Category Archives: Old MMN Activities

MMN General Conference & the 2nd MMN Vocabulary Workshop, 1-4 September, Chiang Mai, Thailand

Following the MMN Workshop on Migration Trends and Responses in the Greater Mekong Subregion and Beyond, the MMN General Conference was held attended by more than 35 MMN members. The members collectively discussed and updated the MMN Terms of Partnership, reviewed the MMN joint activities in the past two years, discussed thoroughly the implementation of ongoing projects and adopted a plan of action for 2010-2012.

On the 3rd -4th of September 2010, MMN Vocabulary project team members continued to work on the project, “Mekong Vocabulary on Labour Migration”. This project aims to facilitate common understanding of terminologies on migration issues by filling an information gap and providing a forum for informative discussion and collaborative application of these terms among participating civil society groups.

The workshop on the 3rd-4th of September 2010 was the second of its series, following the 1st workshop organised in Bangkok in February 2010 during which time the project partners worked on selection of terminologies and initial definitions. The total number of terms selected for the project is over 140, including terms referring to types of migration/migrants, work, economy, migration policy, administration procedure, health rights, and society in relation to migration/migrants. Project partners formed country teams and each team was assigned a number of terms to draft the definitions from those themes.

During the 2nd workshop, the project partners presented the definitions their respective team has come up with, and discussed with the rest of the project members to further refine the definitions. This process revealed a significant variety in how each term is understood in various GMS countries, reflecting different perspective on relevant issues. The project members discussed how they can further refine the definition. The definitions in English will be finalized by December 2010, and the translation into the six Mekong languages will follow in 2011.

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MMN Workshop on Migration Trends and Responses in the Greater Mekong Subregion and Beyond, 30-31 August 2010, Chiang Mai, Thailand

Press Release: Proposed Measures to Arrest Undocumented Migrants Are Life-Threatening and Counterproductive

Press Release
June 22nd 2010

Proposed Measures to Arrest Undocumented Migrants Are Life-Threatening
and Counterproductive

The Mekong Migration Network is deeply concerned for the safety of migrant workers in Thailand following Order No 125/2553 of the Prime Minister’s Office, regarding the Suppression, Prosecution and Arrest of Migrants Working Underground.

During 2010 alone there have already been 23 reported deaths of migrant workers resulting from acts of suppression. In the third week of January nine Karen job-seekers were shot dead in Phop Phra District, allegedly after being unable to pay a bribe to local police. On February 25th 2010, three migrant children (a three-year-old, six-year-old and 16-year-old) were shot dead when soldiers fired at the car transporting them. In Phuket, on March 8th 2010, two young sisters drowned while trying to escape a police raid on their camp.
On May 23rd, 2010, nine Chin migrants, including two young children, died and 19 others were seriously injured when the pick-up they were travelling in was fired upon and chased by a police car in Petchburi province.

The members of the Mekong Migration Network are greatly disturbed by this use of lethal force by the various Thai authorities (police, border police, army) against undocumented migrants. We fear that these deaths and injuries will multiply if the policy to suppress and arrest migrants is enforced.

In addition, we believe that to set up the Centre for the Suppression, Prosecution and Arrest of Migrants based in the Ministry of Labour is counterproductive to efforts being made to regularise migrants with temporary passports; and also to fulfilling the Ministry of Labour’s stated goal to enhance the quality of life and social security for workers.

Giving the mandate of suppression, prosecution and arrest of workers to the Ministry of Labour will clearly undermine all workers’ confidence and trust in the ministry, and will threaten the security of all workers in Thailand. The enforcement of the labour laws for migrant workers is already shamefully weak, and should the ministry take on the role of policing the immigration status of migrants, the workers will have no legal avenues through which to improve their working conditions.

Only a small percentage of migrants undergoing nationality verification have actually received their temporary passport, the rest, almost one million, are still in the process. Since the process requires trust and cooperation between migrants, employers and local authorities, the current Order is also likely to impact on the effectiveness of regularising undocumented migrants. Migrants have long experience of mass raids which do not screen migrants’ status. It is highly likely that some migrants holding only appointment cards for nationality verification will also be arrested, together with undocumented migrants, and this will undermine the confidence of all migrants to proceed with regularisation.

Furthermore, ordering the arrest of the 300,000 migrants who were eligible to enter into the nationality verification process but did not follow through does not address the shortcomings of the process, it only causes more confusion, distrust and resentment.

The Mekong Migration Network thus makes the following recommendations:

1. to protect migrants from the dangers of arrest, detention and deportation we call on the Royal Thai Government to
• immediately revoke Order No 125/2553
• limit the use of arrest, detention and/or deportation as a strategy to respond to irregular migration – but when it is used, to ensure that the procedures are carried out with safeguards established in international human rights, and national, laws
• to strictly abide by the United Nations Basic Principles on the Use of Force and Firearms by Law Enforcement Officials which requires that law enforcement officials shall as far as possible apply non-violent means before resorting to the use of arms when performing law enforcement duties

2. to respond to irregular migration, we call on the Royal Thai Government to

• facilitate the nationality verification, temporary passport and work permit process for migrants currently in the system
• open the system of obtaining nationality verification, temporary passports and work permits to all migrants

