BANGKOK, THAILAND—Two suspected traffickers, who are accused of recruiting and exploiting a Burmese family of 12, are now in jail.
According to the victims, the accused and an associate lured them from their home country of Myanmar with promises of good, well-paying jobs. Once in Thailand, the family realized it was a trap. The brokers had lied about the work they would be doing, and illegal “debts” that they owed the traffickers for documentation, fees and transportation across the border had mounted. Some members of the family were forced to work grueling hours for a fraction of the pay their traffickers promised, while others had their lives threatened if they did not do what the traffickers ordered.
Deceived and Threatened
Traffickers often use false promises, threats and illegal debt to trap vulnerable laborers into work. Finding themselves hundreds of miles from home, the men were deceived to work on fishing boats in the Gulf of Thailand under conditions they had not agreed to. Their children were forced to work as domestic maids, and one young woman was even forced into marriage at the hands of the traffickers.
After a complex investigation that stretched over many months, Thailand’s Department of Special Investigation located these traffickers and made the arrests—a result of collaborative effort between the Thai government and organizations like the Human Rights and Development Foundation (HRDF), the Migrant Worker Rights Network and IJM.
Survivors Are Safe After Officials Restrain Suspects
The abuse that the two alleged traffickers subjected these men, women and children to was horrendous. But, thanks to last month’s arrests, the exploitation of these vulnerable workers is over. The survivors are safe in protective custody of the government.
Following the news of the arrests, Sansana Kaewtuptim, Deputy Director of the Bureau of Anti-Trafficking Crime in Thailand’s Department of Special Investigation, shared, “Sometimes we see, as we did with this case, that it’s not just one migrant worker who is targeted – but also their whole family. We might see the brokers control the money the family should receive for items, possessions, and hold them in debt bondage…[this is] human trafficking.”
The collaboration between HRDF and IJM that proved vital for this successful arrest was part of a larger effort by IJM to partner with local organizations around the world that seek justice for the poor. IJM will continue to work with our partners in Thailand to dismantle trafficking rings, like this one, that are responsible for exploiting and abusing workers in Thailand’s vast fishing industry.
IJM Bangkok is funded in part by grants from the United States Department of State and the Walmart Foundation. The opinions, findings and conclusions stated herein are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect those of the United States Department of State or the Walmart Foundation.