Subsequently, two Burmese nationals and four Thai nationals were arrested for illegally detaining the victims for ransom. The rescue operation was carried out by the Anti-Human Trafficking Division (AHTD) police following a complaint by a Burmese woman who filed the case with the Thai Allied Committee with Desegregated Burma Foundation (TACDB). She reported her daughter and her son-in-law had entered Thailand with the help of a Burmese broker who turned out to be one of the gang members. Instead of safely crossing the border, upon entering Thailand the couple was kidnapped and detained for 36,000 THB in ransom. The mother of the woman kidnapped had already transferred 15,000 THB to the gang's bank account but they refused to free the couple and instead demanded more money. An interrogation of the Burmese broker led the police to the two houses in the Samchuk district in Suphanburi Province where 50 other undocumented Burmese nationals were kept in detention. The TACBD also contacted the Ministry of Social Development and Human Security’s (MSDHS) Hot Line 1300 requesting that a multi-disciplinary team assist with the process of identifying the victims. After a four-hour screening process, the MSDHS officials concluded that the 52 workers, including 13 children, did not qualify as “trafficked persons” and charged them with illegal entry.


The Prosecution

i) Labor Case

There was no prosecution for the labor case; the migrants were only kept in confinement and not forced to work.

ii) Criminal Case

The 52 migrants were charged with illegal entry and sent to a detention center -- including 13 children. On July 8th 2011, the pre-trial testimony proceedings were held at the Criminal Court, conducted by the Public Prosecutor of Special Public Prosecutor Office, Region 7.

Legal Opinion

i)   According to anti-human trafficking law and regulations, the victim identification process should be conducted by a multi-disciplinary team consisting of the Ministry of Social Development and Human Security, the Ministry of Labor, the Office of the Attorney General, the Royal Thai Police and related agencies. Further, in case of necessity for the benefit of fact clarification in relation to the trafficking of persons and the security protection of a person, where there is a reasonable ground to believe that s/he is a trafficked person, an official may temporarily take such person into his/her custody (section 29 under the Anti Trafficking in Persons Act, 2008). During the first victim identification process the officials did not apply this law.

ii)There were 13 children put in detention, violating their rights in accordance with the Convention on the Rights of the Child signed by Thailand in 1989. The children were victims and under age, as such they should be protected and provided adequate shelter during the legal proceedings, not be incarcerated. In accordance with Article 12 (2) of the Convention on the Rights of the Child 1989:

“… the child shall in particular be provided the opportunity to be heard in any judicial and administrative proceedings affecting the child, either directly, or through a representative or an appropriate body, in a manner consistent with the procedural rules of national law.”

And Article 40 (4) of the Thai Constitutional B.E. 2550:

“ …a witness in a case has the right to be treated properly during the judicial process which includes the right not to testify against oneself.”

As well as Article 40 (6) of the Thai Constitutional B.E. 2550:

“Children, youths, women, and disabled or handicapped persons have the right to proper protection during the judicial process…”


The 13 children should be released from the detention center immediately. Related government agencies (i.e. the Office of Social Development and Human Security, the Royal Thai Police, the Department of Rights and Liberties Protection) shall provide treatment to protect the rights of the children; this includes no detention.


Victims Protection

The victim screening process of the 52 migrant workers which took place on the 14th of June 2011, took only four-hours -- starting at 5 pm and concluding at 9 pm. The screening was conducted solely by the MSDHS officials and two Burmese translators. When the HRDF-ALT lawyers arrived at the scene, the 52 Burmese nationals were already being sent to the AHTD in Bangkok for prosecution. On the 15th of June 2011, the HRDF-ALT, the TACDB and the Lawyer Council of Thailand submitted petitions to the AHTD and the Bureau of Anti Trafficking in Women and Children (BATWC) asking them to reconsider the case and conduct the victim identification process once again, as well as ensure the rights of the women and children in the group were being adequately protected. On the 22nd of June 2011, the multi-disciplinary team conducted the second victim identification process. However, the team concluded once again, that the 52 Burmese migrants (including 13 children in the group) were “not trafficked persons.” All 52 persons were charged for illegal entry into Thailand and sent to the Immigration Bureau’s Detention Center. On July 6th 2011, the HRDF-ALT unit, the TACDB and the Lawyers Council of Thailand submitted a petition letter to the Immigration Bureau requesting to visit the 52 Burmese detainees. The team of lawyers reviewed Thai court procedures with the Burmese migrant workers, as well as the pre-trial testimony proceedings.



About the Anti Labor Trafficking Project (ALT)

The Anti Labor Trafficking Project (ALT) was established in May 2009 under the Human Rights and Development Foundation. The ALT works to combat human trafficking particularly in labor exploitation. The project aims to promote a better understanding of national and local government officials responsible for implementation, investigation and prosecution of cases falling under the Anti-Trafficking Act, to maintain public attention on significant trafficking cases in Thailand, to provide expert legal representation to victims, and to build understanding as well as provide awareness of the relevant laws to high-risk migrant worker populations and the migrant community. This includes migrant advocacy organizations, anti-trafficking activists and at-risk migrant workers. The ALT is supported by the American Center for International Labor Solidarity (Solidarity Center).


