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Thailand Must Protect Witnesses' Families

Thailand Must Protect Witnesses' Families

Thursday, November 5, 2015
PHUKET: Cases against alleged human traffickers in the military could fall apart unless Thailand's witness protection program is improved quickly, Phuketwan editor Alan Morison said tonight.

He was speaking after becoming one of four winners of a Freedom Award at an Anti-Slavery Australia dinner in Sydney earlier in the night.

''I thank the judges for the award and I do hope more people in Australia and in Thailand come to understand that the appalling treatment of the stateless Rohingya and other boatpeople has to stop,'' Morison said.

The Phuket-based journalist said that a key witness against traffickers was being kept in a safe place in Thailand but his pregnant wife, due to give birth in January, had been left to fend for herself.

''She is relying on charity and the help of other Rohingya in Thailand to survive,'' Morison said. ''Her health is rapidly deteriorating.

''Since the police trafficking investigation unit was disbanded several weeks ago, she has had no-one to turn to for help.

''Intruders have been spotted at night several times around the house where she is living. It's a potentially disastrous situation.

''Her safety is vital to the success of the campaign to end trafficking in Thailand.

''Yet here she is, pregnant, living apart from her husband, and now becoming terrified for her life.''

Morison said convictions of traffickers in uniform are needed for Thailand to prove it is serious about ending the sale of thousands of deprived human beings that had been operating through the country for years.

Earlier tonight, Morison's son Joshua Morison and his daughter-in-law Skye collected the Freedom Award at the Sydney dinner, with the important part played by Phuketwan reporter Chutima Sidasathian emphasised in the acceptance speech.

''She is the brave one,'' Morison said later. ''I just pretend to be brave.''

Solicitor Ian Yarwood, an anti-slavery advocate who nominated Morison for the award, flew from Perth to Sydney for the presentation.

About the Freedom Awards

THE Freedom Awards recognise the outstanding work and contributions of individuals and organisations for initiatives against slavery, slavery-like practices, including forced labor, forced marriage, and human trafficking. The awards seek to raise awareness of all forms of slavery and human trafficking, and to promote the positive difference that individuals and organisations can make to the lives of trafficked people. Now in their fourth year, the Freedom Awards are also intended to acknowledge good practice and promote ethical approaches to combatting human trafficking.

Nominations for the 2015 Anti-Slavery Freedom Awards were considered by an independent, expert committee of specialists in the field of trafficking, slavery and labor exploitation in Australia.

Anti-Slavery Australia is a research and policy centre dedicated to the abolition of human trafficking, slavery and slavery-like practices, and the protection of the human rights of trafficked people. The Centre provides access to legal advice and representation for people who have experienced trafficking, slavery and forced marriage in Australia.

This Year's Winners

Alison Aggarwal

ALISON Aggarwal is a Principal Adviser/Manager at the Australian Human Rights Commission, working on the Australian Defence Force Cultural Reform. Alison's work has been vital in ensuring that a human rights perspective is embedded in the Australian response to human trafficking, slavery and slavery-like practices, including in the drafting of the National Action Plan to Combat Human Trafficking and Slavery (2015-2019). Alison has consistently advocated for Australia to strengthen its response to human trafficking by protecting and respecting the rights of people who have been exploited in Australia, and has highlighted the need for further reform to ensure that survivors of trafficking have access to effective remedies. As well as her humanitarian work in Australia, Alison plays a vital role in promoting the human rights of women and girls in the Asia-Pacific region through her work with the Asia Pacific Forum.

Baptist World Aid Australia, Behind the Barcode Campaign

BEHIND the Barcode: Australian Fashion Report is a campaign by Baptist World Aid Australia, launched in the wake of the catastrophic 2013 Rana Plaza factory collapse in Bangladesh. Creatively promoted in the print and broadcast media, these Reports enable consumers to make educated choices when purchasing clothing and technology. The campaign seeks to empower consumers to shop ethically, and by shaping demand and increasing awareness of human rights abuses in the fashion industry, encourages companies to protect workers from exploitation and to be accountable for working conditions throughout their supply chain. The 2015 release of Behind the Barcode: Australian Fashion Report rates 219 fashion brands and 47 electronic companies. The campaign provides impetus for fashion and technology companies to ensure their supply chains are free from exploitation, forced labor and child labor. The award to Baptist World Aid Australia will be received by the CEO of Baptist World Aid John Hickey.

