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Human Rights Watch says Thailand should free detained migrants

Caitlin Ashworth

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PHOTO: VOA News

A significant number of migrants in Thailand’s Songkhla immigration detention centre have the coronavirus and the Human Rights Watch is saying all them should be free due to the dangers of the coronavirus pot the other detainees.

In an article urging the release of the migrants, the HRW said the virus infections “spread like wildfire in squalid lockup” and that the conditions in the detention centre on the Malaysian border were “overcrowded and unhygienic”.

Calls have been made by other activists to free detained migrants all over the world amid the pandemic.

18 of the 65 detainees, as well as an immigration officer, have tested positive for Covid-19, according to the HRW. However, last week the Bangkok Post reported that 42 migrant workers tested positive at the Songkla centre. The immigration bureau wants to transfer 26 Rohingya women to another detention centre in Hat Yai to help prevent an outbreak.

“Regardless of the numbers, there seems to be a problem with the conditions at the detention centre and containment of the virus.”

And when it comes to the simple practice of social distancing, it’s apparently almost impossible in the detention centre where people are crammed together in the same space and sharing bathrooms. The HRW claims medical care is inadequate in Thailand’s detention centres.

The HRW says they should at least find ways to provide adequate space for social distancing.

And since it is still unsafe for migrants to return to their home countries, the HRW suggests a temporary moratorium on police checks which would ultimately prevent the overcrowding and risk of exposure to the virus at detention facilities.

The HRW says the lack of action to protect migrants and the “wretched” conditions they endure makes Thailand’s frequent claims about respecting the rights and welfare of migrants “ring hollow.”

SOURCE: Human Rights Watch | Bangkok Post

 

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Caitlin Ashworth is a writer from the United States who has lived in Thailand since 2018. She graduated from the University of South Florida St. Petersburg with a bachelor’s degree in journalism and media studies in 2016. She was a reporter for the Daily Hampshire Gazette In Massachusetts. She also interned at the Richmond Times-Dispatch in Virginia and Sarasota Herald-Tribune in Florida.

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