Human Rights and Development Foundation (HRDF)           Anti Labor Trafficking Project

87 Suthisarnwinichai Rd., Samsennok, Huaykwang,                 Contact person

Bangkok 10320, Thailand                                                       Ms. Siwanoot Soitong

Telephone: +66(0)2-2776882                                                  ALT Project Coordinator

Fax: +66(0)2-2776887 ext. 108                                               Mobile: +66 (0) 82-9772702

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Human Trafficking Cases in the Media



In Thai shrimp industry, child labor and rights abuses persist


SAMUT SAKHON, Thailand — It is 7:30 p.m., and an excited chatter fills the room as Nampeung, 11, and her friends get their work checked before clearing their desks and heading home.

But this is no scene from the end of a school day.

Nampeung is from Myanmar and an ethnic Mon girl who has been working in a seafood factory in central Thailand for nearly three years.

The desks are the metal tables where she spends six days a week shelling shrimp, and her work is measured by the kilogram.

Of the 200 people working in a barnlike factory during an unannounced visit by Reuters, nearly half appeared to be in their early teens or younger - clear evidence of child labor in an industry worth $2 billion a year in exports.

Half of Thailand's exported shrimp goes to the United States, where it ends up on the shelves of retail giants like Wal-Mart Stores and Costco, according to Poj Aramwattananont, president of the Thai Frozen Foods Association. Japan and Europe each account for 20 percent.

Even though she can only dream of going to school, Nampeung is one of the lucky ones. She makes as much as 300 baht, or $9, a day - more than the province's minimum wage - and sees nothing wrong with children her age working.

"The old people are so slow," she said with a broad smile, sitting demurely on the floor of the concrete hut next to the factory, which she shares with her mother, father and three siblings.

Other factories in the coastal province of Samut Sakhon, 50 kilometers, or 30 miles, west of Bangkok, where 40 percent of all shrimp are processed, do not have such a contented work force. A police raid on a factory called Ranya Paew in September revealed conditions that were little short of medieval.

Around 800 men, women and children from Myanmar were imprisoned behind walls 5 meters, or 16 feet, high and topped with razor wire in a compound patrolled by armed guards.

The rescued workers told human rights monitors that they had to work 18 hours or more a day and were paid 400 baht a month, out of which they had to buy food - mainly rancid pork - from the factory's owner.

Those who asked for a break had a metal rod shoved up their nostrils. Three women who asked to leave were paraded in front of the other workers, stripped naked and had their heads shaved.

The Labor Rights Promotion Network, a nongovernmental organization that estimates there are 200,000 Burmese migrant workers in Samut Sakhon - of whom only 70,000 are legally registered - says that the Ranya Paew case is the worst it has seen.

But this, the group says, is just the tip of a human trafficking iceberg of factories fed by people-smuggling rings and labor brokers that have the complicity, if not active involvement, of government officials and the provincial police.

"For many migrants, work in Samut Sakhon is the chance for a better life, but for too many it leads to abuse," said Sompong Srakaew, president of the nongovernment organization.

"Unscrupulous employers and brokers conspire to ensure migrant workers remain vulnerable to exploitation. This is only possible with the complicity of elements within the law enforcement authorities."

Wal-Mart and Costco said that none of their shrimp had ever come from Ranya Paew and that strict ethical guidelines for suppliers, as well as audits of processing units in Thailand, ensured that they complied with food standards and labor regulations.

One shipment from Ranya Paew a few years ago, however, did end up in the United States, according to a Western diplomat who has followed the case closely.

Poj, the president of the Thai Frozen Foods Association, denied that children or trafficked people worked in the industry, saying factories were monitored carefully.

"There are no more illegal workers in the Thai food industry, because the government registers all the workers properly," he said. "We never use child labor."

But even Thailand's biggest agro-industrial company, Charoen Pokphand Foods, which produces its own shrimp from pond to package, is not untouched by allegations of trafficked labor.

The company sells a range of shrimp products to the United States and Europe, including the "Thai Torpedo" and "Bangkok Firecracker."

According to the Labor Rights Promotion Network, when the police and immigration officials raided a Charoen Pokphand factory in Samut Sakhon on April 5 and fired shots into the air, more than 100 Burmese migrants in the compound tried to escape by swimming a canal.

Six workers who could not swim are thought to have drowned, the Labor Rights Promotion Network said, and the police rounded up and deported 90 others to Myanmar for being illegal migrants.

Narong Kruakrai, the general manager of the plant, described the raid as a "regular visit" by the immigration police and said the factory never hired illegal workers.

The labor rights group said the workers appeared to have been employed by a third-party broker.

