Thailand: Concerns rise as migrant workers' nationality verification deadline approaches

Updated On: Feb 24, 2010

More than one million migrants in Thailand face possible deportation and further abuse if they fail to meet a deadline this week to register with authorities, New York-based Human Rights Watch said.

Thailand has ordered all migrants from neighboring Myanmar, Cambodia and Laos to register and verify their nationality by Feb. 28 or risk deportation, as part of an ongoing clampdown on immigration.

The 'nationality verification' exercise theoretically will help the workers get additional social security benefits in Thailand. The workers need to register by this Sunday to begin the process, which could take up to two years to complete.

However, the process is complicated, prohibitively expensive and unrealistic, Human Right Watch said, particularly for migrants from military-ruled Myanmar, many of whom entered Thailand illegally after suffering political and economic repression at home. It is reported that the Myanmar authorities have been dragging their feet over the process, and even extracting money in some instances, leaving many in limbo just days before the Feb 28 deadline.

So far, the Thai authorities have refused to extend the deadline despite increasing calls from international rights organisations to do so.

Migrants face abuse, extortion in Thailand [Reuters India]
Thailand to deport 1.3m [Straits Times]
Deadline for migrants slammed [Straits Times]
Group slams Thai deadline for registering migrants [BusinessWeek]

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