88 Thai human trafficking suspects on trial

2015-11-10 17:00
Head of Giant statue in Wat Pra Kaew. (iStock)

Head of Giant statue in Wat Pra Kaew. (iStock)

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Bangkok - A Thai court began examining witnesses and evidence Tuesday in the trial of 88 defendants charged over the trafficking of Rohingya migrants, a court official said.

The suspects, including a former senior army general, are accused of colluding in the trafficking of Rohingya and Bangladeshi migrants following a crackdown on the people-smuggling network in Thailand.

The crackdown came after the discovery of mass graves and trafficking camps in May in a remote forest near the Thai-Malaysian border.

The investigation and arrests of suspects involved in the trafficking network caused boats used by traffickers to stay off Thailand's western shores, where they usually landed before the people were trafficked across the border to Malaysia.

The revelations of the camps and graves also provoked a migrant crisis in the region, in which thousands of migrants from Myanmar and Bangladesh were left stranded at sea after smugglers fled from the boats.

It could take years before a verdict on the case is delivered, said the court official, who did not wish to be named as he was not authorized to speak to the media.

Before the crackdown, tens of thousands of Rohingya, a stateless ethnic minority facing persecution in western Myanmar, and Bangladeshi migrants had taken the journey across the Andaman Sea to find work in Malaysia or Indonesia.

Thailand has been in the worst category of the US State Department's Trafficking in Persons report for not fully complying with the minimum standards and not making significant efforts to do so.

According to the report, the country is a source, destination, and transit country for men, women, and children subjected to forced labour and sex trafficking.

Read more on:    myanmar  |  thailand

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