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The vulnerability of migrant workers to human rights abuses in Thailand, particularly along the ThaiMyanmar border, is well documented.59 Migrants face a host of formal restrictions on their rights to freedom of movement, freedom to form trade unions, and access to health care and education. Migrant workers frequently face violations of their labour rights including unpaid and forced overtime, dangerous working conditions, low salaries, unpaid salaries, abuse, restrictions on leaving the place of work, and confiscation of passport and/or work permits. Both documented and undocumented migrants find it extremely difficult and dangerous to complain about abuses of labour rights to Thai officials. Furthermore, migrants are frequently at direct risk from Thai officials through arbitrary detention, torture in detention, deportation and extortion. Officials are also commonly involved in or complicit in trafficking and smuggling of migrants which frequently leads to exposure to a host of abuses and impunity for both officials and civilians involved in related crimes. Human Rights Watch has found that ‚*g+overnment officials often regard migrant workers from neighboring countries as a potential danger to Thai communities, the interests of Thai workers, and national sovereignty‛60, which contributes to migrants’ vulnerability and the abuses they experience. The first two cases of enforced disappearances received by the UN Working Group on Enforced and Involuntary Disappearances involved two refugees from Myanmar who were allegedly arrested by the authorities on 22 May 1992 in the city of Ranong on suspicion of being illegal immigrants. WGEID reported that although the relatives were informed by the authorities that they would be able to see the subjects in court on 25 May 1992, neither appeared in court on that date.61 Documentation of violations experienced by migrant workers is extraordinarily difficult given the high level of warranted fear within the migrant community and NGOs working for migrants’ rights. JPF has documented two cases of enforced disappearances involving migrants: 

In 2006, a local NGO was assisting migrant workers from a ceramic factory, which was reported to be partly owned by a member of the Thai Army, in negotiations with their employer regarding bad working and living conditions. The workers selected a representative from among themselves to represent them in discussions with the factory. Both the employer and the workers went to the Labour Protection Office for a meeting. Their chosen representative went into the Office to begin the negotiation, however a policeman in uniform came and arrested the representative. The other workers went to the police detention centre to find him, however the police said they had already released him because they just wanted to ask him a few questions. He has never been seen again and the local NGO believes he was enforcedly disappeared. The workers continued to be harassed, even while staying in a safehouse, by the factory’s partowner who was reported that he possibly work with the Thai Army. On 24 January 2010, a group of 12 Karen migrant workers were traveling from Myanmar to Thailand, organised and guided by agents. Their boat crossed the Moei River and landed on the Thai-side of the border in Phop Phra district. They continued their journey by car and on foot during the night until reaching KM 48 where a man stood waiting for them. The group leader told them to run. Witnesses reported hearing shots fired while they ran away. Of the 12 people

See for example, Human Rights Watch, From the Tiger to the Crocodile: Abuse of Migrant Workers in Thailand, February 2010. 60 Human Rights Watch, From the Tiger to the Crocodile: Abuse of Migrant Workers in Thailand, February 2010, page 4. 61 UN Working Group on Enforced and Involuntary Disappearances, Annual Report, 30 December 1994, E/CN.4/1995/36. 59

Enforced Disappearances in Thailand  

Enforced Disappearances in Thailand