Category Archives: Arrest, Detention and Deportation

Migrant registration weeds out 1,200 under-age workers

Many thought to be child labour

More than 1,200 of over 60,000 undocumented migrant workers have failed to pass an inspection of their working conditions, a prerequisite to giving them legal working status in Thailand, the Labour Ministry said Thursday.

The inspection, which also verifies they are employed as claimed, is the first step in the process of granting proper visas to several thousand foreign labourers from neighbouring countries who have been working in the country illegally.

Only 772,270 workers reported to authorities by Monday’s deadline as the government has extended a grace period for them to come forward to apply for the necessary permits.

Their actual number is believed to be in the millions, although many have reportedly returned to Cambodia and Myanmar already to escape possible punishment.

After the deadline, labour officials spent three days interviewing employers and checking the backgrounds of 63,515 employees.

Of these, 61,303 passed but 1,234 workers failed the test, with authorities claiming many were too young to be legally employed.

“The officials are not certain of their exact ages,” said Labour Minister Sirichai Distakul, adding the law prohibits the hiring of workers aged under 15.

Their employers were told to take the young workers to have their bone mass checked by doctors so their true ages can be verified.

Workers aged between 15 and 18 are permitted to perform only certain jobs to minimise the risk of workplace accidents, according to Thai law.

The children of migrant workers must return to their country if they do not have a “pink card” granted by the government for temporary stays in the country, Gen Sirichai said.

His ministry is considering extending the period for workplace inspections from 30 days while some of the more complicated cases are solved, he said.

The workers must have their nationalities verified to obtain Certificate of Identity papers, which are needed for visa applications.

If the candidate also passes a physical health exam and organises his or her health insurance, a work permit should be issued.

Myanmar authorities have set up six centres to verify worker’s nationalities. Two are in Samut Sakhon while Samut Prakan, Ranong, Tak’s Mae Sot district and Chiang Rai’s Mae Sai district all have one, said labour spokesman Ananchai Uthaiphatthanachip.

The authorities are mulling three more centres in Chiang Mai, Nakhon Sawan and Songkhla due to the high numbers of Myanmar workers in those provinces, he said.

Cambodia has prepared a similar centre at its embassy in Bangkok and plans to branch it out to Rayong and Songkhla, Mr Ananchai added.

All these steps are aimed at reducing the impact of an executive decree on the recruitment of undocumented alien labourers, recently approved by the National Legislative Assembly.

Although mindful of human trafficking, the government has agreed to suspend some sections of the law until Jan 1.

 

By: Penchan Charoensuthipan, Bangkok Post

Published on: 11 August, 2017

772,000 illegal workers seek registration

A migrant worker shows her passport while waiting for an interview to prove her employment at the Labour Ministry in Bangkok on Tuesday. (Photo by Pornprom Satrabhaya)

Employers sought registration for 772,270 undocumented migrant workers over the last two weeks and 58% of them were from Myanmar, according to the Labour Ministry.

Spokesman Ananchai Uthaipatanacheep said on Tuesday the migrant workers were reported by 193,918 employers, about 70% of them individuals and the rest juristic persons.

With Myanmar nationals making up the majority, Cambodians were the second most numerous group (28.86%) and then Lao nationals (12.67%).

Their most common occupations were in the construction sector with 181,772 workers, followed by 170,854 workers in agriculture, 70,384 in the food and beverage sector, 58,914 in services, and 51,512 in domestic service.

The highest number of reported illegal migrant workers was in Bangkok (152,903), followed by Chon Buri (36,734), Samut Prakan (33,045), Pathum Thani (28,521) and Rayong (28,320).

The provinces with the fewest were Yasothon (104), Uttradit (157), Roi Et (161), Amnat Charoen (167) and Maha Sarakham (184).

Employers who failed to report their illegal migrant workers to authorities during the July 24 – Aug 7 registration period have missed the final chance of leniency offered by the government, said Mr Ananchai, who is also a labour inspector-general.

Their illegal migrant workers would have to be repatriated. Their employers would from then on have to recruit only legal migrant workers, or be penalised.

The new executive decree on the illegal employment of foreign workers provides for fines of up to 800,000 baht per illegal migrant worker. The penalty was postponed until the end of this year, pending processes to legalise the newly registered workers.

After the two-week application period, the process of verifying the employment of the newly registered migrant workers started on Tuesday.

