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

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