Current News

Government move to help detained Rohingya

Fears
grow of US human trafficking downgrade



Authorities
have pledged to look after the 704 Rohingya migrants rounded up in
two raids.

The
promise comes amid growing concerns that Thailand could face a
downgrade on a US human trafficking watch list and risk sanctions by
the US.

Immigration
officers and police yesterday found a second group of 307 Rohingya
migrants including more than a dozen children in a warehouse on the
border with Malaysia.



They
were found in Ban Dan Nok in Sadao district of Songkhla and were
waiting to be transferred to a third country, authorities said.


On
Thursday, authorities rescued a different group of 397 Rohingya
migrants locked up at a shelter in a remote rubber plantation, also
in Sadao district.

The
group were staying in a makeshift shelter in the plantation where
they had languished for three months waiting to be trafficked to a
third country, police said.

Acting
on a tip-off, officials stormed the shelter on Thursday and found the
Rohingya.

“They
are now waiting for deportation which will be done by Thailand’s
immigration police,” Lt Col Katika Jitbanjong of Padang Besar
police said.

“They
told officials they had volunteered to come to Thailand,” he
said, adding police were seeking an arrest warrant for the Thai
landowner on charges of human trafficking and sheltering illegal
migrants.

Pol
Maj Thanu Duangkaewngam, the inspector at the Songkhla immigration
office, said police will investigate and find those responsible for
smuggling the migrants into the country.
The
migrants will have to be deported back to Myanmar.

Pol
Col Krisakorn Pleethanyawong, deputy chief of the Songkhla provincial
police, said officers had detained eight people – four Myanmar
nationals, two Rohingya and two Thais – who had smuggled the 397
migrants.

They
have been charged with smuggling and sheltering people illegally, as
well as possessions of firearms.

Police
will also summon two suspects for questioning. One of them is Prasit
Lemlae, deputy mayor of the Padang Besar municipality, who owns the
rubber plantation where the 397 Rohingya migrants were discovered.

National
police chief Adul Saengsingkaew yesterday told his subordinates to
visit the migrants and find ways to ensure they are well looked after
pending their deportation.

The
Social Development and Human Security Ministry will also allocate
money to help the migrants, Pol Gen Adul said.

The
police force’s anti-human trafficking division will send its staff to
work with local police to track down the human trafficking network
which links Thailand, Myanmar and Malaysia, he said.

The
704 migrants have now been separated into two groups.

A
group of 105 women and children have been sent to the Songkhla
Children and Family Shelter and the male migrants have been moved to
shelters at the Sa Dao immigration office, and nearby local police
stations.

Meanwhile,
Deputy Prime Minister Chalerm Yubamrung will take foreign diplomats
including those from the US and the Pacific region and the EU to
visit Samut Sakhon where many migrant labourers work.

The
visit is meant to assure foreign countries that the government is
making a serious effort to solve and prevent illegal human
trafficking.

Thailand
has been on the US government’s Tier 2 Watch List in the Trafficking
in Persons Report for the past two years.

The
US will review the status again next month. If Thailand makes the
Tier 2 list for a third time, it will be automatically downgraded to
Tier 3 – the lowest classification and the same level with North
Korea – which could mean that non-tariff sanctions are imposed.