With smaller shrimp companies, overseas buyers have an even harder time conducting their own background checks, as much of the processing is outsourced to small operators.

As a result, foreign companies rely more on the Thai Labor Ministry, which is responsible for ensuring that factories do not use illegal or child workers. But the ministry is short on staff, the Western diplomat said.

"The Thai Ministry of Labor lacks the proper resources to conduct rigorous inspections of these factories," he said.

Despite the discovery of abuses at Ranya Paew, the police in Samut Sakhon have allowed the plant to remain open. In the meantime, about 200 Burmese men were deported as illegal immigrants, and more than 60 women and children are in a Bangkok center for victims of trafficking.



The reality of enslavement


It is inaccurate to say that slavery no longer exists in Thailand.

According to history, slavery in Thailand has been in existence since the Jenla Period (1847) when slaves were traded legally. This form of slavery was abolished in 1905 by King Rama V. But for human rights lawyer Siriwan Vongkietpaisan, slavery is still alive and well in modern-day Thailand.

"Slavery still exists in almost every corner of Bangkok ... where households and factories still see the inhumane treatment of maids and factory workers who are living and working in slave-like conditions with no legal protection," she said.

Slavery back in the ancient times evokes images of chains and shackles and flogging, while modern slavery comes in the form of inhumane treatment and hidden cruelty, where the rights of workers and domestic maids are taken away from them.

Article 312 in the Criminal Code defines enslaving as putting an individual into a slave-like condition for trading and commercial purposes.

The 14-year-old housemaid who Siriwan sets to help out and win her lawsuit is a classic example. She was kept in the house and was not allowed to go outside or contact family and friends back home. The girl worked seven days a week, from 4am to midnight, and received just two meals a day - old, hard rice from the refrigerator with leftover dishes or chilli paste. Her salary was 2,000 baht a month, but she never received any money.

"Interestingly, ancient slavery laws did not give masters unlimited rights to do whatever they pleased. The old laws also contained a penalty clause for employers and masters who overly and brutally mistreated their slaves. The slavery law used during the reign of King Rama I - some 200 years ago - required that all masters had to instruct their slaves before handing out punishment," she related.

"The master must treat their slaves with empathy. The workload must be reasonable, not according to the master's unbound demands. A penalty must be executed moderately to discourage killing or harm. It is a crime if a slave dies from any physical penalty issued by a master and he/she will be penalised for excessive and irrational actions according to this slavery law," she added.

In the modern world, slavery became even more complex. "I have observed unbelievable cruelty and torture being done in the slave labour cases over the years. It is as if employers do not think that their employees are human. Employers impose absolute rights over the bodies of their workers. These enslaved labourers do not have the right to make any decisions, travel or do anything they like," she said.

Many defendants are not sadistic or psychopaths as some people would imagine. "You must expect these employers as having deranged personalities ... some of them are sane and rational. They just do not understand how it is wrong to penalise their employees excessively. They simply believe they can do whatever they want with them. And they are surprised that there are anti-slavery laws to make things right."



Human rights heroine


Siriwan Vongkietpaisa has dedicated her life to fighting for and giving a voice to the underprivileged who have been inhumanely treated

Some lawyers may want to win a case for their clients for money or for fame. Not Siriwan Vongkietpaisa, a human rights lawyer, who sets out to make sure that every victory for her clients makes society a better place to live in.

Her recent battle, which she won for her client, was the case of a 14-year-old housemaid who was kept in slave-like conditions where she was brutally beaten by her employer - a well-to-do Bangkok housewife - and suffered severe injuries.

In 2007 the Criminal Court sentenced the employer - Vipaporn Songmeesap - to 12-and-a-half years of imprisonment. Vipaporn appealed, however, the Court of Appeal upheld the ruling. Now the employer will fight her case in the Supreme Court, which will take at least another few years before a final verdict is made.

If the Supreme Court upholds the previous verdicts, the sentencing will set a legal precedent and hopefully become the standard for future anti-slavery cases in Thailand.

The provision of the anti-slavery law, which was incorporated into the Criminal Code since 1954, has never been used before. When Siriwan filed the anti-slavery case with the police, she was told straight to her face that slavery no longer exists. "We have no slavery in Thailand. It was abolished by King Rama V over a century ago," she quoted as one police officer saying.

It is a standard practise for the court to rely on previous verdicts for their cases, she pointed out. Since the anti-slavery law has never been invoked, it makes the police and the public believe the problem no longer exists.

And Siriwan wants to change that.

"The development of law enforcement is the outcome of the lawyers' ability to use all legal provisions possible to present their cases," she said, adding that any good law is useless if it is not used.

"No matter how modern our legal system may be, justice is still illusive without proper enforcement," said Siriwan.

