The Thai Government has approved a framework to enhance the identification and protection of refugees.
The resolution was approved in principle by the Cabinet to finalise and implement a screening mechanism for undocumented immigrants and refugees. The plan comes following agreements made at the 2016 UN Summit for Refugees and Migrants where Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha pledged to improve protection and solutions for refugees in Thailand.
A framework to identify undocumented immigrants and refugees has the potential to prevent people being labeled as ‘illegal aliens’ or ‘illegal immigrants’, labels which make them highly vulnerable to arbitrary arrest, detention and forced deportation.
The UN Refugee Agency, UNHCR, has applauded the approval by the Thai Cabinet.
“With more than 65 million people forcibly displaced globally, it is crucial that States and international actors work hand in hand to respond to growing humanitarian needs,” Ruvendrini Menikdiwela, UNHCR’s Representative in Thailand said in a statement. “It is heart-warming to see Thailand acting upon pledges made in New York, and once again taking a leadership role in the ASEAN region in addressing complex issues related to refugees and stateless persons.”
“It is heart-warming to see Thailand acting upon pledges made in New York, and once again taking a leadership role in the ASEAN region in addressing complex issues related to refugees and stateless persons…” Ruvendrini Menikdiwela, UNHCR Thailand
The UNHCR has long been advocating for comprehensive legal framework for the protection of refugees in Thailand, which hosts more than 1 million refugees.
“This Cabinet action represents an important and concrete step towards creating an appropriate regulatory framework for refugee management and protection in Thailand,” said Menikdiwela. “We hope it will clearly establish the criteria and methodology for deciding who is and isn’t a refugee, and outline their rights and obligations in Thailand.”
The process will be done in collaboration and corporation with foreign governments, international organisations and non-government organisations. The UNHCR statement added that it would continue to offer support and technical assistance for finalising and implementing the framework for refugee management in Thailand.