PATHUM THANI — In an effort to crackdown on undocumented immigrants, police in Pathum Thani have instructed migrant workers in a major market to wear wristbands indicating they have been properly registered.
Pol.Maj.Gen. Montri Yimyaem, commander of Pathum Thani Police, said that workers from neighboring countries who have registered with police will be required to wear the dark red wristbands in public places.
A foreign worker showing his registered bracelet at Talaad Tai in Pathum Thani, 22 April 2015.
The market, Talaad Tai, has at least 3,500 vendors and is a particularly "risky area," staffed by many unregistered foreign workers, Pol.Maj.Gen. Montri said during an inspection of the market today. Human traffickers are also known to be active in the vicinity.
"Talaad Tai is an area that has problems with human trafficking, uses of alien workforce, prostitution, and begging," Pol.Maj.Gen. Montri told reporters. "We are issuing the wristbands as a model for other areas that have alien workers to reduce crime in the area, and increase security for the people.”
Since dispatching a task force to regulate foreign workers in Talaad Tai on 4 April, police have arrested 171 Burmese, Cambodian, and Laotian nationals on charges related to illegal entry and working without permit in Thailand.
Nine Thai employers have also been arrested for hiring foreign workers without proper permits, while six others have been arrested for providing shelter to illegal migrant workers, said Pol.Maj.Gen. Ake Angsananond, deputy commander of the Royal Thai Police.
Police inspect migrant workers at Talaad Tai in Pathum Thani province, 22 April 2015.
"The commander of the Royal Thai Police has instructed us to take actions in issues about human trafficking and alien workforce," Pol.Maj.Gen. Ake said, "Those issues are considered important problems that must be solved urgently."
He added that any citizen who possesses information about human trafficking, forced labor, or prostitution in the Talaad Tai area should immediately contact police at the 24-hour hotline 1191.
The crackdown on Talaad Tai was prompted by junta chairman and Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha’s instructions earlier this month to eradicate prostitution, illegal immigration, begging, and narcotic sales at the market.
"Officials have been neglecting these problems, in areas around Talaad Tai, and even in the entire province of Pathum Thani," Gen. Prayuth said on 3 April. "I have already warned them of their potential punishment. I gave them a deadline: within the end of this month, there must not be any prostitution or begging, because they cause damage [to the society]."
There are over a million immigrants living and working in Thailand illegally, mostly from neighboring countries such as Myanmar, Laos, and Cambodia.
Due to their lack of legal protection, the immigrants are often vulnerable to exploitation and human trafficking.
Early this morning at 2am, a pick-up truck carrying Cambodian nationals crashed in the nearby province of Prachinburi, wounding at least ten passengers, according to police reports. The injured include women and children, police say.
Police officers in Prachinburi say they suspect the passengers entered the country illegally, as none of the Cambodians carried ID documents or work permits. Police are investigating the incident and looking for the driver, who fled the scene before officers arrived.