Human trafficking in Thailand's fishing industry has worsened with the number of victims soaring three times higher, the Mirror Foundation revealed yesterday.
Up to 138 human trafficking cases were reported to the foundation last year - three times more than the number of cases reported in 2008, Ekkalak Lumchumkhae, head of the foundation's antihuman trafficking centre said at a press conference yesterday.
Since the fishing industry suffers from a severe shortage of workers - 10,000 as last reported by the Federation of Thai Industries - human traffickers it as an opportunity to make money by deceiving locals and aliens from border countries to work in extremely harsh conditions.
Moreover, Ekkalak said the shortage of workers was likely to get worse.
The centre blacklisted four seaports with severe problem of human trafficking: Songkhla, Chon Buri, Samut Sakhon and Samut Prakan.
Human trafficking in other sectors, such as prostitution and begging, remained unchanged over 2008 and 2009, the centre's report said.
"People are accustomed to seeing child beggars who are mostly Cambodians on pedestrian bridges and prostitutes waiting to pick up customers in public areas," Ekkalak said. "I don't want people to ignore this, but to notify the authorities."
Sompong Srakaew, director of Labour Rights Promotion Network (LPN), said the number of beggars in Bangkok had dropped because the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration managed to stop them from coming to the capital. However, they begged in Pattaya, Nakhon Ratchasima and Songkhla instead.
AntiTrafficking Coordination Unit Northern Thailand manager Duan Wongsa said locals had not discussed the demand or the attitude of people who use prostitutes, and also asked if it was possible to campaign against the use of young girls.
Ekkalak pointed out that some local politicians and government officials had a hand in human trafficking, but the police were not brave enough to charge them under the AntiTrafficking in Persons Act 2008. "The act is not enforced properly," Ekkalak said.
All of them called on related state agencies to come up with aggressive plans to deal with the problem.
"The Social Development and Human Security Ministry is providing training to improve its personnel's capacity to operate antihuman trafficking jobs, but in practice they do not work well enough. We want related ministries to come up with aggressive plans," Duan said.
-The Nation/Asia News Network