3. to protect the safety of migrants, we call on

• the National Human Rights Commission to investigate all cases of use of lethal weapons by authorities in relation to the arrest of undocumented migrants
• the Ministry of Justice to ensure that witnesses to such incidences are protected and that migrant witnesses are provided with documentation to remain safely in Thailand during the investigations
• the Ministry of Justice to ensure that families of victims of state violence are properly compensated
• the Ministry of Labour to perform its duties in protecting and safeguarding workers by ensuring that working conditions conform to the national laws and the ILO Decent Work standards

For further information please contact:
Ms. Laddawan Tamafu +66 8 1595 1364 (Thai/English)
Mr. Sutthiphong Khongkhaphon +66 8 1595 1366 (Burmese/English)

Press Release: Deaths of Migrants Must be Investigated

Press Release:
Deaths of Migrants Must be Investigated
March 19th 2010

On February 25th 2010, in Pak Nam sub-district, Ranong province, soldiers from the 25th Infantry Division fired on a pickup truck carrying 13 undocumented migrant workers from Burma, resulting in the deaths of three migrant children. Those killed were a three or four year old, six or seven year old girl, and a 16-year-old boy. Five others were also injured during the shooting1.

On March 9th 2010, in Phuket, a 20-year-old woman and a young girl from Burma drowned in a river while fleeing from the police who arrived at the worker’s quarters at night. The woman had a work permit and was enrolled in the new nationality verification program and the girl was holding the temporary identification document (Tor Ror 38/1). According to a witness, workers nearby were too afraid to go and rescue the drowning pair, as the police held them off at gun point.

The Mekong Migration Network (MMN), a sub-regional network of 38 member organisations working together to protect migrants’ rights in the Greater Mekong Subregion (GMS), is appalled by such tragic deaths of innocent children and women. These deaths would have been avoided if proper procedures had been followed and if the safety and well-being of migrants was respected.

In 2006-2007, the MMN conducted collaborative research on the arrest, detention and deportation (“ADD”) of migrant workers in the GMS and highlighted serious human rights abuses, as well as a lack of transparency and accountability during processes that involved ADD. While MMN’s core recommendation is that policies be amended so that migrants are not constantly at risk of arrest, detention and deportation, in the event that migrants are arrested, detained or deported, we called for the procedures to be carried out in a humane, safe and transparent manner and only by authorized, trained authorities2.

In response to these latest tragedies, The Mekong Migration Network urgently calls for the Royal Thai Government to:

1. Conduct full and impartial investigations into these events to ensure that the authorities involved are held liable for their actions.

2. Facilitate access to justice for the victims and their families and ensure that they receive adequate redress.

3. Take immediate steps to ensure that the relevant authorities enforce safe and humane procedures during the arrest and deportation of migrant workers according to the Thai Criminal Procedure Code; the 1997 Measures in Prevention and Suppression of Trafficking in Women and Children Act (Section 9); and Article 22 of the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of Migrant workers and their Families (1999).

4. Address the level of fear and insecurity that has been created in the migrant community which leads to even fully documented migrants being terrified of uniformed officers.

Footnotes:
1. “Three Migrants Killed by Thai Army”, in Irrawaddy, 26 February 2010, “Migrant Children Shooting Unacceptable: HRW”, in Irrawaddy 9 March 2010
2. Mekong Migration Network, Migration in the Greater Mekong Subregion: Resource Book—In-depth Study: Arrest, Detention and Deportation”, 2008, p.177. Downloadable at http://www.mekongmigration.org/?page_id=73

Launching a new project: Mekong Vocabulary on Labour Migration – promoting a common language understanding in the region and building a regional network for safe migration in the Greater Mekong Subregion (GMS)

In late 2009 MMN launched a new project entitled “Mekong Vocabulary on Labour Migration – promoting a common language understanding in the region and building a regional network for safe migration in the Greater Mekong Subregion (GMS).” The initiative is supported by the Toyota Foundation Asian Neighbors Program.

Millions of migrant workers in the GMS continue to work and live without any form of immigration status or sufficient labour protection. In order to formulate coherent responses, cross-border and multi-sector collaboration are crucial. Existing efforts are sometimes hindered by a lack of common understanding of the issues and relevant terminologies. This is a result of both language barriers and differing, and sometimes conflicting, perspectives on migration issues.

Hence the project aims to increase common understanding of terminologies by filling an information gap and providing a forum for informative discussion and collaborative application of these terms among participating civil society groups. Three small workshops will be held for the project partners to discuss the various terminologies and their definition of the terms in English and in the GMS languages.

As part of the project MMN will also produce a booklet describing various labour protections in the respective GMS labour laws. This will be used as a reference guide for civil society and government agencies to better understand policies of neighbouring countries. The direct beneficiaries of this project will be civil society organisations working on migration issues in the GMS. However, publications from the project will also be used for government meetings and training – thus there is potential to help policy dialogue in the GMS become more in-depth and be based on mutual understanding.

The first workshop was held on 26-27th February, 2010, in Bangkok, Thailand, with around 20 project members from the six GMS countries. During the workshop project members participated in several activities, including identifying differences in understanding migration terms, and collectively making a detailed work plan. The second workshop is scheduled for September 2010.

1st workshop_vocabulary_1.JPG

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