Undocumented Burmese Migrants Could Soon Face Prosecution in Thailand

Recently, Thai legislators passed a new law stating that all migrant workers in the country must get official documentation by June 30 to continue working in the country.

The Thai government claims the law is a move to document the many undocumented workers in the country and to curb human trafficking, particularly from Cambodia and Myanmar.

When the June 30th deadline takes effect, migrant workers from Myanmar without proper documentation will be considered illegal and could see fines up to 50,000 baht as well as face deportation.

The new law also requires that all migrants hold a Certification of Identity (CI), which essentially amounts to verifying their nationality so it can be entered into the system by Thai authorities.

But according to the Burma Human Rights Network (BHRN), Muslim migrants from Myanmar are reportedly facing excessive legal obstacles and systemic discrimination from Myanmar immigration when applying for the CI.

“Statelessness inflicted on the community in Myanmar has now become a problem in Thailand, making Burmese Muslim migrants more vulnerable and undermining Thai government policy to register all migrant workers,” BHRN said.

Muslim migrants are reporting that they have to submit more documents than other migrants, including having to show household registration, letters from police or authorities in their hometown, and a valid ID card.

Getting an ID card is a challenge in itself for Myanmar Muslims though. They are routinely refused national ID cards by the Burmese authorities, which human rights groups say is a way for the government to disenfranchise the minority Muslim group in the country.

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