Category Archives: Migration Policy in Thailand

UPDATE – Chronology of Thai NCPO Immigration Policy

This chronology is current as of 31July 2014.  Please also see the new figures from the Thai Department of Labor regarding the numbers of migrant workers registered at each One Stop Service center across the country.
http://mekongmigration.org/add/?page_id=55#ff

NCPO continues to address migrant worker problem

July 29, 2014, at 1540hrs, at the Royal Army Club, Thewes, following the weekly meeting of National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) chaired by Gen. Prayuth Chan-ocha, Commander-in-Chief of the Royal Thai Army, in his capacity as the NCPO Chief, Capt. Dr. Yongyuth Mayalarp, M.D., civilian Spokesperson of the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO), and Ms. Patamaporn Ratanadilok Na Phuket, Mass Communication Officer (Professional Level), held a press conference. Gist as follows:

The meeting agreed that relaxation of measures to grant migrant workers (Myanmar, Laos, Cambodia) extra time to stay in Thailand for nationality verification should no longer be extended. Instead, the guidelines of committee on migrant workers policy should be followed. Migrant workers must report themselves at a one-stop registration service center located in each province to set up personal records, conduct health checkup, and issue working permit in order for them to temporarily stay on and work in Thailand until October 2014. This is to allow the process of passport issuance from their home country and status adjustment as legal labor by March 2015.

By: Royal Thai Government

TIP report harms, not helps, sex workers

The American government seems to enjoy the role of headmaster giving out grades to students.

The American headmaster has had 13 years to help Thai students improve its anti-human trafficking performance through the Trafficking in Persons (TIP) report, which ranks countries according to their efforts to end trafficking. The latest report card for Thailand, however, shows the problem is not getting any better. Worse, we are now ranked among the world’s worst performers.

The self-appointed American headmaster may blame his students, but wiser teachers would realise the TIP system simply does not work and has failed migrant workers in Thailand.

In its first TIP report card back in 2001, Thailand received a Grade 2, meaning “could do better”. Then in 2010, after eight years of cooperation with the USA anti-trafficking agenda and lots of money spent on anti-trafficking projects, Thailand was dropped to Grade 2.5.

Now in 2014, after millions of dollars and another four years of USA policy, human trafficking problems remain unchanged and Thailand has been dumped to Grade 3 by its headmaster.

America may need to ask this question: If you do something the exact same way every year for 13 years and things stay the same, or get worse, isn’t it time to change the school of thought?

The International Labour Organisation (ILO) has a new strategic plan (2015-2020) with a focus on promoting decent work for all, especially ending forced labour and unacceptable working conditions for everyone. In short, it is going beyond an emphasis on trafficking victims.

The ILO, which has no particular country bias, is much better placed to monitor and guide international labour standards than a single country like America.

Despite good intentions, the TIP process and anti-trafficking law end up harming poor people who need work.

A Grade 3 means the US can stop or reduce aid to and trade with Thailand. We have not heard of any strategy or plan to assist workers who have lost their livelihoods from anti-trafficking crackdowns.

Trafficking is loosely defined as playing a role in the movement of people to benefit from the exploitation of their labour. In practice for the past 13 years, the enforcement of anti-trafficking laws has been limited to conducting raids and apprehending migrant workers in seafood factories and entertainment venues.

Migrant workers need to work to support themselves and their families. The implementation of anti-trafficking laws through crackdowns has, in effect, made providing for their family a criminal activity under the law and bilateral agreements with the USA.

It must be pointed out that labour standards and quality of life for migrant workers have not been improved by the American anti-trafficking policy; instead, it is an obstacle.

Workers should be able to address issues of unfair wages, dangerous work practices and working conditions. The anti–trafficking law hinders this process. Many migrant workers refuse to demand their rights due to the threat of “rescue and deportation” as trafficking victims.

The budget spent on anti-trafficking is substantial. In 2005, the American government awarded $95 million (3 billion baht) to 266 anti-trafficking projects, including seven in Thailand. Spending has increased since then.

Yet all this money has not resulted in better human rights or labour conditions for workers. In fact, we can argue that life has become harder, more dangerous and more expensive.

