Pattaya City, renowned for its vibrant tourism industry, has taken a strong stance against human trafficking and the exploitation of beggars. Acting on reports received, a comprehensive operation was initiated on June 21, 2023, with the involvement of key government officials and law enforcement agencies.
Mr. Wuttisak, the Deputy Mayor of Pattaya City, spearheaded the campaign by collaborating with Miss Nantaphak Pongsuk, Director of the Center for the Homeless at the Ministry of Social Development and Human Security in Chonburi Province. Joining their efforts were the dedicated staff members from the Sonthi Children’s Home, who were committed to protecting vulnerable individuals in the region.
To effectively tackle the issue at hand, Pol. Col. Thanaphong Phothi, the Superintendent of Pattaya City Police Station, was contacted for support. Subsequently, Pol. Lt. Col. Surachet Aneksri, the deputy superintendent of Pattaya Police Station, was instructed to mobilize over 60 officers, including tourist police, immigration police, and detective officers from the second region. They were deployed in front of Pattaya City Hall to carry out inspections and eradicate human trafficking activities, particularly those involving beggars and migrant children.
The task force was divided into three groups, strategically stationed at three focal points: Pattaya Beach, Soi Buakhao, and Walking Street in South Pattaya. During the initial inspection at Pattaya Beach, reporters observed a group of Thai individuals wearing coats, sitting in a line along the sidewalk, soliciting money from passing tourists. These beggars would respectfully raise their hands, seeking donations from sympathetic visitors. When encountering particularly generous tourists, they would accept money and place it in a collection can placed in front of them.
Moving to the second point of inspection, Soi Buakhao, officers encountered disabled individuals using crutches to navigate while begging for money. Additionally, a 42-year-old Vietnamese migrant woman was seen peddling flowers, accompanied by a 7-year-old girl. Prompted by suspicion, the woman was invited to Pattaya City Police Station for identity verification. During questioning, she admitted to engaging in the sale of roses from early evening until late at night, earning an estimated 300-500 baht per day. Her involvement in this activity had persisted for more than five months.
Finally, the operation proceeded to Walking Street, the primary tourist hotspot in Pattaya City, frequented by both Thai and foreign visitors. Here, officers encountered two individuals begging on the roadside. As a result, these individuals were detained and taken to the Pattaya City Police Station for further investigation.
Furthermore, the operation also revealed the presence of homeless people scattered across various locations in Pattaya. Some of these individuals formed groups, gathering to consume alcohol, while others displayed signs of mental distress, refusing to cooperate with the officers. In less central areas, such as in front of Wat Chai Mongkhon, Phra Aram Luang in South Pattaya, officers encountered a 34-year-old Cambodian woman, accompanied by a five-month-old child, begging on the footpath.
Authorities are now urging both Thai and foreign tourists traveling to the Pattaya area to actively participate in combating this exploitative business. They are advised not to support these groups by offering money. Instead, if any suspicious activity is witnessed, it is essential to promptly notify the social assistance center at the Ministry of Social Development and Human Security through the 24-hour hotline, 1300.
Pattaya City’s unwavering commitment to eradicating human trafficking and the exploitation of vulnerable individuals demonstrates the city’s determination to uphold its reputation as a safe and welcoming destination for visitors from around the world.