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Rising Concerns as Migrant Workers’ Nationality Verification Deadline Approaches

By Burma Partnership  •  February 23, 2010

Human rights and migrant worker organizations are concerned that over 1.3 million migrant workers—the majority of whom are Burmese—could be deported from Thailand if they fail to enter the nationality verification process before 28 February.

In January, the Thai Cabinet passed a resolution allowing for a two-year extension of work permits for the migrants provided that they were willing to submit biographical information to their home governments prior to 28 February. However, many Burmese migrants fear for their safety and of repercussions against family members in Burma if they officially register.

On 16 February, a coalition of migrant worker and labour organizations issued an open letter to Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva expressing their concern over the process and providing recommendations, including:

  • Extending the 28 February deadline for migrants to enter the national verification process and ending threats of mass deportation.
  • Continuing negotiations between the Royal Thai Government and Burmese authorities, to remove unnecessary expenses, increase safety of migrants and encourage other migrants to enter the process.
  • Conducting awareness-raising about the process with migrants and employers.
  • Discussing permanent solutions for migrants who cannot enter into or complete the process.
  • Reopening registration to allow all migrants to enter the nationality verification process.

On 18 February, the UN Special Rapporteur on the Human Rights of Migrants issued a press release, highlighting the problems with the national verification process, especially for those “irregular migrants” who have not already entered into the process. Human Rights Watch and the Karen Human Rights Group each released reports yesterday documenting the human rights violations that migrant workers face in Thailand, and the risks of sending them back to their home countries.

See the latest on this issue.

The Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Thailand (FCCT) is hosting a panel discussion tomorrow, entitled “Two Million Migrants and a February 28 Deadline: Is Nationality Verification Really the Way Forward?”

When: 24 February @ 8pm

Where: FCCT
Penthouse, Maneeya Center Building
518/5 Ploenchit Road (connected to the BTS Skytrain Chitlom station)
Patumwan, Bangkok 10330

For more information, visit the FCCT’s website.

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