[Stop-traffic] Thai-Cambodia Agreement

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Subject: [Stop-traffic] Thai-Cambodia Agreement
From: Ann Jordan (Annj@HRLawgroup.org)
Date: Wed Nov 08 2000 - 18:02:39 EST


The Nation
Bangkok
Thursday, November 9, 2000

Anti-trafficking agreement reached
by Marisa Chimprabha

THAILAND and Cambodia will soon sign their first bilateral memorandum to
combat
trafficking in women and children, a measure expected to help protect those
targeted by
human smuggling syndicates.

Both countries yesterday met to discuss and compare drafts of the
memorandum, the
first Thailand has reached with another country on the issue.

Saisuree Chutikul, chairperson of the sub-committee on the elimination of
trafficking in
women and children, National Youth Bureau, said the memorandum was inspired
by the
increasing number of children and women from Cambodia who have been lured
into
working illegally in Thailand.

"The Cambodians are lured and forced into work as prostitutes and beggars in
Thailand. Some are beaten and abused when they refuse to work. The draft
will be a
mechanism and channel to facilitate the suppression of syndicates, to
prevent them
from continuing their work," Saisuree said.

According to the draft, the trafficking category would include those people
smuggled
into the country for purposes of prostitution, forced domestic labour,
servile marriage,
false adoption, sex tourism and entertainment, pornography and forced
begging.

Saisuree stressed that women and children who are found to have been
trafficked into
Thailand tend to be deported at the earliest opportunity, thus preventing
police from
obtaining key information and evidence directly from the victims. "Those
victims are
excellent sources for police and the concerned authorities. So they should
stay in
shelters in Thailand to provide information about the syndicates before
being sent
back," Saisuree said.

Government representatives as well as Thai and foreign non-governmental
organisations which work with women and children attended yesterday's
meeting.

Cambodia's under secretary for foreign affairs, Long Visaro, said the
proposed
memorandum was a necessary component of both countries' efforts to crack
down on
syndicates and prevent the further trafficking of women and children.

He added he was not certain when the memorandum would be completed or when
it
would become effective, saying it was up to both countries to decide.

Saisuree said that Cambodia is more prepared than other neighbouring
countries of
Thailand and has expressed an eagerness to jointly combat the illegal
activities.

The exact number of Cambodian women and children lured onto Thai soil to
work as
prostitutes and beggars is not known. But the number is believed to be
increasing
rapidly, she said.

"Once the memorandum goes into force, it could be a model for further
agreements
Thailand could have with other countries," she added.

Speaking at the same meeting, the Foreign Ministry's deputy general of the
International
Organisation department, Chariyavat Santabutr, said the memorandum would
build up
"strategic partnerships" among players on the issue.

"There are plenty of government agencies as well as NGOs that work on the
issue. This
has brought about an overlap of work. The draft, which could be subject to
changes
upon discussion, would help categorise the work for all of them, so that
they could be
strategic partners to tackle the problems," said Chariyavat.

He added that women and children lured into illegal activities should be
regarded as
"victims" rather than "violators" of the law. "Those women and children
should not face
legal action as they were victims - not violators of the law," he said.

Those at yesterday's meeting agreed the process to enact the memorandum
could take
time, but that it was good that both countries had initiated the process for
the sake of the
women and children affected. [End]
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