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Thai government urged to offer amnesty to illegal migrants and their employers

Maya Taylor




The Thai government is being urged to grant amnesty to undocumented migrant workers in the Kingdom and to extend the reprieve to their employers. The call has been picked up by a number of Thai media outlets, as well as Thai citizens concerned about the latest Covid-19 outbreak.

Those calling for the amnesty say it would stop workers fleeing quarantine detention because they fear arrest and would prevent bosses abandoning illegal workers by the side of the road. At least one employer in the Covid hotspot of Samut Sakhon is believed to have dumped 24 workers by the roadside. It’s understood some bosses fear being arrested for using illegal workers, while others are panicked by the threat of Covid-19. To date, most of the cases in the latest outbreak have been detected in migrant workers.

It’s hoped an amnesty would grant workers the time to gain legal status and a work permit, without fear of prosecution, while helping bosses to register their staff through the correct legal channels. The Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration is expected to discuss the proposal when it meets today, although it’s thought any amnesty would require approval by the Thai Cabinet.

Meanwhile, the CCSA has addressed a backlash against migrant workers from some panicked quarters, pointing out the vital contribution they make to Thai industry. CCSA spokesman Taweesin Visanuyothin has called on Thais to view the workers as their “brothers and sisters”.

Migrant workers are also being offered free Covid-19 tests, as the government hopes to persuade as many as possible to get tested for the virus.

SOURCE: The Pattaya News


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  1. Avatar

    Issan John

    Thursday, December 24, 2020 at 10:12 am

    Yesterday, reportedly “PM Prayut Chan-o-cha said the authorities will allow undocumented migrant workers to obtain a temporary ID card in order to offer them a reprieve during the ongoing virus outbreak.”

  2. Avatar

    James Pate

    Thursday, December 24, 2020 at 11:08 am

    Amnesty for the workers! Nothing for the employers!

  3. Avatar

    John Brown

    Thursday, December 24, 2020 at 11:52 am

    This doesn’t work unless they also lockdown strictly (a “scientific lockdown”) and take away illegal migrants’ and their employers’ and traffickers’ incentives to carry on – which an amnesty on its own only bolsters.

    In situations where people are willing to slightly add to collective cost in order to obtain large personal benefit, what’s necessary is to re-design the inventive model correctly – not just add or remove punitive elements based on political climate. A general amnesty will not help unless there is either an accompanying deterrent or deprival or opportunity to help funnel the flow. Otherwise you end up incentivizing people to aim not for amnesty but for continuing to evade public health requirements and taking amnesty as the backup plan when caught.

    A correctly-implemented and -enforced, only-essential services-allowed lockdown not only fixes outbreaks at any scale rapidly (exponentially – at the inverse rate of unchecked transmission), it also breaks the supply chain incentive to continue smuggling in illegal workers, as the transport would become highly visible and the end result fruitless anyway (there is no drought on work and pay).

    This only works temporarily, of course, while the lockdown is in place. But after outbreaks are fully contained, the amnesty would also need to end for other reasons.

    We should be so lucky that policy-makers can arrive to a systemic view of the landscape they’re trying to re-design.

    • Avatar

      Issan John

      Thursday, December 24, 2020 at 4:07 pm

      I think you’d be pushing your luck trying to justify a lockdown to “break the supply chain incentive to continue smuggling in illegal workers”!

      I realise you’re keen on a lockdown to stop the virus spreading, and if it could be justified for that reason I’m sure people would accept it (IF), but I can’t see any way that anyone’s going to accept a lockdown if they think it’s being done (even in part) to stop illegal immigrants being smuggled in.

  4. Avatar


    Thursday, December 24, 2020 at 12:01 pm

    They have to use illegal workers because the legally registered ones are too busy running their own businesses.

  5. Avatar

    Toby Andrews

    Thursday, December 24, 2020 at 2:51 pm

    I’m guessing now, but I think they had amnesty anyway.
    Does a building site full of workers ever have an inspection? I doubt it.
    There are so many foreign workers in Thailand that there must be some sort of bribe system in play.
    The Thais will not enforce laws that prevents them using cheap labour from over the borders, legal or not.
    If the Thais are paid enough, they will even let a rich man’s son kill a policeman and escape justice. Witness the Red Bull outrage, and still not arrested – not even on the Interpol wanted list!
    Thais have the morality of lizards.

    • Avatar

      Issan John

      Thursday, December 24, 2020 at 4:11 pm

      NO, Toby A, there’s no amnesty.

      Some of your comments are very fair, but as always you destroy any validity you have with your broad brush racism and bitterness because they wouldn’t let you stay here any more.

      • Avatar

        Toby Andrews

        Thursday, December 24, 2020 at 6:25 pm

        Yes two days after I crossed the border to Cambodia, Thailand closed the border.
        Just to keep me out!!!
        The order must have been out, as soon as that person leaves – shut the borders!


        • Avatar

          Issan John

          Thursday, December 24, 2020 at 10:28 pm

          I doubt it was “just to keep [you] out”, Toby – not extending your visa was probably more than sufficient.

          • Avatar

            Toby Andrews

            Thursday, December 24, 2020 at 11:08 pm

            I never tried to extend my visa. I saw what the Thais would likely do and fled.

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