Monday, October 3, 2011

Thailand migrant workers face rights abuses, extortion

Sonia Labboun, Press TV,

There are around 1.4 million migrant workers in Thailand mainly from Burma and Cambodia, but only 800,000 have registered with the Labour Ministry program for immigrants and were granted a certificate allowing a special type of residency. According to activists, lack of official papers fuels different kinds of abuses such as being arrested and paying large sums of money for their release.

Migrant workers complain that they often get arrested because they lack legal papers to stay and work in Thailand. The bribes they often have to pay range from 20 to hundreds of dollars, which in some cases exceed their salaries. Human rights activists say it is common to see different charges pressed against the migrant workers.

According to the ministry of labor, the process of providing migrant workers with proper work permits would be smoother and more efficient if their countries of origin had a better database about these people and provided them with official IDs and passports. Migrant workers face another obstacle to stay legally in Thailand; it is common that employers do not provide them with work permits fearing they would move on to other jobs afterwards.

Thai authorities are asking neighboring countries to cooperate and share information to better monitor migrant workers in order to avoid abuses as illegal immigration fuels human trade in the region.

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