Immigration raid frees eight human trafficking victims near Bangkok

January 13, 2009

Women and Child Rights Project:

Eight Burmese human trafficking victims were freed during a raid by Thai immigration authorities in Mahachai, Thailand, yesterday. The victims include 2 women and 6 children, ages 15 to 17.

The eight victims had been forced to work 7-day workweeks of 19-hours per day, for the last 3 months. Though they had agreed to work off a 25,000 baht debt to the trafficker who transported them to Thailand, they were only being given a fraction of a legal or fair working wage.

According to the victims, they were receiving only 1,000 baht per week, far below the salary their long days should have been earning. Thai law sets the minimum wage at 203 baht per day for a working day of 8 hours. Over-time is supposed to earn an extra 38 baht per hour.

The victims are now in a safe house controlled by the Thai government. None of them possess work permits, said the WCRP field reporter who spoke with them, and they are likely to be deported when the investigation into the trafficking closes.

The victims could give little information about the trafficker, whose name they said they did not know. He is around 30 years old, they described, and from their native village in Teinzayut Township, Mon State.

The victims arrived to Thailand by traveling via bus to the border near Mae Sot, and then walking for 5 or 6 days to Mahachai, on the outskirts of Bangkok.

“I didn’t want to come to Thailand to work, but I was worried for my daughter and son. So I follow them to Thailand,” said one of the victims.

The victims were initially arrested along with 171 other migrant workers from Burma. On January 12th, officials from the Thai Department of Special Investigation (DSI) entered a shrimp factory in Mahachai and arrested 100 women, 19 children and 52 men.

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