Verification would be done by interviews with employers and workers. Afterwards the workers’ nationalities would have to be verified by authorities from their homeland before work permits were issued.

Myanmar authorities will have nationality verification services in Bangkok, Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai, Ranong, Samut Prakan, Samut Sakhon, Songkhla and Tak provinces, he said.

Cambodian verification services will be in Bangkok, Rayong and Songkhla.

Laos had yet to confirm if it would provide the service in Thailand. Pending that, Lao workers would have to seek citizenship verification in their homeland, Mr Ananchai said.

 

By: Penchan Charoensuthipan, Bangkok Post

Published on: 8 August, 2017

 

SE Asia MPs urge Malaysia to halt migrant crackdown

Immigration officers detain migrant workers during a raid in Port Dickson, Malaysia, 11 July 2017. Photo: Fazry Ismail/EPA

Southeast Asian lawmakers on Monday urged Malaysia to halt a crackdown on migrant workers that has seen more than 6,000 foreigners detained and sparked alarm among rights groups.

Relatively developed Malaysia is a magnet for migrant workers from across Asia in sectors ranging from construction to agriculture, but several million are believed to be undocumented.

Authorities started rounding up illegal workers after an official programme to register undocumented foreigners ended on June 30.

The latest official figures show 6,038 undocumented workers have been arrested in raids. The two largest groups represented were from Indonesia and Bangladesh, with substantial numbers also from Myanmar, the Philippines and Vietnam.

MPs from a group that brings together Southeast Asian lawmakers pushing for better human rights visited Malaysia on a fact-finding mission, and at the end of the trip made a plea for authorities to end the crackdown.

“This inhumane action must be halted,” Philippine Congresswoman Emmi De Jesus told reporters in Kuala Lumpur at the end of the visit.

“Many migrants are living in constant fear. Poor treatment by law enforcement, including indefinite detention in abysmal conditions, are urgent concerns.”

The group, ASEAN Parliamentarians for Human Rights, urged all Southeast Asian governments to adopt a binding regional treaty on migrant workers, aimed at protecting workers and their rights.

Leading Malaysian migrant rights group Tenaganita said it was “upset to see such large numbers of undocumented workers including refugees being handcuffed, arrested, criminalised, sent to prisons and detention centres”.

The group says that many of the migrants are in reality victims of unscrupulous employers and agents who demand huge sums of money to bring them to the country, then leave them saddled with huge debts.

Migrant workers typically do manual jobs spurned by locals. A total of 135 employers have also been detained in the crackdown, according to official figures.

 

By: AFP

Published on: 8 August, 2017 by Mizzima News

Despite crackdown, people-smuggling across Thai-Myanmar border has risen

FILEPHOTO: lllegal migrants from Myanmar sit on a bus as they travel to a district court at Tha Sala police station, in Nakorn Si Thammarat province, Thailand, May 6, 2017. REUTERS/Surapan Boonthanom/File Photo

 

People smuggling across the border from Myanmar to Thailand is on the rise despite a crackdown by authorities in both countries that has made it more expensive and dangerous, Thai immigration police say.

Thailand said earlier this year that it hoped its efforts against smuggling would be recognized by the United States in its annual Trafficking in Persons report expected next month.

But while fewer migrants appear to be braving hazardous journeys by sea, figures from immigration police on the land border show an increase in people smuggled from Myanmar since 2014, when Thailand’s military government seized power and vowed to crack down on human smuggling and trafficking rings.

“We’ve applied a lot of pressure so they have to find a new way to come,” Sompong Saimonka, deputy superintendent of Border Immigration Police in Thailand’s western Tak province, the main land gateway from Myanmar, told Reuters. “We can’t keep tabs on it all.”

While Myanmar’s economy has been booming – the World Bank forecasts annual growth will average 7.1 percent over the next three years – wages remain among the lowest in the region.

Migrants from Myanmar often do work Thais shun in sectors such as construction, agriculture and fishing, forming the backbone of Southeast Asia’s second largest economy.

The two countries signed an agreement last year to allow migrants from Myanmar to legally work in Thailand. But many are unwilling to wait up to six months for identity documents and take their chance with the smugglers instead.

CRACKDOWN ON SMUGGLERS

Thailand’s crackdown on human smuggling and trafficking syndicates reverberated around the region in 2015 and drew global attention to the abuses suffered by some of those seeking a better life.