Even before taking this case and representing the underage housemaid, Siriwan had already been in charge of several well-known legal cases in Thailand, including the notorious land grabbing in Surat Thani province, the Thai berry-pickers who were exploited in Sweden, the GMO papaya scandal, and the coal-fired power plants in Bo Nok, Prachuap Khiri Khan province. All of which dealt with the infringement of the rights of the poor and the needy.

With her less common legal pursuits that depart from her peers' in the mainstream law practising world, many might think that Siriwa's iron goodwill comes from an unusual background. Although Siriwan insisted that she had a very simple childhood.

A native of Buri Ram province, Siriwan earned her bachelor's degree in law fromRamkhamhaeng University and worked in the legal department of several corporations for a few years before she decided to quit. It is common for law graduates to work in the commercial sector to ensure financial security, or to continue their studies to become judges, a more secure and prestigious career path.

But one day Siriwan decided to follow her heart and use her knowledge and skills to help the less fortunate. So she quit her high-paying job and thus a new legal life was born.

After taking part in some legal cases for social causes, which got her connected with a whole new network of socially engaged lawyers, she co-founded a law office in 1997 to help those suffering from legal injustices. But Siriwan fully understands what is practical in terms of work. Her mission will not last long if all her legal services are free. Therefore, Siriwan divides her legal work into two parts: straight-forward business and pro bono legal work.

Siriwan kicked off her new career as a lawyer with a good cause by becoming a legal representative for several social organisations including the Foundation for Women, the Foundation for Child Development, and the Lawyers Council of Thailand. Soon after she offered legal consultation to Greenpeace, the Anti-Trafficking Coordination Unit Northern Thailand (Trafcord) and the Fight Against Child Exploitation (Face) as well. In 2005, she founded the SR Law office, which has a solid positioning to create concrete and fair law enforcement.

Her work philosophy: never become desk-bound in an office. All lawyers, she believes, should work and sweat on a case by visiting the actual sites and examine the local residents' problems in their local areas to gather the best information on the ground, as this process is critical in winning any case, she said.

In her representation in the case of the GMO Papaya for Greenpeace, for example, Siriwan did not only visit the real testing fields but she also talked to all sides of the stakeholders involved. In addition, she studied the related laws and educated herself in plant quarantine and scientific studies.

Her devotion and thoroughness in her work often surprises the court when she brings in specialists in from a wide variety of fields, such as economic and environmental experts, to give their highly credible testimonies in court.

"We worked together as a team and we believe that in-depth information will help our case in court," she said.

And that may perhaps explain why she wins almost every case she handles, and has cemented her career reputation as a top professional collaborator and information manager.

"My work brings me closer to collaborate with different fields of expertise. Meeting different people has also helped widen my perspectives in so many ways. I have met many good people while working as a lawyer and my life has been super worthy ever since I chose this path."

Another notable lawsuit Siriwan was involved in was the commercial palm plantations and land rights case in Surat Thani province. Again, she won the case, thanks to her thorough research on the land conflicts in the area coupled with her masterful knowledge on property laws.

"At that time the local villagers did not know how to fight against outside capitalists who were taking over their agricultural land. Winning or losing in court for these exploited people was very much dependant on the performance of their representative, including the lawyer."

Challenging the powerful and almighty has its risks, though. Facing harassment from her clients' opposition is part of her work, she said.

But how does she balance her goodwill social injustice life mission with her regular business? And does that put any financial strain on her business success? According to Siriwan, there are many organisations who need her legal services to help the disadvantaged. Though the money she makes from these legal practices may not be much, the satisfaction she gets for conquering wrongful crimes is reward enough. Besides, she didn't work alone to win a many number of her landmark cases.

In 2006, Ashoka, a global association that supports social entrepreneurs internationally, selected SR Law to be one of its fellows in recognition of its efforts in tackling human trafficking.

Siriwan's main personal challenge, she said, is to nurture young lawyers so that they might one day follow the same path as her.

For the future law students, she urged them to take part in extra-curricular activities that address social problems and inequality. And the happiness achieved from being able to help others will encourage them to pursue the same path in the future, she said.

With cooperation from both development and law organisations, Siriwan also conducts legal training classes for young lawyers who want to work for the good of the public.

"But attending classes and working on a few case studies alone isn't enough to build up the necessary skills needed for socially-engaged lawyers and carry out their work successfully. So I also organise a three-month training programme that requires the students to participate in field trips in conflict areas," she said.

She smiled when asked what it is like to devote 100 percent of her life to work. "When you love what you are doing, it is not work," she said. "Doing the kind of work I do requires a good heart first and foremost. I am happy with what I am doing because I get to work with all my heart."



Press Release


Human Rights and Development Foundation

Thailand: Central Labor Court (Samutsakorn) order ‘death-ship’ owner to pay over 3 millions Baht compensation to 38 seafarers within 30 days.

