The Human Rights and Development Foundation (HRDF) has been providing legal representation to Air, an ethnic Karen girl who has filed a case against her former employers for inflicting on her cruel treatment and enslavement. On 30 June 2014, around 2pm, the Kampaeng Phet Provincial Court read a verdict for the case filed by Air’s custodian, Mrs. Mo Wateng, on her behalf against Mr. Natee Taeng-on and Miss Rattanakorn Piyaworatham, her employers. The civil suit for damages was filed as it was alleged that while serving as housemaid for the two employers, the girl had been subjected to egregious physical abuse.
The Court ordered the two defendants to collectively award the plaintiff the following;
Part I: Regarding the pecuniary damages and according to Section 444 of the Civil and Commercial Code concerning reimbursement of the expenses and damages for total or partial disability to work for the present as well as for the future, the Court deemed that it fits the arising circumstances and gravity of the charges to award the damages including the following;
1. Incurred medical treatment: 303,233 baht as per the receipts issued by the Ramathibodi Hospital
2. Future medical treatment: 800,000 baht
3. Damages for disability to work of at least 50 years: 1,000,000 baht
Part II: Regarding the non-pecuniary damages and according to Section 446 of the Civil and Commercial Code including agonies during the ailment, the loss of ability to reproduce, and the loss of beauty for Girl Air, for which, the plaintiff is entitled to request regardless of whether it is concerned with the livelihood of the plaintiff or not, it shall include;
1. Agonies incurred during the ailment: 600,000 baht
2. A loss of ability to reproduce: 700,000 baht
3. A loss of beauty for the plaintiff: 700,000 baht
In addition, the Court ordered the defendants to provide 500,000 baht to cover transportation costs of the plaintiff to seek treatment from the Ramathibodi Hospital. In total, the two defendants are required to provide 4,603,233 baht or 141,908.7 USD as damages.
However, the exact amount to be received by the damaged parties shall be dependent on further executions in order to acquire assets belonging to the employers and to provide the compensation to the plaintiff as ruled by the Court.
The case began around 2009, when Air, a seven year old girl disappeared from the living quarter of her parents who were migrant workers from Burma and employed by Thai employers in the province of Kamphaeng Phet. The search effort by her parents came to no avail.
On 31 January 2013, Air successfully made an escape from the house and was assisted by some samaritans. She, then, received help and shelter from officers of the Kamphaeng Phet Children and Families shelter and other local agencies. According to Air, she was abducted by the former employers of her parents from the residence of her parents in the sugar cane plantation. Since then, she had been forced to serve as a housemaid in the house of Mr. Natee Taeng-on and Miss Rattanakorn Piyaworatham. During her time working with the two employers, she suffered abuses inflicted on her by them until she sustained grievous injuries including some wounds caused by her being poured with boiling water. The brute has also caused ligaments that make her unable to stretch her arms out and to bend her elbows. Officers of the Children’s and Family’s Home in Kamphaeng Phet has transferred her to Ramathibodi Hospital in Bangkok for further treatment.
More detail of the case filed by Air’s custodian, Mrs. Mo Wateng, on her behalf against Mr. Natee Taeng-on and Miss Rattanakorn Piyaworatham, her employers in a civil suit with the Kampaeng Phet Provincial Court can be found at http://hrdfoundation.org/?p=805 and http://hrdfoundation.org/?p=805&lang=en .
At present, the two employers are also the suspects in a separate criminal case as they are pressed with the accusation of committing bodily harm and thereby, causing the victim to receive grievous bodily harm, cruel treatment, deprivation of other’s liberties and as a result of which severe injuries have been inflicted on the person, deprivation of other’s liberties and as a result of which the person is forced to serve other persons or the perpetrator, enslaving a person or causing a person to be in a position similar to a slave, conspiring to bring forth a person or to deprive of liberties of the person younger than 15 years of age and as a result of which the person is inflicted with grievous bodily harm, taking away a child not yet 15 years of age from parents, and conspiring to conduct human trafficking. At present, the two employers are still at large after being granted bail by the police.
Ms. Nattarat Aroonmaharat, Coordinator of the Anti-labour trafficking, Human Rights and Development Foundation (HRDF), deems that the verdict underlies civil rights of a damaged party in a criminal offence including the right to be free from infringements on one’s body and freedom. Apart from being an offence against Criminal Procedure Code, the violations committed against Air can be persecuted as a human trafficking offence as Air has been a victim of unlawful exploitation including forced labour and enslavement and that Air is entitled to damages provided for by the 2008 Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act does not in any way deprive her of the right to be provided for with damages resulting from a civil suit.
For more information, please contact Ms. Orawan Wimolrangkharat, attorney, 088-289 1788 or Ms. Preeda hongshumnum, Assistant to Secretary General of HRDF, 089 459 0212