11 July 2024

Secretary-General of the Child Protection Foundation, Montri Sinthaweechai, aka “Khru Yun”, acknowledged a human trafficking charge today (Friday), filed against him by Amphawa district police.

The long-time child rights advocate told the media that he feels very sorry, because he never expected to be charged with human trafficking as, throughout his life, he has devoted himself to protecting the rights of children.

Montri and his wife, who has been operating a resort, stand accused of using children from the child care centre to work at the resort. They were charged with assault and illegal use of child labour last month, after the Zendai Foundation filed a police complaint.

Montri said that people in Amphawa district of Samut Songkhram should be aware that his child care centre is not a detention camp and should have seen that the children were happy.

The centre was run by the foundation, but its licence has been revoked after the exposure of alleged wrongdoings.

Human rights lawyer Krisadang Nutcharat, who accompanied Montri to Amphawa police station to acknowledge the human trafficking charge this morning, said that the police could file any charge against his client, but they must adhere to the legal principle that every person accused of a crime is considered innocent until proven guilty.

“The human trafficking charge is horrifying, raising questions over how Khru Yun could have been appointed a senator, if he had he been involved in human trafficking,” said the lawyer, adding that he will fight the case all the way to the Supreme Court to prove the innocence of his client.

President of the foundation, Kaewsan Atibodhi, said that he has visited a resort, run by Montri’s wife, several times and had seen children from the foundation picking up fallen leaves, cleaning windows and carrying dishes, but they appeared to be happy because they got tips for the work.

He said he does not understand why Montri was charged with the illegal use of child labour and assaulting children. “Assaulting children and caning children, as punishment for violation of rules, are different in nature,” he said, adding that teachers who physically punish their students are disciplined if the punishment is excessive.

Kaewsan also said that he will appeal against the order to withdraw the foundation’s license.