On 17 September 2008, the Central Labour Court of Samutsakorn, a province known for its fishery industry, ordered the owners of Prapasnavee Ship to pay 3,831,000 Baht compensation to 38 crew members within 30 days because of breach of labour protection law

On 17th and 19th July 2003, Prapasnavee Fishing Boats No, 1-6 together with 128 crew members on board left Thailand from Samutsakorn, a suburb of Bangkok, on a scheduled journey of 30 months to Indonesian territorial waters near Wanam Island. After 2 years when the fishing concession granted by the Indonesian government expired, Prapasnavee 1-6 had to leave the Indonesian coast. They could enter the Indonesian harbor and Indonesian land only after the fishing concession was renewed. However even after months of negotiation with the Indonesian government the owners of the boats could not renew the fishing concession.

While the negotiations over the renewal of the fishing concession were going on, the fishing boats had to wait out in the sea for several months. The crew members could not enter Indonesian land to buy food, medicines or to see the doctor. The crew had to live on left over food stock and had to eat fish without any flavor or seasoning. Gradually the crew members started falling sick. 2 of them died and their bodies were buried on Wanam Island. Fifteen days after the death of the 2 persons, all 6 boats started their journey back to Thailand. On the way back the boats had to stop for 10 days to fill up on fuel. During that time more crew members became ill with the same symptoms. Their bodies were beginning to swell and their eyes had become yellow; they were suffering from asthma, they could not eat and were drastically loosing their physical strength.

After filling up on fuel, on 3rd June 2006, the fishing boats resumed their journey to Thailand. During the journey more crew members became sick and on an average 3 people died each day. In response the Captain ordered the rest of the crew members to dump the dead bodies into the ocean, though the body of a dead crew member should be kept in the freezer in order to bring it back to the deceased’s family in Thailand.

From the facts it was apparent that the deaths were caused because the employers did not provide adequate food and medicines to the crew for several months during which the Prapasnavee boats were waiting for renewal of concession from the Indonesian government. The boats also had to continuously hide from the Indonesian authorities since otherwise they were liable to be arrested. The crew members were clearly abandoned by their employers.

Prapasnavee fishing boars 1-6 arrived at Samutsakorn province in Thailand on 1st July 2006, almost three years after they had left the province. 39 crew members had died during the journey and 1 crew member died in the hospital at Samutsakorn. All surviving crew members on arriving in Thailand had to be admitted to the hospital because of their poor health. The employers were supposed to pay the balance of the wages after the shipping boats returned to Thailand. Once the fishing boats returned the employers scheduled a date for the payment of the wages. However the employers did not keep their promise and did not pay the balance wages due to the crew members.

On 4th July 2006, the crew members submitted a petition to Labor Protection Network (LPN). LPN requested the Lawyers Council of Thailand (LCT) and the Human Rights and Development Foundation (HRDF) to undertake a fact finding mission and provide the necessary legal assistance to the crew members. With legal assistance from HRDF and LCT, the crew members submitted a complaint to the Social Welfare and Labor Protection Office in Samutsakorn. However, the complaint was dismissed on the ground that as per the 10th Ministerial Regulation (B.E. 2541) issued under Labor Protection Act B.E. 2541, a fishing vessel which had been outside Thai territorial waters for more than 1 year period was not protected by the labor protection law.

On 1st March 2007, 62 surviving crew members consisting of 16 Thais, 2 from Laos, 44 persons of Mon ethnicity from Burma, with the aid of lawyers from HRDF and LCT filed a case against the owners of Prapasnavee fishing boats at the Central Labor Court in Samutsakorn. In their suit the surviving crew members claimed a total amount of 15,894,610 Baht that included unpaid wages, special payment against the money earned from the fishing catch as promised by the employers, wages for working on holidays, severance payment with respect to termination of employment and other damage compensations payable under labor protection law. During the course of the trial, the Court dismissed lawsuit of 7 plaintiffs because the employers claimed that the plaintiffs were not their employees and the 7 plaintiffs could not prove their status as employees. Another 17 plaintiffs revoked their petition after they agreed on a settlement with the employers.

The trial lasted a period of one year and on 17th September 2008, the Central Labor Court (Samutsakorn) delivered its judgment. The Court ordered the 5 employers and owners of Prapasnavee 1-6, Mr. Suthiphong Phongsathaporn and others, to pay a sum of 3,831,000 Baht to the 38 crew members against unpaid wages and compensation as result of unfair termination of employment and breach of labor protection law. The Court also ordered that such compensation should be paid together with interest at the rate of 15 % per annum since the time of submission of lawsuit till the time all money was paid. The Court also ordered the employers to make payment within 30 days.

At the same time, there has been no progress with respect to the criminal investigation started by Samutsakorn police, although arrest warrants against 4 suspects named Chailek, Chaiyai, Peak and Sak (the Captains of the boat) has been issued since August 2007.


