Rights Protection and Humanitarian Assistances
For All Flood Victims, under the Principle of Non-crimination, regardless of the Nationality, Race, Language, and Legal Status
The Human Rights Subcommittee on Ethnic Minorities, Stateless, Migrant Workers and Displaced Persons
The Lawyers Council of Thailand
October, 21st 2011
According to the flood crisis, striking many provinces of the Kingdom of Thailand, a significant number of people have unavoidably become victims who are physically, emotionally, and economically damaged. Among the number, there are, also, thousands of migrant workers, suffering from not only becoming the victims, but also from language barriers which fall down between them and other Thai rescuing corps, doubling the migrants’ unfortunates.
So far, it is a great pleasure to acknowledge that many public and private sections attempt to provide supports to all victims, regardless of the nationality, race, language, and legal status. However, there are, still, some parties that are worrying and questioning about the migrants’ legal status, their entry to the country, and their domicile. As such, feelings of concern and even threat have been created. Some Thai citizens may feel unsafe to house or shelter the migrant victims. Consequently, some of these victims are not able to get access to fundamental supports and services provided, as well as, are denied from staying in temporary shelters served by both public and private offices.
As a result, the Human Rights Subcommittee on Ethnic Minorities, Stateless, Migrant Workers and Displaced Persons, under the Lawyers Council of Thailand, is realizing that, in order to solve the existing problems with migrant victims, to make certain mutual understandings to all sections, including public authorities, private organizations, and Thai society, especially FROC, is crucial and, therefore, should all be advised that;
1) All migrant workers are one of the key factors, driving the country’s economic system, especially in unpopular businesses for Thai citizens such as low-paid works and labor jobs. Hence, these workers must be respected as members of Thai society as a whole. Assisting the migrant victims in this time of flood crisis must be protected under the Human Rights and Humanitarian principles which equally applied to all individuals, regardless of their nationality, race, language, culture, and legal status. These principles are as well stated in many international laws, conventions, treaties, signed by the Royal Thai Government, and also affirmed and regulated by the 2550 Constitution.
2) Concerning the legal status of Burmese, Lao, and Cambodian workers, the Royal Thai Government has issued the certain measures that allow these workers and their attendants to temporarily stay and work in the state by registering themselves with the Ministry of Interior and filing for work permits to the Department of Employment, Ministry of Labor.
Though some workers have been verified by the NV process and, accordingly, hold the passports, visas, and work permits, some are, on the contrary, illegally entering and residing in the country. However, no matter how the Immigration Act identifies the definition of legally and illegally entering and residing, Measures and practices related to migrant workers by means of saving their lives from the flood crisis by
1. rescuing and transporting migrant workers and their attendants can not be considered that the rescuers and the owners or the controllers of the vehicles are violating the Immigration Act B.E. 2522 Art. 70,
2. assisting and sheltering migrant workers and their attendants in any kinds of accommodation, both public and private can not be considered that the persons in charge are violating the Immigration Act B.E. 2522 Art. 64,
3. necessarily traveling outside the registered areas in order to save lives from the flood without requesting permission prior leaving can not be considered as violating the MOI proclamation on illegal traveling outside permitted areas,
4. as a result of the flood and for the purpose of life supporting, necessarily changing employments and employers to the prohibited careers or without informing the authority prior changing employments can not be considered as violating the related MOL’s proclamation
5. medical treating migrant workers and their attendants can not be considered that such medical officers are violating the laws
6. in case of public authorities, including police and administrative officers who are empowered to handle with illegal migration, domestically and internationally, not arresting illegal migrant workers and their attendants can not be considered as violating the Criminal Code, Art. 157
7. in case of the MOL officers who are responsible for investigating illegal working cases, not arresting or proceeding the migrant workers, who don’t hold work permits or work in the unregistered careers, can not be considered as violating the Criminal Code, Art. 157, and
8. among other things, assisting and saving lives of all victims which are the most important things to all officers, volunteers, and citizens are required under the humanitarian regimes with respects to human dignity, greater goods of co-habitation, and great morals implied in the human rights principles.
3) The flood crisis is happening very sudden in many areas. Therefore, there are a number of migrant employees who don’t hold important identification papers such as work permits and passports because of many reasons. Some lost the papers in the flood, and some left them in the accommodations, while some didn’t have them in the first place since their employers seized the papers. Accordingly, it is crucial to achieve co-operations from all relevant departments in order to provide helps to migrant victims without concerning to the papers and their legal status.
4) Employers who seized the employees’ papers should return them to the owners at once since seizing such papers without proper causes is illegal.
5) Public and private sectors, including employers must equally assist, support, heal, and protect migrant workers and their rights as a labor worker under the Labor Protection Act B.E. 2551 and other relevant laws.
The Sub-Committee would like to thank all sections for kindness and generosity in equally handing humanitarian helps and services to all victims without discrimination.
Human Rights Subcommittee on Ethnic Minorities,
Stateless, Migrant Workers and Displaced Persons
The Lawyers Council of Thailand
For more information
Surapong Kongchantuk Chairperson (081-6424006)
Further legal assistance
Thanu Ak-Chote Sub-committee (081-1718228)
Nassir Artwarin Sub-committee (081-6181929)
Thipvimon Sirinupong Sub-committee (085-0440234)