Thai Government Policy to Re-Open Migrant Registration Should Be Supported But Rights of Migrants and Their Families Must Also Be Protected

Currently there are more than 2 million migrant workers contributing significantly to the Thai economy. At least one million of these workers remain unregistered. The Royal Thai Government’s (RTG) migrant worker registration systems remain onerous, impractical and provide few incentives for migrants and their employers to comply or sign up. The civil society and labour organizations listed below, together with migrant worker representatives, have therefore joined together today to make the following statement:

1. We support the recent announcement by the RTG on reopening migrant registration in Thailand as it will assist to reduce low skilled labour shortages and increase opportunities for migrants to access rights, in particularly health and labour rights. Previously, RTG’s migrant worker registration programmes have provided few incentives for migrants and employers to comply. Challenges with these programmes have been as follows: migrant registration has been for too short a time; activities migrant workers could register to do were unrealistically restricted given work migrants currently undertake in Thailand; migrants and their employers have rarely received registration information; registration has rarely included dependents and children of migrants; and registration processes have been too complex and costly, instead opening the way for brokers to become involved and exploit migrants. Migrant worker registration processes should in the future be revisedand conducted as follows: the RTG should conduct effective public awareness raising of the upcoming registration process, specifically in the languages of migrant workers and using all forms of media; migrant registration should be for no less than 6 months in duration; migrants should be able to register whether or not they have an employer and be provided with 3 months to find an employer; and migrant registration should include workers dependents, particularly children. Migrants currently in the country should be encouraged to register before RTG focus on bringing in new workers via MOU processes.

2. A long term RTG policy on management of migrants and their dependents is urgently needed. Such a policy should be devised considering both economic need and human rights. In addition, clear mechanisms and a central organization should be created to manage migration so that policies devised are consistent with regional migration trends.

3. Urgent measures need to be implemented to ensure genuine enforcement of the law to protect migrants’ human rights. Mechanisms need to be developed to ensure migrants can easily complain and access justice in response to rights violations, education and awareness processes on migrant rights should be strengthened and the ongoing crackdown on unregistered migrants should cease. All migrants and their dependents should be encouraged to register.

4. The RTG should promote the inclusiveness of migration policy development processes so as to include NGOs, labour organizations and migrants. All these actors should be involved in planning and implementing together the upcoming new registration processes.

Supporting Signatories to This Statement

Prevention on HIV/AIDS Amongst Migrant Workers in Thailand (PHAMIT)

Action Network for Migrant (ANM)

Migrant Working Group (MWG)

State Enterprise Workers Relations Confederation (SERC)

Thai Labour Solidarity Committee (TLSC)

Raks Thai Foundation

Foundation for Aids Rights (FAR)


MAP Foundation

Human Rights and Development Foundation (HRDF)


Social Development Association (SDA)

Burmese Association in Thailand