Thai human traffickers sentenced to 14 years in jail

EJF calls ruling an 'important precedent for future human trafficking cases' on fishing vessels in Thailand.

Thailand's Trang Provincial court has sentenced six defendants to 14 years behind bars for the human trafficking of migrant workers onto fishing vessels.

Environmental Justice Foundation (EJF) welcomed the news. Its Executive Director Steve Trent said the court's decision is "a vital step towards getting justice for the victims of the unspeakable human rights abuses witnessed within Thailand’s fishing sector."

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He called the ruling an "important precedent for future human trafficking cases in Thailand."

The six defendants sentenced in Trang included Sompon Jirotemontree, the former chairman of the Trang Fishing Association and owner of Boonlarp Fishing L.P., who ran his fishing vessels using forced and slave labour, and Somjit Srisawang, who helped supply Sompon’s business with trafficked labourers from Myanmar.

Sompon, Somjit and six others were arrested on Nov. 7, 2015, after EJF shared a detailed dossier of evidence of forced labor and exploitation with Thai authorities, including the testimonies of trafficked workers who had managed to escape their boats.

The Trang court’s verdict is the culmination of EJF’s three-year investigation into the use of slavery in Kantang’s seafood industry, which started in March 2013 with its first investigation.

As well as the 14 year sentences, the Boonlarp Fishing Company L.P. was also given a THB 600,000 (€16,022/$17,309) fine, while the victims were awarded THB 1.9 million (€50,736/$54,811) compensation.

Four other defendants were released.

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