Arrest, Detention and Deportation


The arrest, detention, and deportation (ADD) of migrants in the Greater Mekong Subregion is widespread and, despite efforts by governments to regularise migrants and introduce new policies, documented experiences of migrants show that abuse, corruption, and disregard for human dignity continue unabated. ADD processes in Thailand and surrounding countries frequently run counter to international human rights standards, and the gulf between policies and practice leave migrants at risk of ADD, regardless of their registration status.

Taken near the border crossing between Poi Pet, Banteay Meanchey, Cambodia and Aranyaprathet, Sa Kaeo, Thailand (Photo: MMN/ John Hulme)

ADD has been one of MMN’s core focus areas for research and advocacy since the network’s founding. MMN believes that, in line with international standards, governments in the region should adopt genuine alternatives to ADD in managing its irregular migrant population and make ADD a method of last resort. Reform is needed to ensure that ADD processes are humane and transparent, in line with international human rights standards, and subject to independent legal oversight.

Over the years, MMN has conducted multiple studies on issues surrounding ADD and has held dialogues with different stakeholders, including policymakers in countries of origin and destination, civil society organisations, and international organisations. Our research and advocacy are based on extensive analysis of national and international policies and legislation, as well as the experiences of migrant workers and their families. MMN recommendations seek to incorporate migrants’ voices and respond to their needs.

For related further reading, please visit our main webpage on the Regularisation of Migrants

Related Initiatives

In June 2014, a sudden spike in the arrest and deportation of migrant workers in Thailand reportedly led to over 220,000 Cambodian migrants being repatriated or leaving Thailand within just a two-week period. This proved to be one of the largest mass movements of people in Southeast Asia since the 1970s and, in the face of this unprecedented phenomenon, both governmental and non-governmental agencies were struggling to meet the needs of those who returned to Cambodia…

Learn More

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.

Learn More

The idea for From our Eyes: Migrant Reflection was born at the workshop on Migration Trends and Responses in the Greater Mekong Subregion (GMS) and Beyond,  held on 31 August 2010 in Chiang Mai, and co-organised by MMN, MAP Foundation, and the Asian Migrant Centre…

Learn More

As information regarding policies concerning the arrest, detention, and deportation (ADD) of migrants was scarce in the 2000s, MMN organised a symposium held in September 2004  to initiate dialogue with policy makers and civil society representatives. Over the course of 2005 and 2006, MMN carried out a collaborative study on ADD practices in the Greater Mekong Subregion (GMS)…

Learn More

In 2004, MMN focused its collaborative research on issues surrounding arrest, detention, and deportation (ADD) processes, and the return and reintegration of migrants in the GMS. As existing information regarding policies concerning these issues was scarce, MMN and its partners organised the Mekong Symposium on Migration: Protecting Migrants’ Rights When They Leave the Host Country between 30 September and 2 October 2004 in Chiang Mai, Thailand…

Learn More


Resource Hub

MMN Online Tool on ADD

You will be redirected to MMN's online tool on arrest, detention, and deportation (ADD) developed in 2012. The webpage provides research findings, news, and information resources relating to ADD.