Boatloads of migrants, many of them Rohingya Muslims escaping persecution in Myanmar’s Rakhine state, were turned away by regional governments from Bangladesh to Malaysia after being abandoned at sea by smugglers.

Dozens of bodies of suspected migrants were discovered in jungle camps along the Thai-Malaysian border.

Thai police say the focus on sea routes to Thailand and Malaysia has prompted smugglers to resume overland trails where it is easier to avoid checkpoints.

Data from immigration police at Mae Sot, the main entry point into western Thailand, shows the number of people smuggled from Myanmar rose from 20,323 in 2014 to 24,962 in 2016.

Those were just the recorded cases, so the increase could partly be due to greater enforcement efforts. Few of those recently smuggled were Rohingya, police in Mae Sot said.

“At present Thailand is very conscious about human rights when it comes to laborers and we have opened for laborers from Laos, Cambodia and Myanmar to come and work in Thailand,” government spokesman Sansern Kaewkamnerd.

“Thailand needs overseas labor. We just ask that it is correct.”

Overall figures on illegal entry into Thailand were not available.

‘ANYONE CAN BE A BROKER’

The 2015 crackdown led to the trial of some alleged human traffickers.

But police in Mae Sot say the network of people willing to act as brokers is wider than previously thought.

“Anyone can be a broker. The problem is more widespread than we think. A Burmese factor worker in Mae Sot with a mobile phone can be a broker,” said a former border police officer based in Mae Sot, who declined to be named because he said he feared for his safety.

Last year, in its closely watched report that ranks countries based on anti-trafficking efforts, the U.S. State Department upgraded Thailand’s status a notch to its Tier 2 “Watch List”. Thailand had been downgraded to Tier 3, the lowest level that could trigger sanctions, after the 2014 coup.

The report, which usually comes out in June, matters to Thailand’s junta as it tries to fully normalize relations with Washington and to show it is tackling tough issues better than previous civilian administrations.

The Thai-Myanmar border in Tak province is approximately 500 km (300 miles) long, and includes the 327 km Moie River. During the dry season, which typically begins in March and ends in May, parts of the river are low enough to cross by foot.

Since 2015, many brokers won’t risk transporting migrants in large groups, said the former border police officer. Checkpoints have become more stringent, prompting smugglers to charge more.

Migrants typically pay up to 15,000 Thai baht ($430) to be smuggled from the border area to Bangkok and other cities and towns in Thailand.

“Supply has gone down but demand for workers is still there so the fee for smugglers has gone up,” Yunus, a Myanmar Muslim broker in Thailand, told Reuters in a telephone interview.

 

Reporting by Amy Sawitta Lefevre; Editing by Alex Richardson, Reuters

Published on: 11 May 2017

 

Canny Cambodians get free rides home (Thailand)

Returnees include workers with and without legal documents. (Supplied photo via the Khmer Times)

PHNOM PENH – The number of “undocumented” Cambodian workers being deported from Thailand through border checkpoints has doubled due to the approaching Khmer New Year, an official said Tuesday.

But many were actually legal workers taking advantage of the free transport provided for deportees.

Sem Makara, the deputy chief of the border police station at Poipet, said there was no crackdown at the moment on undocumented Cambodian workers in Thailand, the Khmer Times reported.

“However, for a few days we have seen more than the normal number of migrant workers being deported back to Cambodia. It’s due to the coming Khmer New Year,” he said.

Between 500 and 600 Cambodian workers were reportedly sent back over the previous three days, Mr Makara said. On average, 100 to 200 were deported each day for not having the proper documents to work and stay, he said.

He said those being deported home were both illegal and legal workers.

“Legal workers sometimes hide their passports or travel documents from Thai authorities so they are sent back home immediately and get transport free of charge.”

Almost a half the deportees were actually legal workers. “They are straight away sent home without any further delay,” Mr Makara said.

Earlier this year, Cambodia set out ways that thousands of undocumented workers in Thailand can get legal status through the embassy there to find work or stay in a job.

For many Cambodians it ends a grey area in which they were issued with what are known as pink cards by the Thais. The cards give them migrant worker status, but do not allow them to get jobs legally.

Cambodian deportees at the border. (Supplied photo via the Khmer Times)

 

By: Khmer Times, Bangkok Post

Published on: 5 April 2017

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