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People smuggling: More than 70 Rohingya are still being held in Ranong

MediaWATCH: Clinton Blasts 'Modern Slavery'

Wednesday, June 17, 2009
EXPECT a dramatic crackdown on people-smuggling in Thailand and the region as US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton releases a report on human trafficking and heads in July for a summit on Phuket. We've made it a ''special issue'' today.

Today's Must Read

Bangkok Post The US government described Thailand as a victim and source of exploitation of human trafficking, but credited the government with taking serious efforts to fight the world scourge. A Trafficking in Persons Report released by Mrs Clinton says much has been done but remains to do to fight what she called ''modern-day slavery''. Thailand is listed in the report as a so-called Tier 2 country, meaning it does not adhere to the US government-defined ''common standards'' but has made huge efforts to comply. There are 76 countries on this list, including Asean partners Indonesia, Brunei, Vietnam, Laos and Singapore. Burma and Malaysia are at the bottom of the rankings, Tier 3 nations which the US says have no standards.

Associated Press The Obama administration has faulted Malaysia, a key US partner in Southeast Asia, for failing to do enough to stop the sexual and forced labor exploitation of women and children. The State Department report put Malaysia on its list of top trafficking offenders. Countries cited for failing to take adequate steps to address trafficking can be subject to limited sanctions. The report said that Malaysia is a destination and source ''for women and children trafficked for the purpose of commercial sexual exploitation and for men, women and children trafficked for the purpose of forced labour.'' It recommended that Malaysia's government fully implement and enforce anti-trafficking laws and increase prosecutions, convictions and sentences for sex and labour trafficking.

AFP The United States has added six African countries to a blacklist of countries trafficking in people, and put US trading partner Malaysia back on the list. The report said Saudi Arabia and Kuwait admit men and women from Asian and African countries to work as domestic servants or other low-skilled laborers, but then subject many to ''involuntary servitude.'' It added that Saudi Arabia made ''no discernible efforts'' to punish or prosecute traffickers, although Kuwait ''demonstrated some progress'' in punishing them. ''This is modern slavery, a crime that spans the globe, providing ruthless employers with an endless supply of people to abuse for financial gain,'' Mrs Clinton said in introducing the report. The report said ''the global economic crisis is also boosting the demand side of human trafficking.'' The 17 countries on the blacklist could face sanctions, including the withholding of non-humanitarian, non-trade related US aid.

cnn.com The report cites information that Malaysian immigration officials sold refugees to traffickers operating along its border with Thailand. When the victims were unable to pay a ransom demanded by the traffickers, the report says, they were sold for labor and commercial sex exploitation. The Philippines, Cambodia, Bangladesh and Pakistan were added to a ''watch list'' because of what the report calls a worsening trafficking record in those countries. The 52 countries on the watch list have failed to to meet the minimum anti-trafficking standards but are making efforts to do so.

canada.com Canada is a source and destination country for men, women, and children trafficked for the purposes of commercial sexual exploitation and forced labor. Many trafficking victims are from Thailand, Cambodia, Malaysia, Vietnam, China, South Korea, the Philippines, Russia, and Ukraine. Asian victims tend to be trafficked more frequently to Vancouver and Western Canada, the report states. It also says Canadian women and girls, many of whom are aboriginal, are trafficked internally for commercial sexual exploitation. Canadian politicians promised long ago to eliminate exotic dancing from its list of skilled worker categories for immigration because of fears that traffickers were using it as a loophole to legally import women into forced prostitution, yet 14 permits were issued last year. Fifteen were handed out in 2007 and 22 in 2006. Only five traffickers have ever been convicted.

rfa.org (radio free asia) People in danger of falling prey to human traffickers are even more vulnerable as a result of the global economic downturn. ''Economic pressure, especially in the global economic crisis, makes more people susceptible to the false promises of traffickers,'' MrsClinton said. ''Trafficking has a broad global impact as well. It weakens legitimate economies, fuels violence, threatens public health and safety, shatters families, and shreds the social fabric that is necessary for progress,'' Mrs Clinton told a news conference.

