News / Asia

Thailand Registers Migrants in Bid to Crack Down on Traffickers

A migrant worker from Burma arranges shrimps at her shop in the Thai border town of Mae Sot, Nov. 7, 2010. (file photo)
A migrant worker from Burma arranges shrimps at her shop in the Thai border town of Mae Sot, Nov. 7, 2010. (file photo)

This week is the final deadline for a migrant worker registration program in Thailand that logs foreign workers and the businesses that employ them.

The program is aimed at cracking down on human trafficking gangs that make a lucrative profit from foreign workers and employers who take advantage of them.

Nai is a 25-year-old Burmese man who came to Thailand six years ago to try to pay off debts from a failed shrimp business in southern Burma.

Like many other Burmese, he chose a criminal gang to help him find work.  Such gangs traffic thousands of Burmese into jobs in factories, agriculture labor, domestic help or as sex workers.

Nai paid the agents to place him in a Thai factory.  The agents loaned him about $300 for additional up-front costs, a loan that he says had to be repaid within months at two or three times the original value.

Nai, a Burmese migrant worker.
Nai, a Burmese migrant worker.
Nai says the factory conditions were very bad. There was the issue of repaying the "transport costs" at double the rate. The front man carried guns and, if he did not like what he saw, the workers were abused.

Nai escaped and is now one of over 300,000 Burmese working in the seafood industry in Samut Sakon province on the outskirts of Bangkok. Burmese language signs in the market are testament to the Burmese in the community.  

Looming deadline

The Thai government says about one million migrant workers have registered with the government program since it began in June. The main registration deadline was in July, but officials extended the deadline for workers in the fishing industry until Saturday.

After the deadline passes, employers could be fined for hiring unregistered workers. And illegal workers could also face fines or jail.

A U.S. State Department report on trafficking in persons released this year classified Thailand in the second tier category of counties linked to human trafficking, alongside Afghanistan, Cambodia, China, Russia and Zambia.

The United Nations says some 2.5 million people from 127 countries are trafficked into more than 130 countries each year. The International Labor Organization estimates human trafficking is worth more than $30 billion a year to criminal gangs.

More cooperation needed

Joy Ezeilo, the U.N. special reporter on human trafficking, is visiting Thailand this week to assess efforts to deal with illegal migration and trafficked persons. She says that better international cooperation is required to combat trafficking, but the controversial nature of the issue can make that difficult.

“Some of these things are becoming very unfortunately highly politicized in many countries of the world and that is also creating tension and all kinds of xenophobic approaches to issues of migrants," Ezeilo says. "We should also know that migration contributes to development both in the receiving country and also the country where they come from, so we have to look at this in a broader perspective.”

Ezeilo is meeting with government officials, non-government and migrant worker groups to discuss the migrant registration program and other issues.

Sompong Srakraew, director of the Labor Rights Promotion Network Foundation in Thailand, says although the Thai government has taken steps to reduce the hardships faced by illegal workers, it still falls short of goals set by non-government groups.

“Last two years, [the] Thai government has been concerned about child labor also and the ministry of labor has been working closely with the International Labor Organization for serving child labor," Sompong says. "But, at the same time, ministry of labor try to deny having the child labor [in factories]. But the situation and information is different [between] Thai government and NGO [non-governmental organization] like me.”

Migrant labor groups are welcoming Ezeilo’s visit but say the problem is regional and attention needs also to focus on the criminal gangs that oversee the regional trade.

You May Like

Will Cuba Follow the Southeast Asia Model?

