In-depth Study on Arrest, Detention and Deportation in Thailand
A key area of MMN’s work since its founding has been to monitor and advocate for reform of the law, policy and procedures governing the arrest, detention, and deportation (ADD) of migrants. The use and misuse of these immigration powers continues to be a matter of serious concern as they negatively impact the daily lives of migrants and are at the root of various human rights violations. MMN launched this in-depth study in 2011 to build on previous research on issues relating to ADD and to provide a situational update on law, policy, and practice governing the ADD of migrants in Thailand. It further aimed to provide an in-depth and systematic analysis of ADD as experienced on the ground by migrants. In 2013, MMN’s research findings were presented in a report entitled No Choice in the Matter: Migrants’ Experiences of Arrest, Detention and Deportation. These findings were shared with the Immigration Bureau of the Royal Thai Government during a policy dialogue meeting held on 28 June 2013.
MMN Project Partners
- Cambodian Women Crisis Centre, Cambodia
- Empower Foundation, Thailand
- Foundation for AIDS Rights, Thailand
- Foundation for Education and Development, Thailand
- Friends of Women Foundation, Thailand
- Legal Support for Children and Women, Cambodia
In 2011, MMN and project partners collectively decided to conduct in-depth and systematic analysis of ADD as experienced on the ground by migrants. During the project period, MMN held three project consultation meetings in August 2011, February 2012, and October 2012 to design research parameters, analyse collected data, and develop recommendations targeted at relevant stakeholders. Based on agreed research design and strategies, MMN’s research team and project partners conducted interviews with 200 migrant workers and officials, as well as an extensive secondary research. Interviews showed that cases of ADD are common and abuse, corruption and disregard for human dignity continue unabated during these processes. Despite recent efforts to regularise migrants and to introduce formalised guidelines regulating ADD, the process remains ad hoc and frequently runs counter to human rights standards.
The findings of the research were published in the 2013 report entitled No Choice in the Matter: Migrants’ Experiences of Arrest, Detention and Deportation. The report was submitted to government representatives in Burma/Myanmar and Cambodia, and a policy dialogue was held on 28 June 2013 with the Immigration Bureau in Thailand to discuss the recommendations, as detailed below.
Between 16 and 19 November 2012, MMN attended the 9th Asia-Europe People’s Forum in Vientiane, Lao PDR and organised a workshop entitled Challenging Immigration Detention: From Asia to Europe in collaboration with Global Detention Project (GDP) and the National University of Laos (NUOL). In attendance were participants representing civil society organisations and mass organisations from Asia and Europe. During the event, participants shared about trends of immigration detention in their respective countries. This was followed by a roundtable discussion, where representatives from MMN, GDP, and NUOL provided an overview of: trends relating to immigration detention in Europe and categorisation of various types of immigration detention; immigration detention and deportation practices in Thailand; and the roles of migrant countries of origin in providing assistance to its nationals who are detained. Issues arising from MMN’s study were discussed and participants of the workshop jointly developed recommendations to address the issues of immigration detention. These recommendations were reflected in No Choice in the Matter: Migrants’ Experiences of Arrest, Detention and Deportation (2013). To learn more about the workshop, please read our website report.
MMN held a consultation meeting in Bangkok, Thailand, with migrant representatives and Bangkok-based non-governmental organisations on 25 June 2013, in order to ensure that issues raised at an upcoming meeting with the Immigration Bureau of the Thai government reflected the current situation. This preparatory meeting was attended by representatives of the Jesuit Refugee Service, the Foundation for Education and Development, the Foundation for AIDS Rights, and four migrant leaders from the Lat Krabang district of Bangkok. MMN presented key findings and recommendations emerging from the research to project partners. Participants then jointly strategised on how best to protect migrants’ rights during ADD processes, and prioritised issues for advocacy with the Thai Immigration Bureau. To learn more about the preparatory meeting, please refer to Annex Three of No Choice in the Matter: Migrants’ Experiences of Arrest, Detention and Deportation (2013).
On 28 June 2013, MMN held a meeting with the Deputy Superintendent 2, Investigation Division of the Immigration Bureau at the Bangkok Immigration Office to present MMN’s research findings as well as recommendations on ADD processes. Officials at the meeting commented on a number of issues raised by MMN, including migrants’ access to healthcare in Immigration Detention Centres (IDCs), conditions at IDCs, and mistakes arising from ADD processes. To read a detailed account of the Policy Dialogue, please refer to Annex Three of No Choice in the Matter: Migrants’ Experiences of Arrest, Detention and Deportation (2013).