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Constitutional case to be filed over Thai-only Covid-19 cash handouts policy

Migrant workers and stateless persons to file case with Constitutional Court concerning access to Ministry of Labour’s “Section 33, We Love Each Other” Covid-19 handouts for constitutional breach.

The Constitutional Court logo.

On 8 June 2021, representatives of the persons insured pursuant to Section 33 of the Social Security Act 1990 including migrant workers and stateless workers had submitted a complaint to the Ombudsman demanding an inquiry and recommendations to the Ministry of Labour and the Ministry of Finance to rescind the criteria which require that an insured person pursuant to Section 33 has to be a Thai national in order to have access to the cash handouts.

The complainants demand that they and other insured persons who are stateless be given access to the remedy pursuant to the “Section 33, We Love Each Other” cash relief and other similar programs in the future. This will ensure an equal and fair treatment. The Ombudsman was also asked to propose this issue to the Constitutional Court in order for the court to rule if the program is an act which constitutes an unjust discrimination and segregation in breach of the Constitution of the Kingdom of Thailand BE 2560’s Sections 4 and 27 or not.  

On 15 September 2021, the insured persons pursuant to Section 33 including migrant workers and stateless workers received a reply from the Ombudsman which states that the criteria of the “Section 33, We Love Each Other” cash relief which restrict access solely to a Thai national does not constitute a discrimination and is therefore not in a breach of the Constitution of the Kingdom of Thailand BE 2560’s Sections 4 and 27 since the provisions which prohibit a discrimination on the grounds of differences in race do not include nationality (for more information, please read). 

The representatives of the migrant workers and stateless persons do not agree with the Ombudsman’s ruling and decide to file the case with the Constitutional Court for a review of the facts and to recommend to the Ministry of Labour, the Ministry of Finance and the cabinet regarding the “Section 33, We Love Each Other” program which only restricts its access to a Thai national and to adjudicate if it is in breach of the Constitution of the Kingdom of Thailand BE 2560’s Sections 4 and 27 or not. The case will be filed on 9 December 2021 at 10 am.  

Pasuta Chuenkhachorn, Human Rights and Development Foundation (HRDF), says that the case filed with the Constitutional Court is an exercise of the right to the remaining judicial mechanism to ensure the legal protection and uphold human rights of the people living in Thailand. The Constitutional Court is asked to determined if the Ministry of Labour’s and the Ministry of Finance’s policy to address the need of people affected by the Covid-19 pandemic constitutes an act of discrimination or not.

Pasuta thinks the Constitutional Court should accept to review the case and adjudicate it in light of the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (CERD), an international human rights law to which Thailand is a state party. After all, Thailand has declared its commitment toward promoting and supporting respect and recognition of human rights and fundamental freedom of all human beings regardless of the reasons based on race, gender, language or religion.  

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