Thailand stems human trafficking into Brunei

Thailand stems human trafficking into Brunei
Armed police sailing towards a trafficking camp in Satun, southern Thailand.

BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN - Thailand will focus on increasing preventive measures to halt the trafficking of Thai nationals into Brunei, said the country's outgoing ambassador.

In an interview with The Brunei Times, Apichart Phetcharatana expressed concern over the rising number of trafficking cases he has seen during his three-year tenure as ambassador.

He disclosed that a memorandum of understanding (MoU) on human trafficking between Thailand and Brunei is "70 to 80 per cent complete", aiming to facilitate better information sharing between law enforcement agencies of the two countries.

"It will focus more on preventive measures and will be very useful in terms of raising awareness and sharing information through law enforcement - this is very crucial. The more people know about the law and regulations, the less and less cases will be coming here," he said.

Apichart explained there have been several cases of women trafficked to Brunei for sex work, as well as other victims of forced labour.

"Some victims were working in homes or companies and were exploited by employers. The income was not according to the agreement and they worked longer hours and with less attention to their welfare."

Once the victims are repatriated to Thailand, they would again be interviewed by authorities to retrieve intelligence on trafficking syndicates.

He added that the Royal Brunei Police Force (RBPF) has been very active in trying to promote awareness of the issue, and has approached the embassy to co-organise a briefing for the Thai community. Similar events were also organised for the Philippines and Indonesian communities recently.

According to police statistics, the RBPF investigated 183 cases of suspected human trafficking in 2013.

However, since 2004 only three cases have been prosecuted in court owing to lack of strong evidence and victims being uncooperative in providing testimony.

Several criteria must be proved to obtain a conviction - such as the use of threats, deception, abuse of power and recruitment or transport of an individual for the purpose of exploitation.

However, the Attorney General's Chambers said it is currently reviewing the Trafficking and Smuggling of Persons Order as part of efforts to improve laws combating trafficking in persons.

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