Re­newed push to le­galise mi­grant work­ers in Thai­land to start later this month

The Myanmar Times - - News - NYAN LYNN AUNG nyan­lin­aung@mm­times.com

MYAN­MAR mi­grant work­ers in Thai­land will be is­sued with Cer­tifi­cates of Iden­tity be­fore the end of Novem­ber, in a joint ef­fort by the Thai gov­ern­ment and Myan­mar’s Min­istry of Labour, Im­mi­gra­tion and Pop­u­la­tion.

The min­istry says the Thai gov­ern­ment has given a green light to set­ting up six one-stop ser­vice cen­tres around the coun­try.

U Thein Win, director of the min­istry’s Mi­grant Af­fairs Depart­ment, said the Thai gov­ern­ment is co­op­er­at­ing on the Cer­tifi­cate of Iden­tity (CI) project.

“We have al­ready trained teams to send there, but we need more time for pro­cess­ing,” he said.

U Thein Win says suc­cess­ful im­ple­men­ta­tion of the project is key, and if car­ried out prop­erly it should edge out ex­ploita­tive bro­kers.

The gov­ern­ment hopes to dole out more than 640,000 CIs in a re­newed push to le­galise un­doc­u­mented mi­grant work­ers in Thai­land.

More than half a mil­lion Myan­mar mi­grant work­ers are cur­rently stuck in limbo af­ter Thai­land’s lat­est an­nounce­ment about yet an­other se­ries of dead­lines and reg­is­tra­tion pro­cesses for for­eign work­ers.

The mo­men­tum for boost­ing mi­grant worker pro­tec­tions that came with State Coun­sel­lor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi’s July visit to Thai­land ap­pears to have fiz­zled out, with agree­ments over doc­u­men­ta­tion mak­ing lit­tle head­way in the in­terim.

Myan­mar of­fi­cials have blamed Thai­land for the de­lay. Mi­grant worker rights groups say fin­ger-point­ing is only leav­ing work­ers – al­ready no strangers to quixotic doc­u­men­ta­tion an­nounce­ments – in yet an­other le­gal lurch.

The lat­est tus­sle be­gan in April when Thai­land in­val­i­dated a “tem­po­rary pass­port” sys­tem. The 1 mil­lion Myan­mar work­ers hold­ing those two-year doc­u­ments were told to sign up for the legally du­bi­ous “pink card” sys­tem in­stead. The work­ers who fol­lowed the di­rec­tive and re-regis­tered were sup­posed to be granted “cer­tifi­cates of iden­tity”. But no progress has oc­curred since. “We can start the process of is­su­ing CIs at the end of this month,” said U Thein Win.

The Thai­land-based Mi­grant Worker Rights Net­work said the rea­sons for is­su­ing cer­tifi­cates of iden­tity are still un­clear. How­ever, it char­ac­terised the cer­tifi­cates as a “half­way-style ver­i­fi­ca­tion doc­u­ment” that would re­quire fol­low-up – and likely more fees – in or­der to ob­tain a Myan­mar pass­port.

“This shows how poor re­la­tions and co­or­di­na­tion be­tween Myan­mar and Thai­land con­tinue to be on mi­gra­tion is­sues,” said MWRN chair U Sein Htay, point­ing out that at least the pink card sys­tem al­lows rel­a­tive ease of move­ment.

“If the Myan­mar gov­ern­ment is­sued tem­po­rary pass­ports to mi­grant work­ers in­stead, the work­ers would be much bet­ter po­si­tioned un­der the law,” he added.

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