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Government Officials Responsible for Smuggling in Migrant Workers

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Myanmar, Migrants, Covid-19, Thailand

Thailand’s Prime Minister has told a press briefing that police are closing in on government officials implicated in human smuggling of illegal migrant workers.

Gen. Prayut Chan-o-cha said on Thursday police were verifying the identities of several government officials accused of being involved in human smuggling of migrants.  The information has been supplied to police through tip-offs to the government by netizens.

The breakthrough follows Gen. Prayut’s call for people to offer any information they had about government officials and influential people being involved in human smuggling. The activity is being blamed for causing a surge in Covid-19 infections in recent weeks.

The cabinet will next week consider a proposal by the Labour Ministry to temporarily allow illegal migrants to be registered in the Thai system making them legal. The move is intended to help stamp out and contain the spread of the virus, the Premier said.

Change in Migrant Labour Rules

Labour Minister Suchart Chomklin said a government-appointed committee tasked with managing migrant workers in Thailand had already agreed to the idea. The Labour minister was speaking after Thursday’s meeting of the Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration (CCSA) chaired by Gen Prayut.

The decree authorities the labour minister to consider allowing migrant workers in the country to legally work here temporarily. A decision that requires cabinet approval, said Mr Suchart.

However, since the matter concerns illegal entry, it also concerns Section 17 of the immigration law and the authority of the interior minister. For this reason, the cabinet will have to discuss all aspects of the registration proposal further.

If it gets the green light, employers will be able to simply submit details of their illegal workers online and apply for them to receive work permits.

Employers to Cover Covid-19 Testing

A key condition is that employers will have to cover the full cost of Covid-19 tests for each of their migrant workers, the labour minister said. The Public Health Ministry will determine later as to how much to charge for each test, he added.

Mr Suchart said he believed employers would be happy to foot the bill in exchange for their workers being granted legal status. He said he had asked Interior Minister Anupong Paojinda to help inform provincial governors of their need to collect information about illegal migrant workers in their regions.

Meanwhile, the Bangkok Post reports Immigration Bureau has revealed that a total of 61 illegal migrants, mostly Myanmar nationals, have been rounded up in crackdowns carried out in Bangkok and surrounding provinces.

None of them, however, has tested positive for Covid-19, said Pol Col Chiraphong Ruchiradamrongchai, chief investigator of Immigration Division 3 but all are awaiting deportation.

About 26,000 Myanmar illegal migrants have been deported from Thailand in 2020, said Pol Lt Gen Sompong Chingduang, commissioner of the Immigration Bureau.

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