Thai authorities say they have broken up a major human trafficking operation that saw hundreds of Ugandan women trafficked to Thailand and other parts of Southeast Asia.
Police Lieutenant General Jaruvat Vaisaya, head of the Thailand Anti Trafficking in Persons Task Force, said so far 15 Ugandan women had been rescued and that arrest warrants had been issued for 30 Ugandan human traffickers.
Vaisaya says this is the biggest transnational crime case the task force has ever taken down, adding that “We currently have about ten more cases involving Ugandan women in the investigation stage.”
AEC News reports that victims were trapped through debt bondage:
Pol Lt. Gen. Vaisaya said the victims had told stories of being promised good paying jobs working in supermarkets and other segments of the Thailand services sector, and given money prior to leaving Uganda.
“Once they get to Thailand they are told there is no job, the money they were given at home and any other money they have is taken off them, and they are told they have a debt to pay; sometimes this is up to US$40,000 and all they have done is flown from Uganda to Thailand. How can they ever pay that?” he said.
Pol Lt. Gen. Vaisaya said that under a new “victim-centric” approach members of the TATIP task force immediately begin investigating to see if foreigners caught in raids conducted searching for those illegally in the country are involved in human trafficking as either a victim or a trafficker.
Thai authorities said that one challenge they face is that victims fear retaliation against their relatives back home if they come forward about their exploitation, noting that Ugandan human traffickers use ‘black magic’ to control their victims.
“We try various methods to get the women to talk to us. NGO NightLight visits the victims and talks to them to try and get them to cooperate, and helps them in other ways, but it is very difficult to get them to speak. If they cooperate we can finish our investigation and prosecutions faster, meaning they can go home sooner,” Vaisaya said.
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