After overwhelming international support for 18-year-old Rahaf Mohammed al-Qunun, the Thai authorities have apparently changed direction. Maj Gen Surachate Hakcharn said around 4 pm today that Thailand will no longer try to deport her against her will, saying that “we won’t send someone to their death.” He also announced that representatives from the UNHCR would be able to meet with her at 5 pm.
(Bangkok) – Thailand authorities should immediately halt the planned deportation of a Saudi woman who says she is fleeing domestic abuse and fears for her safety if forcibly returned to Saudi Arabia, Human Rights Watch said today. The authorities should also allow her unrestricted access to make a refugee claim with the Bangkok office of the United Nations refugee agency (UNHCR) and should respect UNHCR’s decision under the agency’s protection mandate.
Amnesty International is alarmed by the detention and treatment of at least 168 Cambodian and Vietnamese asylum seekers and refugees in Thailand, and urges the Thai authorities to release them immediately pending the assessment of their asylum claims. Amnesty International has raised the issue of the treatment and deportation of asylum seekers and refugees with the Thai government in the past1, but regrettably we have seen the absence of concrete improvements in the protection of people seeking asylum in Thailand.
Uphold Pledge to End Immigration Detention of Children (Bangkok, August 30, 2018) – Thai authorities should immediately release 181 ethnic minority refugees and asylum seekers, most with UN refugee status, who were recently arrested, Human Rights Watch said today. Those detained come mostly from the Montagnard population in Vietnam and Cambodia and were arrested on August 28, 2018, on the outskirts of Bangkok.
Nonthaburi authorities have arrested 168 refugees and asylum seekers from Vietnam and Cambodia, even though 154 of them are recognised by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). On 28 August 2018, district officials, the military, local police and Immigration Police raided a house in Bang Yai District in Nonthaburi to arrest 130 Vietnamese and 38 Cambodians. The raid took place at dawn after the authorities received a report that the 168 were connected to human trafficking networks. 60 of those arrested are children.
Last March, the Thai Immigration Police visited Henry’s apartment six times. Henry is a Nigerian MBA student, with a valid student visa. “They accosted me on my way to campus”, he said. “They went through my phone a couple of times during the harassment. They came into my room and searched through my wardrobes and desk drawers. They took photos of me and my room number”. According to Henry, his room was “ransacked”. Henry’s crime? He says it is simply being a black African. “To me, this is nothing less than racism and harassment.”
On 5 January 2018, the Thai authorities detained Sam Sokha, a prominent labour activist, and deported her to Cambodia on 8 February. The incident has raised concerns among various human rights organisations that Hun Sen and the Thai military government are covertly making a deal on exchanging political refugees. The Thai and Cambodian government officials cooperated in arranging a hurried deportation of the activist. She was deported little more than a month after she was arrested.
Tens of thousands of migrant workers without proper documentation travelled back to their homelands or were fired by their employers who feared legal repercussion as soon as the Royal Decree on Managing the Work of Aliens B.E. 2560 (2017) went into effect on 23 June.
An anti-junta journalist who fled the country to the US shortly after the 2014 coup d’état has been granted official refugee status. On 13 July 2017, Jom Petchpradab, a veteran journalist now living in self-exile in the US, posted on his Facebook account that he has been granted official refugee status from the US government.
Policies and practices developed by ASEAN member states in managing refugee crisis are mostly marked by their changeable, ad-hoc, and optional characteristics. Since most of them are not signatories to the 1951 Refugee Convention and its 1967 Protocol, any policies and practices that do emerge are not necessarily obligatory and compliance is not guaranteed. Moreover, they tend to endorse the national interests, particularly in terms of domestic security and development, rather than to prioritize the interest and destiny of refugees.