Category Archives: Arrest, Detention and Deportation

Government pushes to document all migrants

The government has vowed to continue its push for the remaining 1.34 million undocumented migrant workers to have their nationalities verified by 2022, Defence Ministry spokesman Kongcheep Tantrawanit says.

Maj Gen Kongcheep said that legalisation of migrant workers is still under way to achieve the government’s goal of reducing the number of illegal migrants from a million to zero by 2022.

“We need to deal with the migrant worker problems and reform the whole system relating to migrant workers’ livelihoods because this is a security burden on our country,” Maj Gen Kongcheep told the media Wednesday at Government House.

At present, there are an estimated 2.63 million migrant workers residing nationwide.

Of the 2.63 million migrant workers, only 1.29 million of them are already legal and are successfully continuing their work in Thailand.

Of the remaining 1.34 million illegal migrant workers, 146,000 have worked in the fish processing and marine fisheries industries, while the rest work in other sectors. Most of them are working under the government’s relief measure with temporary work permits.

Regarding the zoning of migrant workers’ residences, Maj Gen Kongcheep said he expected the zoning in 13 provinces to be completed only by this year.

Under the Labour Ministry’s draft executive decree on the management of migrant workers, employees are required to provide accommodation for migrant workers in their areas or in areas designated by provincial officials. Employers will also be required to pay levies which will be used to pay for other costs such as utilities, and medical payments for migrant workers who are not covered by health insurance or social security.

Maj Gen Kongcheep said the zoning will ensure better health conditions, support crackdowns on criminal activities, and it is also hoped that this will help lift a ban on imported products from Thailand which is believed to be involved in labour abuse and human trafficking.

The residential zoning will be carried out initially in Samut Sakhon and Rayong provinces where about 300,000 and 60,000 migrant workers live and work respectively.

In addition to residential control, the zoning plan will expand to 11 more provinces where huge numbers of more than 50,000 migrant workers are staying.

They are Pathum Thani, Chon Buri, Samut Prakan, Tak, Chiang Mai, Nakhon Pathom, Nonthaburi, Phuket, Songkhla, Rayong and Surat Thani.

Employers would be required to arrange accommodation for their migrant employees within the state-specified zones, he said.

Maj Gen Kongcheep also said that the government has issued measures for two types of illegal workers.

Fishery workers whose deportation reprieves expire on Nov 1 will need to leave the country within 15 days.

Workers in other job types who have won deportation reprieves lasting eight years will be issued smart cards at the post-arrival and reintegration centres for migrant workers in each province in March. A computer application will also be made to check information on migrant workers, Maj Gen Kongcheep said.

On Feb 23 last year, the cabinet approved measures proposed by the Labour Ministry to relax regulations on migrant workers holding a temporary work permit.

Under the cabinet resolution, migrant workers who have yet to pass the nationality verification process and hold temporary work permits, known as pink cards, would be allowed to live and work in Thailand for a maximum of two years, or no later than March 31, 2018, after their work permits expired on March 31 last year.


By: Prangthong Jitharoenkul, Bangkok Post

Published on: 9 February 2017

Cambodia speeds up issuance of passports

Cambodian authorities are speeding up efforts to issue passports to all its nationals working in Thailand who pass the nationality verification process to prevent them from being deported after their work permits expire, Labour Ministry spokesman Ananchai Uthaipatanacheep said.

Speaking to the media yesterday, Mr Ananchai said Cambodian authorities are working to issue passports and other travel documents to more than 240,000 Cambodian workers in Thailand.

He was quoting figures provided by Hun Manet, vice-chairman of the Committee for Providing Legalisation to Cambodian Workers.

Cambodia expects to issue all the passports by June which should allow Cambodian workers to continue working in Thailand legally, Mr Ananchai added.

Hun Manet together with Cambodian officials met Labour Minister Sirichai Distakul in Thailand on Monday to talk about cooperation between Thai and Cambodian authorities in conducting the nationality verification process for Cambodian workers. Once the workers have obtained passports, they can apply for a visa and a work permit, allowing them to stay two more years in Thailand, Mr Ananchai said.

He said Hun Manet urged Thai and Cambodian officials to work together on the nationality verification process.

Workers who hold pink cards are allowed to work in Thailand temporarily. But they are required to pass a nationality verification process to extend their work period.

Migrants who fail to go through the process will be arrested and deported back to their home countries.

Migrants in the marine fisheries industry are allowed to work in Thailand until November, while work permits for those in general occupations run out on March 31, 2018, according to Mr Ananchai.

After the verification deadline this year, migrant workers who want to work in Thailand will be assessed according to the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on migrant workers, which limits the number of labourers.

Thailand has an MoU with Myanmar, Cambodia and Laos to allow migrant workers to work in Thailand legally.


By: Penchan Charoensuthipan, Bangkok Post

Published on: 8 February 2017

Myanmar workers arrested, extorted: activists

Myanmar migrant workers seen at a Thai police lock-up after being accused of illegal gambling. Photo: Supplied

About 21 Myanmar migrant workers at a tuna factory in Maharchaing, Thailand, were arrested by police after being accused of illegal gambling, said the Thailand-based Aid Alliance Committee (AAC) for Myanmar migrants yesterday.

