Thailand Law Journal 2014 Spring Issue 1 Volume 17

3 Health Care

Refugees living inside the camps must get documents from the Thai authorities if they wish to leave the camp, including for visits to the hospital. Leaving the camp without permission will result in being "punished."448 Recent first hand reports detail that the military police have taken control of one of the refugee camps and that the only people allowed to leave are those in need of medical attention.449 Another interviewee, not specifically concerned with those living in the camps, also exclaimed that many of the target populations cannot access standard health services.450

In the camps international organisations provide medical care for the children but no health care is provided by the Thai Government.451 Mr. Ehkusoe claimed there was not enough health care in the camp and that some children were suffering from malaria while many children were malnourished as there was also not enough food.452 Another interviewee explained that refugees supplement their food rations with their own agricultural products.453 As explored earlier the right to health care is not being realised for the target populations,454 and their lack of access to food,455 has resulted in malnourished children among the target populations without adequate health care. According to the HRC it is desirable for States to take all possible measures to eliminate malnutrition in order to protect the right to life.456

Furthermore UN Special Rapporteur Catarina de Albuquerque has called for the Thai government to increase its efforts in ensuring all people in Thailand gain access to drinking water. The UN expert highlighted the disparity between developed areas and less formal settlements, specifically showing concern for stateless people and undocumented migrants.457

4 Equal Treatment

Although having established before that despite the target populations being treated differently from citizens in Thailand they are not discriminated against,458 certain groups within the target populations may be discriminated against.

Thai guards monitor the camps and, in one of the camps, would treat inhabitants differently, even performing favours if inhabitants provided the guards with money. There was however no problem in this camp pertaining to differential treatment based upon an individuals religion or ethnicity.459

The Shan, an ethnic group fleeing Burma for similar reasons to other groups have not been able to get access to a camp or gain recognition for the establishment of a camp.460 In 2002 the Koung Jor Shan refugee camp was established,461 however this camp has not gained recognition from the UNHCR.462 One interviewee of Shan ethnicity claimed that the UNHCR in Thailand discriminate against the Shan by not recognising the Shan people in Thailand and resettling certain ethnic groups quicker than others.463 Furthermore the research of Christa Foster Crawford stated that there is deep rooted prejudice against the Shan in Thailand and that individuals from Shan state make up a large portion of the women and girls in the most
exploitative forms of prostitution in northern Thailand, many of whom are or have been victims of trafficking.464

The Rohingya fleeing Burma by boat have been forced back out to sea by Thai authorities.465 Rohingya's found on land have been deported back to Burma "as quickly as they can be", although a small population are kept in immigration detention centres. Treatment of the Rohingya "does seem pretty much based on ethnic grounds".466

The Shan and Rohingya are treated differently from others fleeing Burma in similar situations, the difference in treatment is alleged to be due to their ethnicity, an identifiable characteristic. This means that in Thailand the Shan and Rohingya, including the children, are discriminated against.467 Equal protection of the law, guaranteed under the ICCPR has thus not been granted to the target populations upon implementation. Furthermore special measures of protection and assistance should be afforded to all children without any discrimination regarding protection from economic and social exploitation.468 Shan girls are
discriminated against, contributing to their high numbers involved in economically exploitative sex work,469 violating their freedom from exploitation.

5 Government Assistance

When asked what assistance the Thai Government has provided for the target populations one interviewee replied "not much" and that the law would need to be amended to allow for greater assistance.470 One interviewee explained that the government did not help the children in the camp, the only help came from international organisations.471 Another interviewee claimed that the camps are largely organised by the refugees themselves and do not have much contact with Thai authorities on a regular basis. Further stating, and it should be noted, that the Thai Government have provided access to land for temporary shelter, allowing people to stay in the camps.472


The refugees interviewed in Malaysia explained they had fled Burma due to inter alia children being denied an education,473 being forced to join armed forces474 and being beaten475 and raped476 by the army.

