Broker firm cleared of trafficking

Workers complained that the company sent them to the Middle East with incomplete information, and accused it of human trafficking.

A labour brokerage firm responsible for sending 61 workers to Dubai in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), and accused of defrauding them did not commit human trafficking, according to the Immigration Bureau.

Bureau deputy commissioner Itthipol Itthisaranachai said an initial investigation found the firm did not engage in human trafficking involving the 61 workers.

However, the bureau will forward the case to the Anti-Trafficking In Persons Division for further investigation.

The brokerage firm was accused by the workers of giving them false information about job prospects in the UAE. Following the complaint, the IB launched a probe to find out if the firm was also connected to a human trafficking ring.

The workers visited the bureau on Monday, led by Songkan Atchariyasap, chairman of the Network Against Threats to the Nation, Religion and Monarchy, to present evidence against the firm.

Workers gather at the Immigration Bureau to lodge a complaint accusing a job brokerage firm of providing false information about working in the United Arab Emirates. Many of them also complained they had not been paid. (Photo by Apichart Jinakul)

The evidence included a video clip, pictures and audio files allegedly produced by the firm advertising jobs in the UAE. The advertisements promised highly-paid jobs with accommodation. However, when the workers arrived in the UAE, they found the jobs failed to live up to what had been advertised.

They later returned to Thailand. Upon their arrival, the brokerage firm's staff were waiting to pick them up at the airport and allegedly threatened them to stay quiet about their experience. However, the staff could not take the workers away from the airport after the police intervened, according to Mr Songkan.

Mr Songkan said he had documents showing the brokerage firm's staff had tried to threaten the workers into signing papers to have their employment contracts in the UAE terminated without compensation. Some of the workers' passports were also seized by the company, he said.

Mr Songkan said the evidence should be enough for the authorities to proceed with charging the firm with fraud and other labour-related offences.

The workers also asked relevant authorities to go after their employers in the UAE who still owed them wages, according to Mr Songkan.

Pol Maj Gen Itthipol said the bureau had the power to investigate complaints related to human trafficking and illegal entry.

He said the bureau were not yet sure if charges would be pressed against the firm. The Labour Ministry is looking into the issue of unpaid wages.

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