CHIANGRAI – Thailand’s reputation in the international arena will be badly affected if the government approves a ministerial regulation potentially affecting millions of stateless children living in Thailand, a legal expert said yesterday.
Activists are calling on the government to suspend the drafting of this regulation and instead develop policies that will guarantee a legal status and grant equality to all children born in the Kingdom.
If the proposed law comes into effect, millions of non-Thai youngsters who enter the country illegally, stateless children and those born in Thailand to migrant parents but who have not been registered will end up being deported and separated from their parents or caretakers. This will also put them at the risk of abuse and child trafficking.
“This draft regulation goes against the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, especially since Thailand is part of the international community which joined this convention,” Warangkana Mutumol from Save the Children organisation said.
She was speaking at a seminar held at the Thai Journalists Association to discuss the impact the draft ministerial regulation would have on migrant and stateless children residing in Thailand.
The Interior Ministry has put the draft up for Cabinet consideration. According to the regulation, only children who have registered with the Interior Ministry will be granted the right to live in the Kingdom for as long as their parents get to stay here.
Those who were born in Thailand but have not been registered or do not hold Thai nationality will be considered illegal immigrants and will be deported.
This ministerial regulation does not conform to the path leading to the Asean Economic Community, which aims to facilitate more trade between members. The regulation will limit the mobility of people and mark unregistered migrants as criminals, the experts said.
Surapong Kong-janteuk, who heads the Lawyers Council’s human-rights subcommittee on stateless, migrant workers and displaced people, said the government should provide legal protection for these children and should not treat them as criminals.
“These children must be given Thai nationality and be protected by law,” he said. – PONGPHON SARNSAMAK