Hot! US Government Drops Thai Human Trafficking Case

Photo by Bob Jagendorf

The US Justice Department has dropped its human trafficking criminal case against Global Horizons Manpower Inc. involving Thai workers.

Called “the biggest human trafficking case in US history” the EEOC website reported that Thai agricultural workers for Global Horizons were forced to live in unhealthy conditions infested with rats and insects, with “dozens sleeping in the same room, many with no beds.”

On April 19 2011, the federal government delivered an EEOC class action lawsuit against the California-based labor contractor Global Horizons along with the farms in Hawaii and Washington State that hired Global Horizons for its services.

The EEOC sought back payment of the workers’ salaries and up to $30,000 in damages for each Thai laborer involved in the scheme.

The US government had originally alleged that the company promised hundreds of workers lucrative jobs then charged them with recruitment fees they had to work to pay off. The company was also charged with verbal threats, confiscating their passports, and threatening them with deportation if they complained about the conditions or threatened to inform authorities.

The government charged Global Horizons President Mordechai Orian, Pranee Tubchumpol, director of international relations, Shane Germann and Sam Wongsesanit, all of Global Horizons Manpower in the US. Thai labour recruiters Ratawan Chunharutai and Podjanee Sinchai of Thailand were also charged with engaging in conspiracy to commit forced labour, the FBI said.

According to the Bangkok Post, due a “further review of the evidence” the government has dropped the lawsuit and there will be no possibility the criminal charges will be renewed.   

The Hawaii news site Honolulu Civil Beat said Justice Department spokeswoman Nanda Chitre stated that a team of attorneys and agents determined that the government is unable to “prove the elements of the charged offenses beyond a reasonable doubt, the high standard applied in criminal prosecutions, and that proceeding with the prosecution no longer serves the public interest.”

And while the Thai laborers can go through the civil courts to try and recover losses and damages, the government will not be stepping in to deal with criminal charges.

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