BANGKOK, July 21 — The National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) will move urgently to suppress influential groups engaging in smuggling of migrant workers and the demanding of payment from them in exchange for working in Thailand, said army chief and NCPO leader Gen Prayuth Chan-ocha.
Gen Prayuth said during his pre-recorded weekly address telecast late on Friday that intelligence reports which he had obtained showed that influential groups demanded about Bt20,000 from each migrant worker originating from Thailand’s neighbouring countries.
After entering Thailand, each worker was have to pay between Bt8,000 to 10,000 to the influential groups, he said, adding that migrant workers woulf have to pay a fee in accordance to the law if they wished to register themselves and have legal worker status.
Those migrant workers who have not registered are all considered illegal and will not be entitled to receive welfare if they are taken advantages of by their employers, he said.
Violations of human rights have tarnished Thailand’s image in the eyes of the international community, and the problem has affected business entrepreneurs having prevailed in Thailand for a number of years in the past, Gen Prayuth stressed.
It is necessary for NCPO to step in and “lay out regulations” in order to ensure that migrant workers receive proper welfare and also to “prevent influential groups or employers from taking advantages of workers,” said Gen Prayuth.
This will help prevent abuses of human rights or using of child labour, he said.
Smuggling of migrant workers into Thailand has prevented the state from controlling problems including crimes, diseases, human trafficking and child labour, he said.
Several Thai governments in the past had made efforts in solving the problem, but the “situation had not improved.”
Gen Prayuth’s comments were made only hours before the United States issued its annual Trafficking in Persons report in which Washington downgraded Thailand to “Tier 3” after naming it on the Tier 2 warning list, and recommended the government take action.
“Thailand is a source, destination, and transit country for men, women, and children subjected to forced labour and sex trafficking,” said the report regarding Thailand.
Also, more than 100,000 migrant workers, mostly from Cambodia and Vietnam, have decided to return to their home countries following rumours that the NCPO would take legal action against them. NCPO has denied these rumours.