Published on Tuesday, 22 July 2014 17 ELEVEN MEDIA
Police in the border town of Maw Taung, Tanintharyi Region, have begun arresting “agents” who help migrant workers cross into Thailand illegally.
Fifteen people have been arrested since the beginning of the month at the border trade post opposite the town of Singkhon in Thailand’s Prachuap Khiri Khan province, police said.
“We have been arresting those who attempt to enter Thailand illegally or send people there illegally since the beginning of July,” said Nay Myo Lat, an inspector at Maw Taung Police Station. He said those arrested had been working with Maw Taung residents to help migrants cross the border illegally.
He did not say how many of those arrested were “agents” or how many were attempting to enter Thailand illegally for work. However, 12 of those arrested hail from Rakhine State where chronic unemployment has sparked an exodus of young men and women in search of work. Two residents of Dawei were also arrested and one Yangon resident was arrested, Nay Myo Lat said.
The border trade post opened on May 8, 2013. According to a statement from the Thai government, there are plans to eventually turn it into an international border crossing. Currently, Myanmar issues temporary passes to those who cross the border, but Thai officials do not recognise their validity and require their holders to return to Myanmar by sunset, police said.
Nay Myo said the 15 suspects arrested face charges under Section 26 of the Law Relating to Overseas Employment. Under this section any unlicenced “agent” found guilty of facilitating overseas employment faces up to seven years in prison and a fine.
Nay Myo Lat also said that some Myanmar workers are crossing the border to work in Prachuap Khiri Khan during the day and returning to Myanmar at night. They live near the border trade post. The illegal migrants hail from other areas of the country and police are now keeping an eye on the border crossing to prevent them from entering Thailand illegally, he said.
Migrant workers from Myanmar are facing tighter restrictions at border crossings following a crackdown in Thailand on undocumented foreign workers by the country’s military, which seized power from a democratically elected government in May. The junta is attempting to register all migrant workers in the country, but migrant worker advocates say the process is not going smoothly. More than 150,000 Cambodians fled Thailand in June following reports of extortion and abuse by Thai police and troops.