Independent UN expert warns of threat of mass deportations from Thailand

18 February 2010
Jorge A. Bustamante, Special Rapporteur on the human rights of migrants

A large number of migrant workers from Myanmar, Cambodia and Laos face the threat of deportation from Thailand if the Government goes ahead with its nationality verification process, an independent United Nations human rights expert warned today.

In January, the Thai Cabinet passed a resolution allowing for a two-year extension of work permits for approximately 1.3 million migrants provided that they were willing to submit biographical information to their home governments prior to 28 February 2010.

However, migrants who fail to do so by this deadline risk deportation after the 28 February deadline.

Jorge A. Bustamante, the UN expert on the human rights of migrants, noted in a news release that carrying out the verification process in its current form places many documented and undocumented migrant workers at risk after 28 February.

“I am disappointed that that the Government of Thailand has not responded to my letters expressing calls for restraint,” said the expert, who reports to the Geneva-based Human Rights Council.

“I reiterate my earlier messages to the Government to reconsider its actions and decisions, and to abide by international instruments,” he added. “If pursued, the threats of mass expulsion will result in unprecedented human suffering and will definitely breach fundamental human rights obligations.”

Mr. Bustamante called on Thailand to respect the principle of ‘non-refoulement,’ noting that among the groups who may potentially be deported are some who may be in need international protection and should not be returned to the country of origin.

Like all UN human rights experts, Mr. Bustamante works in an independent and unpaid capacity.


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