Cablegate: Thailand Trafficking in Persons

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.





E.O. 12958: N/A

REF: Bangkok 1321

Sensitive but unclassified - handle accordingly

1. (U) Summary: Recent activities have focused on
child trafficking and child sex tourism in Thailand.
A child sex tourism seminar was held in Bangkok
under the auspices of the USG-supported Bali
Process, with DHS/ICE representing the USG and
providing a case study. The NGO IJM reports
progress in repatriating nine Thai hill tribe women
who had been trafficked to Malaysia last year. An
ILO-IPEC workshop, funded by USDOL, produced a
useful survey of deficiencies in anti-trafficking
legal frameworks in six Asian countries, with a Thai
official predicting that the RTG's draft Anti-
Trafficking Law would not be approved by Parliament
until late 2006. Thai MP's indicate they have
evidence of Thai women trafficked to Taiwan for
forced prostitution. End Summary.


2. (U) The Australian Federal Police (AFP) and Royal
Thai Police (RTP) jointly sponsored a Bali Process
Regional Strategy Seminar on Child Sex Tourism in
Bangkok on November 14-16. The Bali Process is a
program of coordinated anti-trafficking activities,
administered by the International Organization for
Migration (IOM), which receives significant USG and
other donor funding. (Australia and Indonesia are
co-chairs of the Bali Process steering group, while
Thailand and New Zealand are coordinators.) U.S.
officials from DHS/ICE presented an overview of
DHS's Operation Predator, accompanied by a case
study of a prominent child sex trafficking
conviction in Thailand. Law enforcement
representatives from 15 other countries and Interpol
also made presentations on their efforts.

3. (SBU) A senior program development officer at IOM
met with the Embassy's TIP Task Force on November 23
to review the outcomes of the seminar. The IOM
officer praised the DHS/ICE case study, which
highlighted the challenges faced in prosecuting an
Amcit university teacher who had traveled throughout
Southeast Asia and was ultimately convicted in
Thailand on child sex charges. Thai and U.S. law
enforcement officials noted that the conviction was
all too rare due to narrowly defined Thai laws which
require that a criminal act be committed, or be
practically on the verge of being committed, in
order for a case to be prosecuted (in contrast to
the U.S. Protect Act which allows prosecution for
intended child sex crimes).

4. (SBU) The IOM representative said that while the
seminar succeeded in generating discussion about
specific cases, it had difficulty meeting overly
ambitious goals which were intended to highlight
best practices in national police force cooperation,
advance the use of sexual assault identification
kits, and implement model legislation. A principal
reason for this, he said, was the lack of
participation in the seminar by prosecutors, judges
and legislators responsible for developing and
enforcing laws to combat trafficking and child sex
tourism. Future events, such as a planned workshop
in the Philippines, would benefit from such
participation, as well as from having more targeted
objectives, such as training authorities on the use
of sexual victims ID kits, the techniques of
interviewing victims, and developing manuals for
processing sex crime evidence.

5. (SBU) IOM briefed seminar participants about
IOM's regional return and reintegration program,
which provides life skills development and psycho-
social assistance for victims, that has been funded
by the PRM Bureau at State. IOM officials also
noted G/TIP's assistance in funding IOM victim
referral systems in Malaysia, saying that Malaysian
officials have expressed interest in further IOM
training for law enforcement officials. The systems
have assisted Malaysia in repatriating Thai victims
from abroad. The IOM official noted the USG
contribution of over USD 330,000 to the Bali Process
to date, with PRM funding in the past two years
concentrating on victim protection, provision of
asylum, and anti-trafficking.

6. (SBU) In light of the substantial USG role in
funding Bali Process activities, the IOM official
said he hoped Australian organizers would be more
proactive in soliciting USG participation in future
events. He said the DHS/ICE presentation was warmly
welcomed by participants, including the Australians,
but had been arranged on short notice only through
the efforts of IOM, while IOM itself was also
brought in late by the AFP to play a coordinating


7. (SBU) Representatives of NGO International
Justice Mission (IJM) continue to work with Dr.
Saisuree Chutikul, chair of Thailand's Sub-Committee
for Coordination on Combating Trafficking in
Children and Women, to repatriate nine ethnic Thai
Yai women who had been trafficked to Malaysia and
were removed from brothels in Johor Bahru by
Malaysian police in February this year (reftel).
Repatriation of the nine women has been delayed due
to their lack of Thai (or any other) citizenship,
but a June 14 RTG Cabinet decision committed the RTG
to consider repatriating them if their previous Thai
residency could be proved. In August, IJM provided
Thai authorities with copies of house registrations
and other documents verifying that the nine women
had residences in Mae Sai and Chiang Rai before
being trafficked to Malaysia. Dr. Chutikul has
since forwarded those documents, along with a
September 29 resolution from her Sub-Committee, to
the RTG Ministry of Foreign Affairs to begin
processing the repatriation. According to Dr.
Chutikul, Thai consular officials in Kuala Lumpur
have since interviewed the women, in coordination
with Malaysian officials, and are awaiting approval
by the Thai Interior Ministry to process their
repatriation. IJM reports that while they are
relieved the cumbersome repatriation process appears
to be in its final stages, they hope this will serve
as the pilot case for possibly hundreds of other
stateless detainees in Malaysia who could qualify
for repatriation to Thailand.


