THAILAND HAS stepped up its crackdown on online child pornography, leading to the recent arrest of six suspects and the blocking of more than 500 websites.
Deputy Tourist Police Commander Pol Maj-General Surachet Hakpal yesterday said that five suspects from three online child pornography networks had been arrested under warrants.
“Their accounts led to the arrest of another suspect,” he said.
The arrests were made in Samut Prakan, Surat Thani and Ubon Ratchathani provinces, he said.
Surachet said police learned from one suspect, identified only as Oh, 29, that the networks had sponsors and controlled several websites.
Police were tipped off by non-governmental organisations to carry out the crackdowns, he said, adding that over 500 child porn websites have since been blocked.
Anti-Trafficking in Persons Division (ATPD) chief Pol Maj-General Kornchai Klayklueng said porn websites were considered human trafficking crimes, and most of the offenders are programmers or experts in doctoring photos.
Kornchai said young boys were sometimes duped to masturbate on webcams by offenders who pretended to be women and the recorded clips were shown on the child-porn sites.
National Police Office’s top adviser Pol General Tamasak Wicharaya said that an emerging human trafficking method was to lure female and male youths to take indecent photos and video clips to sell via social media.
“We established the Thailand Internet Crimes against Children [TICAC] task force two years ago to tackle this trend and similar crimes,” he said.
The task force had already arrested many wrongdoers, he said, and most of them were Thais.
Tamasak, who heads the police force’s Children, Women, and Family Protection Centre, said he proposed upgrading TICAC into a division and setting up a digital forensic science division to fight online crimes, including child pornography.
“The centre now works closely with the 150-strong TICAC on digital investigation,” he said. The digital forensic science division will recruit 100 bachelor’s degree holders from within the police force and outside for computer, social media and telephone evidence gathering, he said.
Tamasak hoped recent successes – especially Thai authorities’ continuing measures to prevent and suppress human-trafficking crimes – would improve the country’s position from Tier 2.5 on the watch list to Tier 2 in the US Trafficking in Persons (TIP) Report 2018, to be released in June.
In a related development, Nakhon Phanom social development and human security official Apinya Chompoomas led police and administrative officials to inspect night entertainment venues in Muang district on Thursday night as part of efforts to prevent human trafficking crimes.
They gave a formal warning to a karaoke bar in Tambon Tha Khor that employed some girls under 18. The bar’s owner insisted the youths worked as dish-washing staff and not waitresses, while another beer and karaoke bar employed six Thai and seven Lao women with proper work permits. Apinya said the authorities have to be more vigilant now that human traffickers are using various techniques including abduction, and are luring foreign women into prostitution via marriage.