Humanity Research Consultancy to Investigate Trafficking in Persons for Forced Criminality in the Thai Context

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April 5, 2024
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Humanity Research Consultancy (HRC) has begun a new project with the USAID Thailand Counter Trafficking in Persons (USAID Thailand CTIP) activity, implemented by Winrock International, to investigate responses to trafficking in persons (TIP) for forced criminality in Thailand.

In early 2023, campaigners in Thailand, Malaysia, and Indonesia lodged a formal complaint with the ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights, the region’s main human rights institution, about potentially thousands of victims of TIP for forced criminality in scam compounds. Thailand has been at the centre of this crime, serving as a source, transit, and destination country.

Thai citizens have been reported to end up in compounds in Cambodia, Laos, and Myanmar, working both in scam operations and online gambling. A reliable source within the Thai police disclosed that as of August 2022, approximately 1,000 Thai individuals were officially identified as TIP victims, having been transported and confined in Cambodia, while another revealed the actual number might be as high as 3,000. Following the recent crackdown in northern Myanmar, hundreds of Thai and Vietnamese citizens working in a scam compound in Laukkai were reported to have been evacuated in December 2023.

Survivors assisted by HRC have shared accounts of being relocated by their employers from Myanmar to Cambodia through Thailand, following China’s operations in Tachileik. Additionally, numerous victims were lured by employment opportunities within Thailand, subsequently falling prey to trafficking routes that pass through Mae Sot—a village near the Myanmar border town of Myawaddy, where the infamous “KK Park” area is situated. Nevertheless, the extent of Thailand’s and the involvement of Thai citizens in this crime remain unclear to the general public.

For this project, our team will employ a mixed-methods approach to thoroughly capture existing resources and actively engage with various stakeholders in Thailand. This will include open-source intelligence research, key informant interviews, and a data validation workshop. As the criminals are mainly Chinese-speaking, the investigation will be conducted in Chinese, along with Thai, English, and other relevant languages.

The HRC team will produce a 15-page briefing outlining the scale of the issue of human trafficking for forced criminality in Thailand in both English and Thai. The briefing will include an overview of the issue, an analysis of trafficking routes, criminal tactics, and victim profiles. It will provide the challenges and obstacles faced in addressing trafficking for forced criminality in Thailand and provide recommendations. Ultimately, the project aims to enhance understanding and develop effective strategies to combat human trafficking for forced criminality in Thailand.