URGENT: Solidarity Action

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siriporn skrobanek (gaatw@mozart.inet.co.th)
Mon, 20 Apr 1998 10:06:40 +0700


CAMPAIGN AGAINST THE HUMAN RIGHTS VIOLATION OF THAI WOMEN BY THE THAI
EMBASSY AND CANADIAN GOVERNMENT

During September 1997, Canadian police in co-operation with the United
States police raided brothels in San Jose, California and Toronto, rescuing
more than 20 women from Thailand and Malaysia who were being forced to work
and live in debt-bondage.

The Canadian and U,S. police report that these trafficking networks are
linked to criminal organisations. This particular network recruited women
aged 16 to 30 from Thailand, Malaysia, and Singapore, and sold the women
for up to 25,000 Canadian dollars (640,000 Baht). These women were smuggled
to were again re-sold to various sex establishments such as massage parlours
or brothers for 7,500-15,000 Canadian dollars (194,000-388,800 Baht).

The women were forced to work off their debt, and lived in slavery-like
conditions. They were not allowed to rest, were denied any access to health
services, and did not receive any wages. They were denied all freedoms.

Therefore, it was a big surprise when, rather than protecting their human
rights, the rescued women were charged by Canadian officials for doing sex
work and living in a bawdy house. During the arrest process, two women
confessed. These two women did not know their rights and had no assistance
during the arrest process. A Thai official from the Thai Embassy in Ottawa
told them to confess so that they could return to Thailand.

In early April, these two women returned to Thailand. The Thai Embassy in
Ottawa issue these women Certificates of Identity (C.I.). However, when
these women arrived in Bangkok, they were charged by Thai Immigration
officers because their C.I. stated that they had come to Canada with a false
passport.

The actions taken by the Canadian police violate the intentions of the
international community in their treatment of the women as criminals. In
addition, these actions violate international laws, such as the Universal
Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and
Political Rights (ICCPR) which have been ratified by both Thailand and
Canada. Further, the actions taken by the Thai Embassy in Ottawa and the
Thai Immigration officers go against the Thai constitution principles of
respect for freedom and humanity of all persons.

We ask for urgent solidarity action for this case. Please write the Minister
of Foreign Affairs in Thailand demand him to take the following urgent action:

- To repeal all charges against these two women and to provide compensation
to the women for being confined and charged.
- To examine the operation of the officials involved from the Thai Embassy
in Ottawa and the Thai Consulate in Toronto.
- To set up standard rules for the treatment of Thai people in overseas
countries who are the victims of trafficking, slavery-like practices and
debt-bondage. These rules must respect the victims" human rights. In
addition, training should be provided to officials after the rules have been
established.
- To reimburse the amount of 1,665.32 Canadian dollars to the volunteers of
the Toronto Network Against Trafficking in Women for the food and
accommodations given to these women. The volunteers used this money based on
the recommendations of the Thai Embassy in Ottawa.
- To co-operate with the Canadian government and not press charges against
the women who did not confess and are still living in Canada awaiting trail.
These women should not be punished, but rather an effort should be made to
penalize the criminal network involved.

The attached protest letter can be used as an example. Thank you for your
support.

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To : Minister of Foreign Affairs
Fax: 662-226-1374
Email: off0100@mserv.mfa.go.th
Date: 17 April 1998

Subject: "Project Orphan Case" and the work done by the Thai Embassy,
Ottawa, Canada

Dear Mr. Minister,

Regarding the Project Orphan Case in September 1997, Canadian police in
co-operation with the United States police raided brothels in San Jose,
California and Toronto, rescuing more than 20 women from Thailand and
Malaysia who were being forced to work and live in debt-bondage.

On April 1, 1998, two Thai women returned home with a Certificate of
Identity (C.I) issued by the Thai Embassy in Ottawa. After arriving at the
Bangkok Airport, they were arrested by immigration police due to a written
note by the Thai Embassy on their C.I. stating that they had immigrated to
Canada using a false passport.

We consider these two women to be victims of the organized crime of
trafficking in person. Traffic in persons is an international problem which
concerns many countries. The global community, the United Nations and the
European Union have all agreed that it is necessary to punish the organized
crime networks and not the victims themselves. The victims should be
protected and treated due to their human rights. Officials should not use
immigration laws to attack the victims, but rather should help these victims
to come back home safely. These intentions were agreed upon in the Beijing
Platform for Action and in many other important relevant international
documents.

Therefore, the Thai Embassy's note on the C.I. is an abuse of privacy
rights, and intended to discriminate against the women (to let them be
arrested). This work done by the Thai Embassy in Ottawa is against global
intentions and in effect penalizes the women.

Furthermore, if the Thai Embassy in Ottawa wanted to expand this case to
penalize the criminal network, they can do that by asking the women to be
witnesses against the real criminals.

Therefore, we ask you to take action immediately:

- To repeal all charges against these two women and to provide compensation
to the women for being confined and charged.
- To examine the operation of the officials involved from the Thai Embassy
in Ottawa and the Thai Consulate in Toronto.
- To set up standard rules for the treatment of Thai people in overseas
countries who are the victims of trafficking, slavery-like practices and
debt-bondage. These rules must respect the victims' human rights. In
addition, training should be provided to officials after the rules have been
established.
- To reimburse the amount of 1,665.32 Canadian dollars to the volunteers of
the Toronto Network Against Trafficking in Women for the food and
accommodations given to these women. The volunteers used this money based
on the recommendations of the Thai Embassy in Ottawa.
- To co-operate with the Canadian government and not press charges against
the women who did not confess and are still living in Canada awaiting trail.
These women should not be punished, but rather an effort should be made to
penalise the criminal network involved.

Sincerely,

The Global Alliance Against Traffic in Women
The International Coordination Office,
P.O.Box 1281 Bangrak Post Office,
Bangkok 10500 THAILAND.
E-Mail: GAATW@mozart.inet.co.th
URL: http://www.inet.co.th/org/gaatw


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