Bangkok-The fight against modern-day slavery – a major human security problem inAsia- has received a big boost after a Thai criminal court sentenced a Cambodian human trafficker to 85 years in jail. More than 20 government and non-government organizstions in three countries,Thailand,CambodiaandMalaysia, collaborated to furnish evidence against the defendant.
Kunthea, a 35-year-oldCambodian, was found guilty on March 11 of luring eight underage girls in 2001 fromCambodia, viaThailand, toMalaysia, where they were forced into prostitution at karaoke bars.
The key to her successful prosecution was the willingness of the victims to come to court and testify against the accused – something that rarelyhappened in the past. The prosecution’s case was also helped by the collaboration between all parties under recently established laws and MoUs.
The United Nations Inter-agency Project on Human Trafficking in the Greater Mekong Subregion said in a statement: “Thailand and Cambodia signed a Memorandum of Understanding on Trafficking in May 2003, and this case represents a stunning success in implementation.
“The case required the authority and expertise of the Royal Thai Police, the Cambodian Minister, the Attorney-General’s Office, Cambodian and Thai NGOs, staff from the Ministry of Social Development and Human Security, and Ban Kredtrakarn (a protection and development centre inBangkok) as well as the victims.”
The authorities around the region have long faced difficulties intrying to curb human trafficking for forced labour and sexual exploitation due thecomplicated and amorphous nature of the business. Syndicates often pay off corrupt minor government and police officials to remain in the highly lucrative business.
* 85 years in jail for human trafficker (The Straits Times, March 14)