Din Daeng Garment Factory

Burmese allege slave labour


The Bangkok Post

Police yesterday helped more than 60 Burmese workers from a garment factory in Bangkok whose owners detained them and forced them to work 16 hours a day for paltry wages. Their raid came after one worker escaped from the factory operated by Chinese national Da Long Wu, 50, and his wife Namee Sae Lee, 26 - at Soi Tap Suwan on Asok-Din Daeng road.

The victim, whose name was not revealed, lodged allegations of unfair treatment, saying staff at the crowded factory had to work indoors from 8am until midnight, with doors and windows locked firmly to prevent them leaving.Police said the complainant told them he was paid 200 baht a month instead of the 7,000 baht he had been promised. The officers arrested Mr Da and Ms Namee on suspicion of breaching the Labour Act.

The suspects denied the allegation. Ms Namee said the workers had to work at a reduced salary initially to repay recruitment debts of 15,000 baht each. However, she admitted to detaining the workers inside the factory to prevent their escape. Previously, she told police, her factory followed legal requirements to register foreign workers, but many of them left without notice when they found themselves new jobs.

In another development, the Stateless Watch for Research and Development Institute of Thailand (SWIT) said it had been contacted by Saman Sataweesook, who was born to Lao refugees in Ubon Ratchathani's Khong Chiam district, after he was arrested on April 16 on charges of illegal entry to Thailand. The institute's legal expert, Daruni Paisalpanitkul, argued police should not have arrested Mr Saman because he had the right to live in the country. Mr Saman, currently detained by the Immigration Bureau, had been previously arrested late last year by Klong Toey police on the same charge, but was later released after the institute clarified his status to the officers


Din Daeng Garment Factory

60 Burmese freed in factory raid


The Nation

Police rescued 60 Burmese workers yesterday from a clothing factory in Bangkok's Din Daeng area and arrested a Chinese couple who allegedly ran the factory. The suspects - identified as Darong Wu, 50, and his wife Namee Li, 26 - were detained on suspicion of human-trafficking and labour-law violations. Police claim a worker had tipped them off. The worker said he was lured from Burma to work at the factory, adding that they were forced to work from 8am to midnight and then locked in. He said that he was only paid a monthly wage of Bt 6,000 - less than he was promised. Li said they kept the workers locked up because they had hired Burmese workers legally before and they had run away. She said the wages were low because they were deducting the Bt15,000 that each worker owed them for becoming eligible for work.


Ukrainian Engineer Case

Ukrainian says he was held captive for 14 years


The Bangkok Post

A Ukrainian engineer who says he was held captive and forced to work at a Bangkok factory for 14 years will meet Department of Special Investigation officers tomorrow to detail his allegations.

Anatoliy Vdovychenko, 57, was rescued from the Thai-owned oxygen equipment factory located at the Rangsit industrial complex on Jan 11 after Ukrainian consular staff confronted the owner and threatened to call police.

Ukrainian consul Constantine Ivaschenko said they became involved in the case after a Burmese worker who had left the factory sent a letter to the engineer's family in Ukraine last November telling them of the engineer's fate. The letter also included three telephone contact numbers.

Family members contacted Interpol and local police who then contacted the Ukrainian Ministry of Interior Affairs which informed the embassy in Bangkok. Consular staff phoned the numbers provided in the letter and found the Burmese man who told them where the factory was located.

''I thought I would be there forever,'' said Mr Vdovychenko, who is slender in appearance and seems emotionally unsettled by his ordeal. ''I thought I would die and nobody would know. My mind was closed and I was depressed.

''I stayed for many years in a small dirty room without pay. I worked hard for nothing, They didn't pay my salary and they forced me to work.

''They took my documents and I had to do everything free of charge. The owner didn't need a welder, painter, electrician or plumber. I had to do everything.''

His daughter Natalia, 34, who works for a corporate law firm in Odessa, said in a telephone interview they had been searching for their father for 15 years but the task was difficult. ''At first we had no chance to do anything as we knew he was in Thailand, but at the time there was no Ukrainian embassy there.'' She said it was a ''strange feeling'' talking to her father after 15 years. ''Of course we are waiting for him to come back, but it's a long time and things have changed. We are already adults now and everything has changed.''

Mr Ivaschenko said Mr Vdovychenko had been isolated for so long that the first time he met the engineer he had almost forgotten his mother tongue.

Mr Vdovychenko, who is in the care of the Ukrainian embassy, has been granted special permission by the Immigration Department to stay in Thailand until the end of next month. His passport expired in 2006.

In an affidavit submitted at Klong Luan police station, Mr Vdovychenko says he arrived in April 1996 as a specialist in oxygen equipment installation for Combitex Corporation Ltd which was the agent for a Ukrainian supplier, Kisenmash.

After suffering burns in an accident in July 1996 and being unable to return home, he was verbally offered a work agreement by a Thai factory owner which included a 30,000 baht monthly salary, plus a car and other expenses, including medical expenses.

Mr Vdovychenko said that without his consent, the owner planned to build a new oxygen factory and he would have to maintain two oxygen systems. He said he only received a full salary for the first three months. By the end of 1998 he made a demand on his employer for 600,000 baht in outstanding pay.

