Rohingyas 'not trafficked' : NSC
The entry of Rohingya migrants into Thailand has been deemed illegal and not in accordance with the definition of crimes constituting human trafficking, meaning they will be subject to repatriation, the National Security Council concluded yesterday after a meeting with the Foreign Ministry.As a result, the Rohingyas, who are fleeing sectarian violence and ethnic cleansing in Myanmar's Rakhine state, will be allowed to stay on in Thailand for only six more months. However, temporary camps will not be built to accommodate them, NSC secretary-general Pharadorn Phatthanathabutr said.
Thai authorities are in the process of further handling the issues of relief assistance and possible relocation of the Rohingyas to third countries with the United Nations and other international agencies, Pharadorn said.
Thailand is paying per-head daily meal allowance of Bt75 for 1,390 Rohingyas now residing in here after they entered illegally, he added.
"A parallel process to seek long-term shelter in third countries is underway. Malaysia is one of those countries as the Rohingya immigrants want to go there. If not, they will be repatriated to existing Rohingya camps in Myanmar and Bangladesh under supervision of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees," Pharadorn said.
The repatriation operations, when carried out, will be implemented through a network of the UN Children's Fund, the International Committee of the Red Cross and the International Organisation for Migration.
To be defined as a human trafficking case, three conditions have to be met.
"Only detention and sheltering of the Rohingya immigrants have been found but not enslavement or forced prostitution," Pharadorn said, citing extensive civilian and police investigations into the Rohingyas' case.
A senior Department of Special Investigation official, Phaisit Sangkhahaphong, said the international legal definitions under human trafficking must contain either enslavement, forced prostitution, or slave labour, or torture or mutilation of victims’ bodies, with known destinations for the victims to be transferred to.
The criteria weren't met in the Rohingyas' case, Phaisit said, "although there have been systematic processes in smuggling the Rohingyas in and out of countries involved and sheltering them pending further transport".