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13 girls rescued after raid on karaoke bar


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Provincial Police Region 5 officers joined forces with antihuman trafficking organisations to raid a karaoke bar in Chiang Mai's Muang district Wednesday and rescue 13 female workers, including three girls aged under 18.




Together with the Anti-Trafficking Coordination Unit Northern Thailand (Trafcord) and the Counter Human Trafficking Unit (CTU), police raided the "Mida" karaoke bar in Tambon Chang Pheuk at 12.30am and arrested bar manager and cashier Peerapat Mayer, 29, and three associates, Apha Thakhamma, 22, Songpong Mayer, 20, and Narongrit Chaiyawan, 38.

They also seized as evidence the bar's two account books, Bt2,500 in cash used in the police sting operation, another Bt3,760 in cash, one plastic coin worth Bt200 for a sex worker to trade for payment from the bar, and three motorcycles used to deliver the sex workers.


The four were charged with procuring sexual services, living on income from prostitution, and human trafficking and sent to the Chang Pheuk police station. The police raid followed reports that the bar, although having women over 18 as drinking company for guests, also offered sex services by underage girls at Bt800-Bt2,500 per time.


After an undercover official agreed to buy their services, he was told to wait at a nearby motel, where the four suspects brought some hilltribe girls aged 13-15. The police team then presented themselves and arrested the suspects. After searching a dorm and the bar, police took into custody 13 alleged sex workers, including the three girls aged under 18.


Police claim that initial investigations found the girls had been bought from their relatives in Chiang Rai's Mae Sai district and detained for prostitution in Chiang Mai.


Culture Ministry Inspector-General Preecha Kanthiya said many karaoke bars used legal loopholes and redundancy between the Culture Ministry's Film and Video Act 2008 and the Interior Ministry's Places of Service Act 1966 regarding karaoke bar licences.


He explained that if application was made to the Culture Ministry, the bar must not have prostitutes and alcoholic drinks - while those offering girls and drinks must apply to the much-stricter Interior Ministry. Preecha said there were 548 Bangkok karaoke bars and 6,674 bars upcountry holding licences from the Culture Ministry. He said at least 3,000 bars reportedly violated licence regulations and laws.


Preecha said some bars threatened to sue officials refusing to grant them licences. He said the Culture Ministry's licence issuing must be stricter - with follow-up checking to revoke law-violators' licences and fine them up to Bt200,000 in court.


Preecha also said discussion was needed on cutting licence applications from the Film and Video Act 2008, so that all karaoke bars could apply only to the Interior Ministry.


The Nation



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