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Human Rights Watch Reports Thailand Indefinitely Detaining Thousands of Migrant Children

by Joshua Kurlantzick
September 2, 2014

rohingya-in-thailand Rohingya people from Myanmar, who were rescued from human traffickers, are kept in a communal cell at the Songkhla Immigration Detention Centre in Thailand near the border with Malaysia in this photo from February 13, 2014 (Damir Sagolj/Courtesy: Reuters).

As if Thailand’s international image hadn’t suffered enough, with a coup government trying to turn the clock back forty years, the country’s seafood industry being exposed as one of the worst examples of human trafficking and outright slavery in the world, and even neighboring Myanmar’s politics looking good by comparison, Human Rights Watch today released a lengthy report on the detention of migrant children in Thailand. The report is available here.

HRW’s report offers damning evidence and suggests even more reasons why it was correct for the United States government to drop Thailand into Tier 3, the worst offenders, in its annual report on trafficking in persons. It shows that the Thai government detains thousands of migrant children in horrible immigration detention facilities, which endanger the children’s health and social welfare. Often, the children have limited or no access to judicial reviews of their cases, and could be in these Thai detention centers indefinitely. The newest large influx of migrant children has come along with Rohingya fleeing the violence in western Myanmar over the past three years. Even by Thailand’s horrendously low standards of treatment of migrants from other countries, the treatment of the Rohingya has set a new low, with the Thai navy allegedly pushing Rohingya refugee boats back to sea or simply murdering Rohingya at sea, while also trapping some Rohingya into slavery in cahoots with human traffickers. Now, HRW reveals that Rohingya migrant children are, perhaps unsurprisingly, being abused in Thailand as well.

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