For example, Thai workers who want to work overseas have to pay much higher fees. Many are forced to borrow from loan sharks to meet the higher costs.

Migrant workers found they need to be assisted by someone in authority, or with influence, to move and find work. This need is often exploited, feeding the culture of corruption and exploitation.

In April 2008, 54 migrant workers from Myanmar suffocated and died while attempting to travel undetected in an unventilated container truck in Ranong.

In 2012, Empower released a report outlining the negative impacts of the anti-trafficking law on the lives of migrant sex workers and their families. Based on real-life experiences, it is an in-depth community research study that provides details and examples of widespread abuses.

For starters, American anti-trafficking money is attractive. Since the police already know the entertainment industry, they use entrapment to arrest sex workers. This is abuse in itself, according to the National Human Rights Commission.

To fulfill their crackdown homework under American anti-trafficking policy, police pretend to be customers, even using sex workers’ service first, before making arrests. It is accurate to say that rape is part of police work under this anti-trafficking policy.

Initially, the American anti-trafficking agenda focused on migrant sex workers who were labelled as victims but treated as criminals. Photos of raids — men in uniforms standing over women who are crouching, covering their faces, or with their eyes blacked out — are common in the media. These iconic images accompany almost every story on the crime of prostitution.

Over the past decade, the headlines might have changed but the image used is still the same. So is the situation of human and labour rights in the entertainment industry.

Now that the focus has shifted to workers in the seafood industry, another typical image that has emerged is that of migrant workers on fishing boats or women and children peeling shrimps. Will this image stay for another decade along with a similar lack of improvement in their work conditions?

Last year, Empower ran a project supported by the US embassy in Thailand to train sex workers in human rights and paralegal skills.

This project informed sex workers that even if they are suspected of breaking the law or are witnesses to the crime of human trafficking, they still have many rights. For example, they are entitled to have a translator, to contact their families or a trusted person. They also must be provided with a lawyer and other basic requirements, such as food, clothing and health care while in custody.

There are protections and punishments under each law and the overall principle is that if someone is not guilty, they must be released. However, the experience of migrants under current anti-trafficking practices is not one of protection and assistance according to the law. Under the anti-trafficking framework, migrants have been frequently kept in custody longer than any law prescribes.

Frequently there is help with translation. It is also common to establish migrant sex workers’ ages as minors by examining their teeth and/or by X-ray. These methods are often inaccurate, leading to further violations of human rights and prolonged custody. As witnesses, they are kept in custody and not cared for or compensated as they should be under the Witness Protection Act.

The Suppression of Human Trafficking Act 2008 actually offers much protection and assistance. However, there has been no full report on how these obligations are met, or full disclosure of budget and spending by the Ministry of Social Development and Human Security.

By overlooking the situation migrant sex workers face after police crackdowns, the American government comes across as indifferent to their rights. Maybe they just don’t care, and the number of “victims” arrested are merely used to show that someone is doing something to stop the criminals.

The US likes to be seen as a champion of human rights, equality and justice. But their TIP process and anti-trafficking agenda undermines these noble ideals.

All people need is to be able to work in safe and fair conditions. What we should aim for is the improvement of workplaces and labour rights for all workers, including sex workers, rather than following the American anti-trafficking agenda, which has failed the very people it sets out to help.
By: Chantawipa Apisuk, Bangkok Post

ยอด จดทะเบียนแรงงานต่างด้าวทั่วประเทศ 26 มิ.ย. – 28 ก.ค.57

สรุปยอดรวมการลงทะเบียนแรงงานต่างด้าว ณ ศูนย์บริการจดทะเบียนแรงงานต่างด้าว (One Stop Service : OSS) ทั่วประเทศ จนถึงวันที่ 28 ก.ค.57 รวมทั้งสิ้น 378,444 คน