After that, the owner stopped paying him and confiscated his passport when Mr Vdovychenko returned from a trip to Malaysia in 1998.

Over the next 12 years, he says he was only paid from ''time to time'', sometimes receiving 1,000 baht a week to buy food and nothing more.

''During a long period I did not have my passport and I did not have money to even buy food,'' he says in the affidavit.

Mr Vdovychenko told the Bangkok Post Sunday that he was under 24-hour guard and only allowed to leave the premises to buy food from a stall near the factory.

He said on occasions the owner threatened to kill him and sometimes fired a handgun in the air to intimidate him. He said he was too afraid to attempt an escape as the guard would act on the owner's orders as he was considered crucial to the running of the factory.

''I was alone, I had no friends and no passport. If I left, who would believe me?'' he said.

Mr Ivaschenko said that while Mr Vdovychenko was not ''chained like a dog'', ''he's not Rambo, he's not Superman, he's a specialist engineer''.

Mr Vdovychenko said he survived with the help of Burmese migrant workers at the factory who brought him food and clothing.

He had no television or radio, and the one Russian-language book he had was torn up by the factory owner. However, other workers were also recruited to keep him under surveillance.

Paisith Sungkahapong, who heads the DSI's Foreign Affairs Division, said he would meet Mr Vdovychenko tomorrow to determine whether or not to proceed with a criminal case against the factory owner. ''I've never heard of a case like this. Fourteen years is a very long time,'' said Pol Lt Col Paisith.

Mr Vdovychenko says he remains fearful of the factory owner but wants to be paid the money owing to him.

Ukrainian Engineer Case

Ukrainian rejects offer to settle: Consul questions DSI claims over Burmese witness in factory prisoner case


The Bangkok Post

A Ukrainian engineer who claims he was forced to work for 14 years at a Pathum Thani factory for virtually no pay has rejected an offer of 150,000 baht to settle the case.

Anatoliy Vdovychenko, 57, said he met the factory owner at the Labour Protection Welfare Department's Pathum Thani office on Friday, accompanied by a Ukrainian consul staff member.

Police at Pathum Thani's Khlong Luang have charged the owner of Navanakorn Gas (2005) Co factory with hiring a foreign worker illegally and violating the labour law by not paying him wages.

Mr Vdovychenko _ who is asking for full compensation of about five million baht _ said labour officials told him he was eligible only for up to two years' pay. He says his original contract was for 30,000 baht a month plus expenses. The factory owner, who says the engineer's wage was 8,000 baht a month, offered 150,000 baht on the spot to settle the case.

''He agreed to pay only 150,000 baht so I didn't accept it,'' Mr Vdovychenko said.

He was released from the factory on Jan 11 after consular staff confronted the owner and threatened to call the police.

They acted after a Burmese worker at the factory sent a letter to Mr Vdovychenko's family in the Ukraine telling them of the engineer's plight.

The Department of Special Investigation (DSI) on Thursday said they had located and interviewed the Burmese man at his Samut Prakan home. They reportedly said the worker, who has left the factory, said Mr Vdovychenko was not intimidated, threatened or confined while working at the factory.

However, the Bangkok Post Sunday interviewed the man, Ngwe Win, on three occasions last week during which he said he stood by the allegations that Mr Vdovychenko was held against his will and forced to work at the factory. ''They [the DSI officers] asked me many questions, but they didn't write it all down. They write little,'' said Ngwe Win.

When asked directly if he had said that the engineer was not threatened and forced to work he replied: ''No, I don't talk like this.''

He said Mr Vdovychenko was allowed to leave the factory for short periods and sometimes he loaned him his bicycle to go to the local shops to buy food.

Ngwe Win returned to Burma on Friday, saying he was afraid that his personal details would be passed on to the factory owner. ''I know he's [Mr Vdovychenko] afraid, I'm afraid too,'' he said.

''I told them [the DSI] already I'm afraid, they said, 'Don't worry, don't be afraid.'''

Ukrainian consul Constantine Ivaschenko said he would submit Ngwe Win's letter to the DSI next week and ask to see a copy of the Burmese worker's statement, which was signed by Ngwe Win and made out in English.

''This letter does not correlate with this testimony. Either the letter is bad or this testimony is wrong,'' he said.

''If he sent the letter before, why should he tell [them] another thing?'' Mr Ivaschenko said if they did not receive a satisfactory answer, the consul would consider pursuing the case in the courts.

Vietnamese Surrogate Mothers Case

Vietnamese surrogate mothers to return home


The Bangkok Post

The Vietnamese women hired as surrogate mothers in Thailand will be repatriated this week and their unborn babies will eventually be taken care of by the Vietnamese government.

Public Health Minister Jurin Laksanavisit said the authorities were preparing to take legal action against a Taiwanese company on charges of human trafficking and illegal detention.

