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

Sydney Hostage-taker Failed to Manipulate Social Media

Gunman forced captives to use personal Facebook, YouTube accounts to issue his demands; online community helped flag messages, urged others not to share them More

UN Seeks $8.4 Billion to Help War-Hit Syrians

Effort aimed at helping Syrians displaced within their own country and those who've fled to neighboring ones More

Who Are the Pakistani Taliban?

It's an umbrella group of militant organizations whose objective is enforcement of Sharia in Pakistan 'whether through peace or war' 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.
Putin: Russian Economy to Rebound in 2 Yearsi
X
December 18, 2014 5:13 PM
Russian President Vladimir Putin held his annual end-of-the-year news conference Thursday, tackling questions on the Russian economy, the crisis in Ukraine and Russian relations with the west. VOA's Jeff Custer reports.
Video

Video Putin: Russian Economy to Rebound in 2 Years

Russian President Vladimir Putin held his annual end-of-the-year news conference Thursday, tackling questions on the Russian economy, the crisis in Ukraine and Russian relations with the west. VOA's Jeff Custer reports.
Video

Video Nigerians Fleeing Boko Haram Languish in Camp Near Capital

In its five-year effort to impose Islamic law in northeastern Nigeria, the Boko Haram extremist group has killed thousands of people and forced hundreds of thousands to flee. Some of those who ran for their lives now live in squalor on the edges of the capital, Abuja. Chris Stein reports for VOA.
Video

Video Detained Turkish Journalists Follow Teachings of US-Based Preacher

The Turkish government’s jailing of critical journalists has sparked international condemnation and is being seen as an effort to undermine the followers of an ailing Turkish preacher based in the United States. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky has more.
Video

Video Will Pakistan School Shooting Galvanize Pakistan Against Extremism?

The attack on a military school in Pakistan’s northwest city of Peshawar left 141 dead, including 132 children. Strong statements of condemnation poured in from across the world. The country announced three days of mourning, and the leadership, both political and military, promised retribution. VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem looks at how likely the Pakistani government is to clamp down on all extremist groups.
Video

Video ‘Anti-Islamization’ Marches Increase Tensions In Germany

Anti-immigrant rallies in Germany have been building in recent weeks, peaking Monday night in the city of Dresden where tens of thousands of people turned out to demonstrate against what they call the ‘Islamization’ of the West. Germany has offered asylum to more Syrian refugees than any other country, and this appears to have set off the protests. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.
Video

Video Refugees Living in Kenya Long for Peace in the Home Countries

Kenya is host to numerous refugees seeking safe haven from conflict. Immigrants from Somalia face challenges in their new lives in Kenya. Ahead of International Migrants Day (December 18) Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.
Video

Video Turkey's Authoritarianism Dismays Western Allies

The Turkish government has been defiant in the face of criticism at home and abroad for its raids targeting opposition media. The European Union on Monday expressed dismay after President Recep Tayyip Erdogan lashed out at Brussels for criticizing his government's action. Turkey's bid to be considered for EU membership has been on hold while critics accuse the NATO ally of increasingly authoritarian rule. Zlatica Hoke reports.

All About America

AppleAndroid