1 The Journey

The Shan interviewee detailed his journey from Shan State in Burma into Thailand and on to Malaysia. The journey from Shan State into Thailand was done on foot, when the interviewee was fifteen years of age. He stayed in Thailand for two months. From Chiang-Mai to Bangkok he used one agent (person smuggler) and from Bangkok to Malaysia he used another agent, whom he paid THB 8,000. One stop en route was behind an aluminium factory which had 15sq foot houses, holding four to six people, he stayed here for five days.

After the five days a Thai Army soldier transported him and the other irregular migrants to the highway, placing them in a hidden compartment behind the driver's seat of a lorry. After another stop and change of transport they reached the Malaysian border. At the border they were instructed to make a phone call to prove they knew someone in Kuala Lumpur who could assure the agent they would be paid another RM1,000 once the person reached Kuala Lumpur. If they had no one to phone in Kuala Lumpur they would either be sold to fisherman or shot.477

The case of Samaesan also concerned individuals from Burma entering Thailand via irregular means who were sold to work on fishing trawlers.478

[1]  [2]  [3]  [4]  [5]  [6]  [7]  [8]  [9]  [10]

[11]   [12]  [13]  [14]  [15]  [16]  [17]  [18]  [19]

446 Zoa, 'Thailand' (n334) <> accessed 1 August 2014, Su-
Ann Oh and Marc van der Stouwe (n5) 608, Ad Hoc and Inadequate Thailand's Treatment of Refugees and
Asylum Seekers (n243) 33-35
447 CRC (n32) art 28, ICESCR (n58) art 14
448 Interview #5 (n433)
449 On file with author: Email correspondence with anonymous Karen individual July 15th 2014
450 Interview #6 (n434)
451 Interview #5 (n433), This is supported by: Ad Hoc and Inadequate Thailand's Treatment of Refugees and
Asylum Seekers (n243) 30
452 Interview #5 (n433), supported by Interview #6 (n434)
453 Interview #7 (n435)
454 Please see: '3 DOMESTIC LAW, A RIGHTS, 1 Absolute Rights, (g) Right to health care'
455 Please see: '3 DOMESTIC LAW, A RIGHTS, 2 Qualified rights, (b) Adequate standard of living'
456 HRI/GEN/1/Rev.9 (Vol. I) (n124) page 177, para 5
457 UN News Centre, 'UN expert calls on Thailand to eliminate disparities on access to water and sanitation' (8
February 2013) <> accessed 1 August
458 Please see: '3 DOMESTIC LAW, A RIGHTS, 3 Derogable Rights, (b) Equal protection from the law'
459 Interview #5 (n433)
460 Interview #7 (n435)
461 The Branch Foundation, 'Koung Jor Shan Refugee Camp @ Thai-Burma Border'
<> accessed 11 August
2014, Kong Jor 'Home away from home' <> accessed 11 August 2014
462 UNHCR, 'Thailand' (n10)
463 On file with author, 'Interview #4' (January 2011 Kuala Lumpur) Shan individual
464 Christa Foster Crawford (n5) 822
465 Interview #7 (n435), Human Rights Watch, 'Thailand: Investigate departure of Rohingya 'boat people'' (21
February 2011) <>
accessed 11 August 2014
466 Interview #7 (n435)
467 Using the definition earlier offered: Discrimination can be taken to occur where there is a difference in
treatment of persons in analogous, or relatively similar, situations which is based on an identifiable
characteristic. Handbook on European Non-Discrimination Law (n362)
468 ICESCR (n58) art 10(3)
469 Christa Foster Crawford (n5) 822
470 Interview #6 (n434)
471 Interview #5 (n433)
472 Interview #7 (n435)
473 Interview #4 (n463), On file with author, 'Interview #2' (November 2009 Kuala Lumpur) Karen Individual
474 On file with author, 'Interview #3' (November 2009 Kuala Lumpur) Karen Individual
475 Interview #1 (n14)
476 Interview #2 (n473)
477 Interview #4 (n463)
478 UN Doc THA011 (n424)


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