ข้อมูลจากฝ่ายสารสนเทศแรงงานต่างด้าว ระบุตัวเลขการขึ้นทะเบียนแรงงานต่างด้าวศูนย์เบ็ดเสร็จ (One Stop Service : OSS) ว่าข้อมูลจากศูนย์จดทะเบียนแรงงานต่างด้าวของ 4 ศูนย์จังหวัดชายแดน ได้แก่ สระแก้วจันทบุรี ตราด และสุรินทร์ (26 มิ.ย.-28 ก.ค.57) มีนายจ้างจำนวน 6,204 ราย แรงงานต่างด้าวสัญชาติกัมพูชาจำนวน 51,564 คน , สำหรับศูนย์สมุทรสาคร และอีก 7 จังหวัดได้แก่ ฉะเชิงเทรา ชลบุรี พระนครศรีอยุธยา ระยอง สงขลา สุมทรปราการ และสุราษฎร์ธานี (30 มิ.ย.-28 ก.ค.57) มีนายจ้างจำนวน 27,308 ราย แยกเป็น แรงงานต่างด้าวสัญชาติเมียนมาร์จำนวน 75,306 คน สัญชาติกัมพูชาจำนวน 80,010 คน และสัญชาติลาวจำนวน 24,337 คน รวมยอดจดทะเบียนทั้งสิ้น 179,653 คน , สำหรับศูนย์กรุงเทพมหานคร รวม 6 ศูนย์ (15 ก.ค.-28 ก.ค.57) มีนายจ้างจำนวน 20,812 ราย จำแนกเป็นแรงงานต่างด้าวสัญชาติเมียนมาร์จำนวน 32,414 คน, สัญชาติกัมพูชาจำนวน 44,066 คน ,สัญชาติลาว 24,995 คน รวมจดทะเบียนทั้งสิ้น 101,475 คน และศูนย์ฯ 15 จังหวัดชายทะเล (22 ก.ค.-28 ก.ค.57) มีนายจ้างจำนวน 8,461 ราย จำแนกเป็นแรงงานต่างด้าวสัญชาติเมียนมาร์จำนวน 29,592 คน , สัญชาติกัมพูชาจำนวน 10,117 คน และสัญชาติลาวจำนวน 6,043 คน รวมจดทะเบียนทั้งสิ้น 45,752 คน

สรุปข้อมูลภาพรวม จนถึงวันที่ 28 กรกฎาคม 2557 มีแรงงานต่างด้าว 3 สัญชาติ มารับบริการจดทะเบียนทั่วประเทศรวม 378,444 คน จำแนกเป็นแรงงานสัญชาติเมียนมาร์ จำนวน 137,312 คน สัญชาติกัมพูชา จำนวน 185,757 คน และสัญชาติลาว จำนวน 55,375 คน

ทั้งนี้ สำหรับการเปิดศูนย์บริการจดทะเบียนแรงงานต่างด้าวแบบเบ็ดเสร็จ (One Stop Service : OSS)ตามนโยบายของ คณะรักษาความสงบแห่งชาติเป็นการแก้ไขปัญหาการขาดเเคลนแรงงาน นำแรงงานเข้าสู่ระบบเพื่อแก้ไขปัญหาการขาดเเคลนแรงงานและให้การคุ้มครองดูแล เเรงงานต่างด้าวตามหลักกฎหมายและสิทธิมนุษยชนและเป็นการลดปัญหาการค้ามนุษย์

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กลุ่มงานเผยแพร่ประชาสัมพันธ์

ข้อมูลจาก : ฝ่ายสารสนเทศแรงงานต่างด้าว
สุนิสา กล่ำฟอง ข่าว/
29 กรกฎาคม 2557

Burmese in Chiang Mai Fear Uncertain Future Under Junta Rule

CHIANG MAI — Burmese migrants in Chiang Mai are bracing for an uncertain future as Thailand’s military junta pushes forward with new policies aimed at revamping the country’s migrant worker system.

“Sometimes I worry, even though I have documents” a 22-year-old restaurant worker from Burma’s Shan State told Khaosod English. “The police would like to make money, they find fault every time.”

While the mass exodus of more than 225,000 Cambodian migrants from Thailand attracted headlines last month, the similar plight of Burmese migrant workers has received less attention.

Since early June, police in Chiang Mai have raided a number of Burmese neighborhoods, as well as markets, construction sites and other workplaces suspected of utilizing migrant labor.

Many migrants, including registered workers, returned to Burma in fear of a crackdown by Thailand’s new military regime, said Sai Hseng Ya, chair of the Shan Literature and Culture Society in Chiang Mai.