Dr Maree Marsh csb

SISTER Maree Marsh csb is a Brigidine sister, psychologist and former chair of ACRATH, (Australian Catholic Religious Against Trafficking in Humans). Maree volunteers as a psychologist at Anti-Slavery Australia and has prepared over 20 expert reports on behalf of survivors of human trafficking, slavery and slavery-like practices, for the purpose of making applications to the NSW victims compensation scheme. This contribution has resulted in over 1 million dollars in compensation payable to survivors. Maree's involvement and commitment to vulnerable men and women is a testament to her dedication, professionalism and kindness. Maree supports survivors in rediscovering their own voice, strength and personal power. One survivor shared that ''after meeting with Maree and speaking with her, I have come to realise how capable I am and what I can achieve''.

Alan Morison

ALAN Morison is a veteran Australian journalist who owns and operates the Phuketwan news service in Phuket, Thailand. He has been an outspoken advocate on the plight of the Rohingya refugees and has, at huge personal cost, raised awareness of one of the world's most persecuted groups and their vulnerability to migrant smuggling, human trafficking and slavery. Following a controversial criminal defamation trial this year in which Alan and fellow journalist Chutima Sidasathian were acquitted, they drew international attention to the difficulties that journalists and NGOs face in reporting on human trafficking in Thailand. As a result of Alan's determination, the spotlight of mainstream media in both Australia and the Asia Pacific has turned to an awareness of the vulnerabilities of the Rohingya people to exploitation through migrant smuggling and human trafficking. As Alan is currently in Thailand, his award this evening will be received by his son Joshua Morison.

WATCH Thailand's Moment of Truth - Dateline
The Dateline documentary team from SBS Australia shared the three-day trial of Alan Morison and Chutima Sidasathian with participants for a show full of revealing insights.

WATCH Shallow Graves - Channel News Asia
How a good cop helped Thailand turned the tables on trafficking, a nightmare that may not yet be over.

WATCH Al Jazeera Investigates - Genocide Agenda
A frightening look at what's happening in Myanmar (Burma) where documents reveal a plan to exterminate all Rohingya.

WATCH Journey into Hell - Four Corners
From Burma through Thailand, an award-winning current affairs team traces official complicity in the brutal treatment of the Rohingya and Phuketwan's part in its exposure.

WATCH How Trafficking Works
Phuketwan Investigative reporter Chutima Sidasathian says of traficking in 2014: ''It's worse and worse, day by day. Nobody cares''.

LISTEN The Rohingya Solution
A tragedy almost beyond words has been unfolding in Thailand, where a human smuggling network is thriving with the full knowledge of some corrupt law enforcement officers. Alan Morison of Phuketwan talks to Australia's AM program.


Comments have been disabled for this article.


Ah, finally Sue gave you an award. *555
Well, Ian, great choice to put forward.

Posted by Lena on November 5, 2015 22:17


Hi Ed

Your son, Josh made a great acceptance speech on your behalf.

He mentioned, amongst other things, that you are very modest. Josh added that, whenever someone says that you are brave, your response is that Khun Chutima is the brave one.

Many of the 120 guests at the event had been following your trial and are full of admiration for you. I just hope the Thai prosecutor makes the sensible decision to drop any thoughts of appealing the decision to acquit you and Khun Chutima of the criminal defamation charges.

Ian Yarwood

Posted by Ian Yarwood on November 6, 2015 01:21


Congratulations Alan, well deserved recognition at a huge personal cost. Best of luck with the final(?) appeal by the Prosecutor.

Posted by Mike on November 6, 2015 05:54


Well done folks ! And well done for using the opportunity to highlight the Rohingya lady. Let's hope she gets the protection she needs.

Sounds like you have some very proud kids, Alan.

(And good on you, Ian !)

Posted by James on November 6, 2015 12:57


Congratulations on award!

The award is great both on its own and on awareness that it brings to the world of Australia about associated different problems from S.E.A. world - actually, Australia official world is lacking to some degree awareness of these issues as being evidenced by officialdom to avoid engaging on these topics.

And, for sure, Ian has done a tremendous job of relentlessly promoting both cause and quite heroic actors who move the cause, incl. PW team. Nowadays there are number of people in Australia, also in high political offices, who watch developments here, both for PW case and wider agenda, react on these development and as a result recruit more supporters, that finally should translate into action and winning the causes on the ground in the S.E.A.

Posted by Sue on November 6, 2015 14:00

Monday July 15, 2024
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