TNA Three ethnic Rohingya men from Burma have been arrested by Thai immigration police and the Department of Special Investigation and charged with ''involvement in transnational criminal activities.'' Police Colonel Tawee Sodsong, DSI chief, and representatives of the army and the police bureau, jointly told the press that the first Rohingya man was arrested Monday in the northeastern province of Chaiyaphum. The other men were apprehended in Hat Yai in the southern provinces of Songkhla. He said all the three men are also allegedly engaged in sending South Asian people to third countries via Thailand and the seized documents indicated showed that the trio might have supported militants operating in Thailand's southern border provinces. Hundreds of Rohingya boat people have been arrested, mainly off the southern province of Ranong bordering Burma.

Covering 175 countries, the report is available at http:// www.state.gov/g/tip/rls/tiprpt/2009/index.htm.

The Nation Fed up with pestering SMS messages? Authorities have come up with an idea to rescue you. ''We plan to introduce something like a 'Do Not Call Centre' in a bid to block unwanted SMS messages,'' PM's Office Minister Satit Wongnongtaey says. Khun Satit is also the chair of the Consumer Protection Board. In some countries, telemarketers and attentiongetters are barred from contacting someone who has registered his or her phone number with a Do Not Call Centre.

abclocalgo.com According to a survey by the web site SeatGuru, American Airlines serves the worst meals. United and US Airways do not fare much better, according to the passengers surveyed. They also said United and American had the rudest flight attendants and least comfortable seats. International carriers apparently do a better job. The survey says Singapore and Air France serve the best food.

voanews.com India says the number of swine flu patients in the country has risen to 31. The latest confirmed cases involve a group of students recently returned from a study trip to the US. Officials are expressing their frustration with a perceived lack of adequate screening of Indians returning from America. Minister of State for Health Dinesh Trivedi is calling for screening of passengers departing from airports in the US, as is being done in Mexico. ''You have to screen," Trivedi said.

Phuketwan on Human Trafficking

Phuket Still Linked to Slavery and Trafficking
Latest The release of a brochure on people trafficking highlights the part Phuket played in a notorious smuggling incident. Not a lot has changed since then.
Phuket Still Linked to Slavery and Trafficking

Immigration Nabs 'Phuket-Trail People Smuggler'
Photo Album Immigration officers say they have arrested a leading people trafficker as he prepared today to smuggle more than 30 Burmese laborers to Phuket.
Immigration Nabs 'Phuket-Trail People Smuggler'

Thailand's UN Pledge: No More Boat People Deaths
Photo Album No more pushing back the boats: that is the guarantee extracted from Thailand by the UN as an international body looks at human trafficking and its tragic outcomes.
Thailand's UN Pledge: No More Boat People Deaths

Human Trafficking: Suffocation, or Solution?
LatestDesperation drives Rohingya, Burmese and others into the hands of human traffickers, putting their lives on the line. The Bali Process this week may provide answers that Thailand needs.
Human Trafficking: Suffocation, or Solution?

Phuketwan Phuket News

Phuket Governor Treks to China for Tourists
Airlines Latest Arrivals and departures at Phuket airport show another downturn as the island's governor plans a trip to China to revive tourist numbers.
Phuket Governor Treks to China for Tourists

Big Phuket Asia Summit a Prize for Five-Stars
Cash Flow Bonus Resorts in the north of Phuket will share the benefits of a 2000 person influx of guests for an important international summit in July, it has been revealed.
Big Phuket Asia Summit a Prize for Five-Stars

Help! Secretary of State Clinton to Visit Phuket
Phuket Celebrity Husband and former President Bill helped tourism recover after the tsunami. Now next month, Hillary Clinton, US Secretary of State, is set to visit Phuket.
Help! Secretary of State Clinton to Visit Phuket

Latest: Phuket Crime Surge Sparks Public Protest
Crime Wave People on Phuket are protesting in public at a surge in crime. The island's police chief admits it is going to be difficult to control. He just doesn't have enough officers.
Latest: Phuket Crime Surge Sparks Public Protest

Recent Phuketwan MediaWATCH

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News Digest Public Health tries to clamp Thailand's media; asthma adds to danger; plane makers battle downswing; panda adds some good cheer.
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