Decision to restore ties between US and Cuba has some debating whether it will lead to an enhancement or regression of democracy on the Communist island nation More

Kenyan Designer Finds Her Niche in Fashion Industry

‘Made in China’ fabrics underlie her success More

Report: CIA, Israel's Mossad Killed Senior Hezbollah Commander

The Washington Post story says Imad Mughniyah was killed instantly by a bomb "triggered remotely" from Tel Aviv by Mossad agents More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Jefferson's Library Continues to Impress, 200 Years Lateri
X
Deborah Block
January 31, 2015 12:12 AM
Two hundred years after the U.S. Congress purchased a huge collection of books belonging to former President Thomas Jefferson, it remains one of America’s greatest literal treasures and has become the centerpiece of Washington’s Library of Congress. VOA’s Deborah Block reports.
Video

Video Jefferson's Library Continues to Impress, 200 Years Later

Two hundred years after the U.S. Congress purchased a huge collection of books belonging to former President Thomas Jefferson, it remains one of America’s greatest literal treasures and has become the centerpiece of Washington’s Library of Congress. VOA’s Deborah Block reports.
Video

Video Egypt's Suez Canal Dreams Tempered by Continued Unrest

Egypt plans to expand the Suez Canal, raising hopes that the end of its economic crisis may be in sight. But some analysts say they expect the project may cost too much and take too long to make life better for everyday Egyptians. VOA's Heather Murdock reports.
Video

Video Threat of Creeping Lava Has Hawaiians on Edge

Residents of the small town of Pahoa on the Big Island of Hawaii face an advancing threat from the Kilauea volcano. Local residents are keeping a watchful eye on creeping lava. Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Pro-Kremlin Youth Group Creatively Promotes 'Patriotic' Propaganda

As Russia's President Vladimir Putin faces international pressure over Ukraine and a failing economy, unofficial domestic groups are rallying to his support. One such youth organization, CET, or Network, uses creative multimedia to appeal to Russia's urban youth with patriotic propaganda. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Filmmakers Produce Hand-Painted Documentary on Van Gogh

The troubled life of the famous 19th century Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh has been told through many books and films, but never in the way a group of filmmakers now intends to do. "Loving Vincent " will be the first ever feature-length film made of animated hand-painted images, done in the style of the late artist. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Issues or Ethnicity? Question Divides Nigeria

As Nigeria goes to the polls next month, many expect the two top presidential contenders to gain much of their support from constituencies organized along ethnic or religious lines. But are faith and regional blocs really what political power in Nigeria is about? Chris Stein reports.
Video

Video Rock-Consuming Organisms Alter Views of Life Processes

Scientists thought they knew much about how life works, until a discovery more than two decades ago challenged conventional beliefs. Scientists found that there are organisms that breathe rocks. And it is only recently that the scientific community is accepting that there are organisms that could get energy out of rocks. Correspondent Elizabeth Lee reports.
Video

Video Paris Attacks Highlight Global Weapons Black Market

As law enforcement officials piece together how the Paris and Belgian terror cells carried out their recent attacks, questions are being asked about how they obtained military grade assault weapons - which are illegal in the European Union. As VOA's Jeff Swicord reports, experts say there is a very active worldwide black market for these weapons, and criminals and terrorists are buying.
Video

Video Activists Accuse China of Targeting Religious Freedom

The U.S.-based Chinese religious rights group ChinaAid says 2014 was the worst year for religious freedom in China since the end of the Cultural Revolution. As Ye Fan reports, activists say Beijing has been tightening religious controls ever since Chinese leader Xi Jinping came to office. Hu Wei narrates.
Video

Video Theologians Cast Doubt on Morality of Drone Strikes

In 2006, stirred by photos of U.S. soldiers mistreating Iraqi prisoners, a group of American faith leaders and academics launched the National Religious Campaign Against Torture. It played an important role in getting Congress to investigate, and the president to ban, torture. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Former Sudan 'Lost Boy' Becomes Chess Master in NYC

In the mid-1980’s, thousands of Sudanese boys escaped the country's civil war by walking for weeks, then months and finally for more than a year, up to 1,500 kilometers across three countries. The so-called Lost Boys of the Sudan had little time for games. But one of them later mastered the game of chess, and now teaches it to children in the New York area. VOA’s Bernard Shusman in New York has his story.
Video

Video NASA Monitors Earth’s Vital Signs From Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, is wrapping up its busiest 12-month period in more than a decade, with three missions launched in 2014 and two this month, one in early January and the fifth scheduled for January 29. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, the instruments being lifted into orbit are focused on Earth’s vital life support systems and how they are responding to a warmer planet.

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

All About America

AppleAndroid