Child trafficking conviction ‘should send strong signal’

, National 2 minutes, 27 seconds

BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN

A DEPUTY public prosecutor said yesterday he hoped the recent child trafficking for sexual exploitation case would raise awareness of the dangers of human trafficking and send a signal that such offences are not tolerated in the country.

Christopher Ng, who is also Head of the Special Duties Unit of the Attorney-General’s Chambers, hoped the case would raise awareness as a whole and send a strong sign that Brunei is not a hub for trafficking.

He was referring to the conviction of three Thai nationals three days ago for child trafficking. It was the first such case in the country under the Trafficking and Smuggling Order since it was passed into law in 2004.

“Trafficking is seen as a serious crime globally and Brunei is playing its part in the global community in tackling trafficking,” he said.

The case involved one female and two male Thai nationals who were all sentenced to four years’ imprisonment, hefty fines and the male defendants given strokes of the cane for their roles in trafficking a 17-year-old Thai girl into the country for the purpose of prostitution. The underaged victim was the niece of the female defendant.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Karen Tan, who was the prosecutor for the case alongside Deputy Public Prosecutor Vuina Song, said that aggravating factors were raised in the case.

“The case raised three aggravating factors which were that the victim was an (underaged) child, the victim was related to the traffickers and that it (trafficking) was transnational as they were smuggling a fellow Thai to a different country,” she said.

The case was also only the second ever trafficking conviction in Brunei Darussalam under the same Order.

The only other trafficking conviction happened in 2012 when another Thai national, Sudjai Sinthorn, was sentenced by Justice Dato Paduka Steven Chong at the High Court which set the binding precedent on the current case.

Tan said the country is committed to tackling the exploitation of women and children through trafficking not just in the country but across the border as well.

“Brunei is a signatory to the ASEAN Convention against Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children (ACTIP) which shows ASEAN’s commitment to tackling trafficking,” she said.

Tan said the law was designed to ensure that women and children in the country, who are more at risk of being exploited, are protected.

“The Brunei law against trafficking, which is the Trafficking and Smuggling Order 2004, provides for a specific offence of trafficking children under Section 5 of the Order,” she said.

“The section provides for a specific minimum penalty that is different from adult trafficking, to show the abhorrence where a child is a victim of trafficking because children are more vulnerable and therefore, requires more protection,” she said.

When approached to comment on the case, the Thai embassy declined, saying: “We are still in the process of consultation, and are not able to comment further on the case.”

The Brunei Times