Ko Ye Min, a member of the AAC, told The Myanmar Times that all the workers were sent to the police lock-up, where they were asked to pay Thai baht 3000 (about US$85) for their release.

He claimed that Myanmar migrants are often singled out by Thai authorities and become targets for extortion.

“There is a kind of police force in Thailand that watches Myanmar migrants who play football, and uses this as a reason to arrest them. Now, our migrants are afraid of playing football in Thailand,” he said.

Under Thai law, any form of monetary compensation in sports is deemed to be gambling, which other than betting on horse races or the government-sponsored Thai lottery, is prohibited.

The Myanmar Times could not reach Myanmar embassy officials in Thailand for their comments yesterday.


By: Zaw Zaw Htwe, Myanmar Times

Published on: 7 February 2017

Government issues new migrant worker threat (Nationality verification process steps up)

Migrant workers are required to register at both Labour Minister and (above) immigration offices least annually. The Labour Ministry says all migrants must have their nationalities verified by their home countries at their next registration date in 2017, or they will be deported. (Bangkok Post file photo)


The Labour Ministry has urged migrant workers to have their nationalities verified by their respective countries or risk being deported after their work permits expire this year.

Ananchai Uthaipattanacheep, the ministry spokeman, said the decision was in line with a recent cabinet resolution to enforce regulations agreed upon in a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with neighbouring countries that states migrants must be verified by their home countries.
The cabinet resolution is part of the government’s efforts to prevent forced labour and human trafficking, while those convicted of such offences will face harsher penalties under the 2017 Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act.
Thailand has an MoU on labour cooperation with Myanmar, Cambodia and Laos.

Current migrant workers are required to pass a nationality verification process conducted by Thai officials, to extend their work period in the country.

Migrants who fails to report to officials during the verification period will be arrested and deported to their home countries.

Mr Ananchai said the work permits of migrants in the marine fisheries industry expired on Jan 24, while those in the processed fishery product industry run out on Feb 22.

However, they will be allowed be to stay in Thailand until Nov 1. Meanwhile, permits of the remaining migrants in all other industries will expire on March 31.

Labour Minister Sirichai Distakul urged Thai employers to have their migrant workers undergo the nationality verification process before the end of the current “lenient period”.

Meanwhile, Singhadet Chu-umnart, director-general of the Employment Department (DOE), said Gen Sirichai ordered the department to import migrant labourers from other sources to replace those who failed to undergo the verification process.

Nationality-verified workers, on the other hand, will be allowed to work in the kingdom for more than two years and be entitled to benefits, including the welfare equivalent to what Thais are eligible for, under Thai labour law, he said.

The nationality verification process has struggled to get a foothold among employers since 2014.

Of 1.3 million migrant workers nationwide, only 897,828 have attended the verification process.

According to the DOE, Myanmar authorities are planning to open nationality verification centres: two in Sumut Sakhon’s Muang district, one each in Samut Prakan’s Muang district, Chiang Rai’s Mae Sai district, Chiang Rai’s Mae Sai district, Tak’s Mae Sot district, and Ranong’s Muang district.

However, more details will be known after Myanmar authorities have firmed up the plans.

As for Cambodian workers, their authorities will process and issue them passports and other travel documents once they have completed the nationality verification process. A batch of documents has already  been provided to many Cambodian labourers.

The government is working with Laos to ensure its workers can have their nationality verified as soon as possible.

By: Penchan Chareonsuthipan, Bangkok Post

Published on: 30 January 2017

Nearly 50,000 Cambodians expelled from Thailand in 2016

Cambodian migrant workers queue at the Thai border. (Photo supplied by the Khmer Times)

PHNOM PENH – Nearly 50,000 Cambodians who left to work in Thailand were sent home through the Poipet International Border Checkpoint last year because they were working illegally, according to Banteay Meanchey provincial hall.

The figures were included in a national police report.

The report said the provincial hall held its 2016 annual meeting on Monday and revealed that in 2016, 49,987 Cambodians – 16,261 of them women and 4,264 children – were returned to Cambodia in 1,159 vans through the Poipet border gate because of their illegal status.

Provincial governor Suon Bava said there was nothing wrong with going to work in a foreign country as long as it was done properly through official channels, according to Khmer Times.

“Migrating for work is a normal thing. It is part of the rights and freedom ensured by the government, but what is important is the legality of the migration,” he said.

“We can’t say if we will reduce the number of migrant workers because there are many benefits in migrating. They can learn skills and knowledge and also have more money to run a business to support their own family when they are back.”

Mr Bava said officials were trying to reduce illegal migration through restrictions at all border gates in Banteay Meanchey province, as instructed by Interior Minister Sar Kheng.

Soum Chankea, a provincial coordinator for rights group Adhoc, said that unemployment and the low   prices for agricultural products inside Cambodia encouraged more people to seek work in Thailand.

“Because there is no market for their produce and there are no jobs for them inside the country, that’s why we can see many Cambodians migrating to work in Thailand,” he said.

By: Khmer Times, Bangkok Post

Published on: 25 January 2017

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