The questioning of the Vietnamese women was completed yesterday and their evidence would help in the investigation, he said.

Mr Jurin joined Thai officials from many agencies at a meeting yesterday to discuss how to proceed after a raid last week on the alleged illegal surrogacy firm Baby 101, run by a Taiwanese man in Bangkok, and the arrest of 15 Vietnamese women.

Present at the meeting were staff from the Public Health Ministry, the Social Development and Human Security Ministry, the Foreign Affairs Ministry, the Vietnamese embassy in Thailand, the Immigration Bureau, the Department of Special Investigation, the Medical Council and the Royal Thai College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists.

The meeting decided legal action would be taken against the medical premises and doctors involved in the artificial insemination of the women.

The legal action would be based on the 1982 Medical Profession Act and the 1998 Medical Premises Act.

Mr Jurin did not name any specific medical premises but said the Medical Council would discuss the issue and transfer the matter to its ethics subcommittee on March 10.

The minister said the pregnant Vietnamese women who had originally intended to seek abortions had changed their minds and decided to continue with their pregnancies.

"All the women will return to Vietnam this week .. The babies to be born to the Vietnamese surrogate mothers will be under the care of the Vietnamese government," he said.

A Department of Special Investigation representative told the meeting the Taiwanese operator had been arrested in Taiwan. He entered Thailand in 2008 and resumed business here in 2009.

Accounts from the Vietnamese women indicate the Taiwanese firm had offices in Thailand and Cambodia and insemination took place in Thailand.

Meanwhile, representatives from a group fighting human trafficking yesterday urged authorities to block the company's website - - as it remained accessible.

The Vietnamese government blocked the company's site but it was still accessible in Thailand, the Anti-human Trafficking Network said.

The website provides a registration form for clients who want to use the company's surrogacy service as well as applications for women who want to become a surrogate mother.

The DSI said last week it would ask the Information and Communication Technology Ministry to block the website because advertising for surrogate mothers through the internet was against the law.



The Anti Human Trafficking Division

The Anti Human Trafficking Division (AHTD) is a police task force specialized in suppressing human trafficking. The AHTD consists of 9 regions as follows:

Region 1 consists of 9 provinces in the Central part of Thailand: Chainaj, Nonthaburi, Pathumthani,Ayutthaya, Lopburi, Samutprakarn, Saraburi, Singburi, Angthong

Region 2 consists of 8 provinces in the Eastern part of Thailand: Chantaburi, Chacheongsao, Chonburi, Trad, Nakornayok, Pracheenburi, Rayong, Srakaew

Region 3 consists of 8 provinces in the upper Northeastern part of Thailand: Chaiyabhum, Nakornrachasrima, Burirum, Yasothorn, Srisaket, Surin, Aumnajjaroen, Ubonratchathani

Region 4 consists of 11 provinces in the lower Northestern part of Thailand:Kalasin, Khonkaen, Nakhonpanom, Mahasarakarm, Mukdahard, Soi-Ed, Loei, Sakonnakorn, Nongkai, Nongbualumphu, Udonthani

Region 5 consists of 8 provinces in the Northern part of Thailand: Chiangrai, Chiangmai, Nan, Payao, Prae, Maehongson. Lumpang, Lumpoon

Region 6 consists of 9 provinces in the upper Central part of Thailand: Kumpangpetch, Tak, Nakhonsawan, Pichit. Phitsanulok, Petchaboon. Sukhothai, Utharadit, Uthaithani

Region 7 consists of 8 provinces in the Western part of Thailand: Kanchanaburi, Nakhonpathom, Prachubkitikhan, Petchburi, Rachaburi, Samutsongkram, Samutsakorn, Suphanburi

Region 8 consists of 7 provinces in the upper Southern part of Thailand: Krabi, Chumporn, Nakornsrithammarat, Phang-nga, Phuket, Ranong. Suratthani

Region 9 consists of 4 provinces in the lower Southern part of Thailand: Songkhla, Satun, Trang, Phattralung

The Deep-South Police Operation Task Force consists of 3 provinces: Yala, Pattani, Narathiwat


 Relevant laws

The Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act B.E. 2551 (2008)

Alien Work Act B.E. 2551 (2008)

Anti-Money Laundering Act No. 2 (2008)

Measures in Prevention and Suppression of Trafficking in Women and Children Act BE 2540 (1997)

Child Protection Act BE 2546 (2003)

The Criminal Procedure Code Amendment Act (No. 20) BE 2542 (1999)

Immigration Act BE 2522 (1979)

Money Laundering Control Act BE 2542 (1999)

Labor Protection Act 1998

Constitution of Thailand 1998

Prevention and Suppression of Prostitution Act BE 2539 (1996)
[English Word Document]
[Thai PDF]

Penal Code Amendment Act (No. 14) BE 2540 (1997)

Witness Protection Act BE 2546 (2003)


Source: UNIAP



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