Rumors continue to circulate of more arrests in and around Chiang Mai, further fuelling anxiety among the migrant community.

“There is still a crackdown in some areas,” said a Shan teacher, who preferred to remain anonymous, as did the majority of migrants interviewed for this article. “Many migrant workers are still worried.”

New policies bring hope and fear 

While the military junta’s National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) has recently opened several “One Stop Service” Centres around Thailand to help migrant workers obtain temporary work permits, no such centres have been opened in Chiang Mai.

As a result, a window for brokers in the north to take advantage of migrant workers remains open.

One Shan student in Chiang Mai found this out the hard way.

“This morning one of the young students told me she’d lost some money,” a Shan teacher told Khaosod English. “She went to a company and paid 3,000 baht [for identification documents], but after that, when she tried to contact them, this person [at the company] had disappeared. The police don’t take action for this kind of thing.”

According to Brahm Press, the director of the MAP Foundation, the NCPO’s move to register migrants is a positive development, but only a short term fix. The permits acquired at the One Stop Centres only give migrants two months before they must apply for more permanent documents.

“Migrants need stability, and this does not provide it,” Mr. Press said.

The NCPO has also established Special Economic Zones (SEZs) along Thailand’s borders, ostensibly to promote trade and investment. However, some fear that the boons to Thai businesses will come at the expense of migrant workers.

Mr. Press believes the zones will enable employers to “evade standard labor laws, notably by paying lower wages and keeping migrants in insecure and uncertain situations.”

The chairman of the NCPO, Gen Prayuth Chan-ocha, said himself on 30 May that “[the SEZs] could help prevent illegal migrants from crossing into inner provinces of Thailand, thereby giving more work opportunities to Thai nationals.”

Nowhere to turn 

Thailand’s foreign labor policies have been dogged by corruption for years, forcing migrant workers to adapt to a broken system in which they must pay officials, employers, or unscrupulous brokers offering shady promises to avoid arrest.

Kanchana Di-ut of the MAP Foundation says that Thai officials often maintain cosy relationships with brokers, blurring the distinction between official and unofficial processes.

Reports of detained migrant workers in Chiang Mai who were forced to pay a fee for their release has also led to speculation that police officers are using the recent raids as an opportunity for quick cash.

According to migrant rights activist Andy Hall, police have “arrested people that were irregular but as usual they didn’t deport the workers. In general, they just extorted money from them and then let them go.”

The climate of fear among migrant workers in Chiang Mai is fueled in part by a lack of accurate and timely information on migrant policy available in Shan or Burmese languages. They are forced to rely on Thai language TV news, which they may not understand, unofficial sources on the internet, or simply hearsay to learn about the policy developments that affect their status.

After the military coup, the MAP Foundation’s Shan-language radio station Seang Htem Heng Mai, which broadcasts information on migrant policy, was forced off the air like scores of other community radio stations across the country.

The vulnerability of Burmese migrant workers in Thailand is further compounded by the inaction and inattentiveness of the Burmese government.

The Burmese Ambassador to Thailand Win Maung told The Irrawaddy last month that he hadn’t heard of “any mass arrests of Burmese migrant workers.” His declaration came despite numerous media reports detailing the arrest of Burmese migrant workers during raids in Chiang Mai, Bangkok, Mahachai, and Mae Sot.

“We cannot rely on them,” said Nang Hseng Moon of the Shan Literature and Culture Society. “Other countries are very active, countries like the Philippines or Indonesia, but Burma is not. There is no support from the [Burmese] government.”

For many Burmese migrant workers, their desire to live and work in Thailand is not based on purely economic considerations, but also on concerns for their safety and security back in Burma. The recent crackdowns on migrant workers in Thailand have caused many to grapple with a familiar sense of unease.

“When they were in Burma, they were afraid all the time” said Nang Hseng Moon. “When they arrive here, they see the [military] uniform and they are afraid again.”

With armed conflict ongoing in parts of Shan State, the prospect of returning home is not an appealing option either. However, the overwhelming majority of migrant workers interviewed by Khaosod English aspired to return to Burma in the near future.

For a young Burmese restaurant worker, his desire to eventually return home was clear, but only on one condition: “when we have democracy.”

By: David Hopkins, Khaosod

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