Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Thousands of migrants must depart Thailand

Thousands of migrants must depart Thailand

Migrant workers wait to be processed at the registration centre in Chiang Mai in Thailand earlier this month.
Migrant workers wait to be processed at the registration centre in Chiang Mai in Thailand earlier this month. Human Rights and Development Foundation in Thailand

Thousands of migrants must depart Thailand

More than 3,300 undocumented Cambodian migrant workers, including children, have been deemed ineligible for legal status in interviews with the Thai Labour Ministry and will now have to leave the country, according to Thailand’s Employment Department.

In June, Thailand imposed hefty fines and prison terms on undocumented migrants and their employers, but suspended their implementation until December 31.

During a two-week window that ended on August 7, workers were able register with the Employment Department to get documented. The department is now interviewing employees and employers to verify their relationships, among other criteria.

Workers who didn’t register, or didn’t pass the interview, will now have to leave the country, an official of the Employment Department said, requesting anonymity as he was not authorised to speak to the press.

“If migrants don’t pass the interview, they have to go back to their country and return under a memorandum of understanding [MoU],” he said.

The process to migrate under the Thai-Cambodian MoU has been criticised as being too expensive and time-consuming.

Those who pass, the official said, will have to apply for passports with the Cambodian Embassy in Thailand to become legal and evade the punishment.

According to an Employment Department database, 3,355 Cambodians among a group of more than 9,000 migrants from the region didn’t pass the interview as of yesterday evening.

Among these 9,000 were almost 800 minors who were ineligible for legal status because they were younger than 15. More than 100 were aged between 15 and 18 years, but failed because they were registered for work they weren’t allowed to perform.

Mom Sokchar, programme manager at Legal Support for Children and Women, expressed concern for the minors who weren’t allowed to stay. “Families might be separated,” he said. “The Thai government should respect the right to family.”

Dy The Hoya, of labour rights group Central, said children were particularly vulnerable because they didn’t have a path to becoming legal. “Most of them don’t even know whether they’re legal or illegal,” he said.

Almost 400,000 migrants have been interviewed so far. In total, more than 223,000 Cambodians will be interviewed.

About 1,500 Cambodian migrants failed the interview because they were found not to work for the employers they registered with before June 23. However, the majority were weeded out for reasons not published.

The Foreign Affairs Ministry and Cambodian Embassy could not be reached yesterday.

This article was corrected to clarify that the number of underaged migrants was found among a group of more than 9,000 migrants from the region and not only from Cambodia. The Post apologises for the error.

MOST VIEWED

  • Cambodia to waive quarantine requirements Nov 15, no PCR test required

    Prime Minister Hun Sen has decided to lift all quarantine requirements for fully vaccinated travellers and visitors – both Cambodians and foreign nationals – effective from November 15 onward. In a special message addressed to officials and relevant authorities on November 14, Hun Sen said this policy will enable

  • PM: No more quarantine for vaccinated travellers

    Cambodia is lifting all quarantine requirements for vaccinated inbound travellers entering Cambodia by air, waterway or land border checkpoints effective from November 15. Travellers will be required to take a rapid antigen test on arrival rather than waiting for the results of the lengthier polymerase chain

  • No payment required for travellers taking rapid Covid tests on arrival

    Ministry of Health officials said there would be no payment required for the rapid Covid-19 tests given to travellers who arrive in Cambodia from November 15 onwards after the quarantine requirement is lifted for fully vaccinated people. Health ministry spokeswoman Or Vandine told The Post on

  • General’s gun smuggling ring busted

    The Military Police sent six military officers to court on November 22 to face prosecution for possession of 105 illegal rifles and arms smuggling, while investigators say they are still hunting down additional accomplices. Sao Sokha, deputy commander of the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces and commander of

  • More Cambodians studying in US

    The number of Cambodian students studying at US colleges and universities in 2020-21 increased by 14.3 per cent over the previous year despite the Covid-19 pandemic, according to a recent US government report. The 2021 Open Doors report on International Educational Exchange showed that 848 Cambodian students studied

  • Cambodia, Thailand to discuss border reopening

    Cambodian authorities from provinces along the Cambodia-Thailand border will meet with Thai counterparts to discuss reopening border checkpoints to facilitate travel, transfer of products and cross-border trade between the two countries. Banteay Meanchey provincial deputy governor Ly Sary said on November 22 that the provincial administration