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Window closes on Thai migrant registrations

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

Window closes on Thai migrant registrations

Almost 200,000 undocumented Cambodians in Thailand took advantage of a two-week window – which closed yesterday – to get their necessary paperwork in temporary registration centres.

A Thai law at the end of June imposed hefty fines on undocumented migrants and their employers if they were caught by police, though the implementation was suspended until December 31 following criticism. In part to prepare for the law to go into effect, 97 temporary centres were opened for workers to register.

According to the Thai Labour Ministry, 183,677 Cambodians had registered by the end of the day on Sunday. A Thai Employment Department official said that the number was “in accordance with . . . [what] the Ministry of Labour has anticipated.”

The Cambodian Labour Ministry and Foreign Affairs Ministry could not be reached.

But Dy The Hoya, of labour rights group Central, said that this number “can’t meet the needs of the huge numbers of undocumented migrants”, which he estimated to be about 400,000. “If the government does not extend the period of time . . . migrants might face having no money to pay off debts and employers might face a lack of labour,” he said.

Preeda Tongchumnum, a member of Migrant Working Group, said after visiting the Chiang Mai centre last week that it was “well organised”, but also called for an extension.

Those who didn’t register now have to return to Cambodia to become documented.

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