Rights body calls on govt to scrap aliens policy, Nation Thailand

The Abhisit Vejjajiva administration’s policy to set up a special centre to control one million illegal alien workers might lead to corruption, extortion and human right violations, the Human Rights and Development Foundation (HRDF) warned yesterday. They urged the policy be scrapped.

In a statement issued yesterday, the HRDF said that Abhisit had ordered on June 2 establishment of the special centre with five regional taskforces to work with local police and administrative officials in the crackdown on illegal aliens.

The order reportedly focused on 300,000 immigrant workers who became illegal when they failed to renew their working permits and submit nationality verification requests by February 28.

HRDF warned the policy might lead to severe human right violations on about one million illegal immigrant workers in Thailand, especially those from Burma’s ethnic minority groups.

They said the past had shown labour crackdowns led to arrests and imprisonment of workers, coercion and extortion by corrupt officials, as well as violence and death. They said the policy was inappropriate and not in line with the economy as well as failing to promote national security.

HRDF therefore had urged the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Immigrant Human Rights to ask for clarification from the Thai government about the policy’s legitimacy according to international laws. HRDF said the policy was a disappointment because Thailand became a new member of the United Nations Human Rights Council in May and, during its campaign for votes, Thailand had promised to respect the rights of minority people and immigrant workers.

HRDF has proposed the Thai government cancel the policy and open a new round of registration for some 1.4 million alien workers who were unregistered and currently working in Thailand. They also urged the Labour Ministry to seriously review methods, in order to achieve its goal of promoting legal worker imports from neighbouring countries, to be in line with basic human rights and prevent the extortion of workers. They also wanted the Labour Ministry to supervise organisations providing services for the nationality verification process, as they still demanded expensive fees.

The Thai government should seek long-term measures to tackle the issue of immigrant workers who couldn’t be submitted before the nationality verification process, they added.


Worker verification

– Only 90,000 migrant workers have successfully passed the nationality verification process;

– Some 800,000 migrant workers have filed nationality verification requests and have until February 28, 2012 to complete the procedure;

– Some 300,000 immigrant workers failed to renew their work permits and submit nationality verification requests by February 28, 2010, and are now considered illegal;

– It is estimated that about 1 million migrant workers have not entered the verification process because they are unregistered.

By The Nation
Published on June 22, 2010