8. (U) The International Labor Organization's
International Program to Eliminate Child Labor (ILO-
IPEC) conducted a two-day workshop on November 22-23
in Bangkok which presented a comparative review of
the child trafficking legal frameworks in six
countries, including Thailand. The workshop was
conducted under the auspices of ILO-IPEC's Regional
Project to Combat Trafficking in Children for Labor
and Sexual Exploitation (TICSA) phase II, which
workshop organizers noted is funded by the U.S.
Department of Labor in the amount of USD 3 million.
The research review, by consultants Radhika
Coomaraswamy and Ambika Satkunanathan, highlights
the following principal deficiencies in Thai
legislation (the 1997 Measures in Prevention and
Suppression of Trafficking in Women and Children

-- Sexual exploitation is the only identifiable end
product of trafficking. Trafficking for the purpose
of providing bonded labor is not specifically

-- In some cases, where the end result is not
prostitution, traffickers can only be prosecuted for
violations of the Immigration Act or the Labour Act.
Trafficking victims themselves are treated as
illegal migrants and charged accordingly, if they
have been brought from another country, and can be
deported against their will.

-- Traffickers must be proven to have illegally
benefited from their criminal actions, which places
an unnecessary extra burden of proof on prosecutors.

-- Certain laws still limit the definition of sex
crime victims to include women or girls only,
excluding the possibility of male victims.

-- Support granted to trafficking victims is
minimal, and few resources are devoted to
rehabilitation of victims to minimize their exposure
to re-trafficking in the future.

9. (U) The paper noted that Thailand's draft
Prevention and Suppression of Human Trafficking Act
of 2003 (which has yet to be approved by
Parliament), will remove many deficiencies in Thai
law by greatly expanding the definition of
trafficking, providing a USD 12.5 million dollar
fund for long-term victim care and treatment, and
granting Thai authorities extra-territorial
jurisdiction to prosecute traffickers no matter
where the offenses are committed. However, the
senior Thai representative at the workshop, from the
Ministry of Social Development and Human Security,
said the draft Act is not likely to be approved by
Thailand's Parliament until the end of 2006. (A copy
of the ILO-IPEC paper, which also reviews legal
frameworks in Nepal, Pakistan, Indonesia, Bangladesh
and Sri Lanka, is being pouched to G/TIP-Mark Taylor
and DRL/IL-Joe DeMaria. ILO-IPEC also expects a
written summary/transcript of the workshop to be
available in mid-December.)

--------------------------------------------- ---
--------------------------------------------- ---

10. (U) Thai police confirmed on November 1 that
they had arrested a 49-year old Bangkok woman for
selling her 14-year old daughter for sexual
services. The woman, who was turned in to police by
neighboring residents, claimed that she needed to
pay off debts accrued during the hospitalization of
her now-deceased husband. According to police, she
admitted selling her daughter for sex, at rate of
USD 25 to 75 per customer, and that the customers
"included government officials and well-off
businessmen." The police have sent the daughter to
a women and children's welfare center while her
mother continues to be questioned. The mother, if
convicted of bringing her child into prostitution,
faces 20 years' imprisonment and a fine of up to USD
10,000. Police told the Embassy that they will
follow up on leads indicating any involvement of
government officials in procuring prostitution from
a minor.


11. (U) On 13 November 2005, Member of Parliament
Kusumalvati Sirikomart said that a trip to Taiwan by
members of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs
uncovered a large number of Thai women forced into
prostitution after registering marriage certificates
with Taiwanese nationals. Kusumalvati said the
women, who had believed they were applying for
legitimate work, "ended up working in massage
parlors from Noon to 4 AM because they are in debt
to job brokers by as much as 400,000-500,000 Baht
(USD 10,000 to 12,500)." The MP said the committee
became aware of the matter in January and February
of this year when 22 women contacted the Bureau of
Trade and Commerce in Taiwan requesting repatriation
back to Thailand. Likhit Tiravekin, Deputy Chairman
of the Committee on Foreign Affairs, described the
situation as "a slave ring," saying that the women
were being forced to take drugs and service as many
as ten customers a day to pay off their debts. He
said that as many as 10,000 Thai women currently
work in Taiwan having registered marriage
certificates with Taiwanese nationals.


12. (U) Organizers of the planned March, 2006 Vital
Voices NGO anti-trafficking workshop in Bangkok
confirmed that the RTG has agreed to co-host the
event along with the Vital Voices and the Embassy.
Vital Voices welcomed a commitment from G/TIP for
USD 25,000 in funding for the conference, as well as
a planned contribution from EAP/RSP. The Embassy is
exploring the possibility of further funding through
USAID and Public Affairs to ensure the success of
this event, which will be attended by NGO and
government representatives from five Southeast Asian
countries and China.

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