THAILAND BREACHES UNITED NATIONS HUMAN RIGHTS OF CHILDREN – After the incident of a 4 year old girl being repeatedly raped by a gang of Thai boys in a Family Detention Centre in Thailand the Thai authorities quickly responded, to fend off accusations of being incapable of dealing with such atrocities, by announcing it would segregate boys and girls over the age of 12 years old.
The move was quickly admonished by officials at Human Rights Watch and labeled it another ‘knee-jerk’ Thai response due to their unwillingness to deal with Human Rights abuses with a pragmatic approach.
This move, the Human Rights Watch group says, is a clear violation of children’s human rights under the UN Convention of Children’s Human Rights, Article 9 which states;
“Parties shall ensure that a child shall not be separated from his or her parents against their will, except when competent authorities subject to judicial review determine, in accordance with applicable law and procedures, that such separation is necessary for the best interests of the child. Such determination may be necessary in a particular case such as one involving abuse or neglect of the child by the parents, or one where the parents are living separately and a decision must be made as to the child’s place of residence.”
Staff at the Ministry of Social Development and Human Security was ordered to immediately remove boys aged 12 years and over form all of Thailand’s current family shelters. There are currently 77 family shelters in Thailand that house people sentenced for crimes and refugees; many of which are Rohingya that have fled the sectarian violence and abuse in Myanmar, formally known as Burma.
The Thai Government now plans to move ahead with segregating boys and girls at the age of 12 years and over simply because it cannot find another solution.
Some groups are suggesting that staffing levels at the facilities should not only be increased but staff should also undergo proper training in order to be able to effectively deal with families and especially their children.
Whilst the order has been given to segregate boys from girls some officials are left frustrated and clueless as to where Government officials expect to them to house these children. This again only enforces the Human Rights Watch belief that Thai officials are engaging in a ‘knee-jerk’ response without taking the time and effort to think the situation through or even the logistics of their plans.
The Governments plans are seen as nothing more than a way to rid themselves of the problem fast to avert international admonishment and yet its plan is ill conceived and breaks UN regulations which has further damaged the Thai Government’s ability to approach a problem systematically and pragmatically.
Human Rights Watch officials did say that whilst they appreciated the Thai Government’s efforts to quickly resolve the problem it is simply taking the wrong route and in doing so further exasperates the difficulties the Rohingya people have and certainly contravenes their international human rights obligations.
It is expected, that despite calls from the international community, that Thai officials will go ahead with their ill-conceived plan this weekend; starting with the family shelter in Phang Nga; just an hour away from the tourist island of Phuket.
The Human Rights Watch has warned the Thai Government that they are clearly breaking Article 9 of the UN Convention of the Rights of Children as such a move will separate children from their families against their will and without consent from their parents.
It could be argued that the Thai Government is complying with Article 9 under the section that states; “except when competent authorities subject to judicial review determine, in accordance with applicable law and procedures, that such separation is necessary for the best interests of the child.”
This argument, the Human Rights Watch feels, is inappropriate as the Thai Government has no clear plan on where these children will go and more critically how they will be cared for and therefore such action cannot be deemed ‘beneficial’ for the children.
The lack of planning by the Thai Government is evident when you look into their plans for dealing with the Rohingya refugees. Earlier this year the Thai Government announced an ‘unofficial’ six month deadline for dealing with all refugees and yet late last month, after failing to even provide plans, the Government extended that deadline for a further six months.
Other issues facing the Rohingya refugees is the ongoing aspect of Human Trafficking were it is suspected that a number of high ranking military and police officers are involved in selling Rohingya men and boys into the slave fishing trawler industry; a topic on which the U.S recently broached with Thailand in order to stamp out slavery on the high seas.
Other issues, and some consider far darker, are those of young women and underage girls who are sold onto people who force them into Thailand’s every growing prostitution industry; these have also been well documented by Human Rights groups and Foreign Governments.
We spoke to one insider who has declined to be named for fear of their safety;
“The Thai Government has continuously been presented with clear options on dealing with the Rohingya refugee. Unfortunately these suggestions are coming from foreign sources which Thais often refused to acknowledge in order to ‘save face’. It is a common fact that Thais do not take kindly to foreigner’s suggestions as this is often seen as interference rather than help.
The Thai Government has also refused to acknowledge that senior military officials or high ranking police officers are involved in the illicit trade of human trafficking despite a number being caught in the act.”
There appears to be a stalemate between western Governments and the Thai Government and yet unless the Thai Government are willing to look objectively at plans presented from western Governments and organisations then the issues can only worsen.
The U.S Government earlier this year warned Thailand that it would no longer protect it from being placed on the Human Rights Abuse list and that it must take all measures to improve the issues of human trafficking and slavery. It is expected that if Thailand does appear on the list next year it is likely to be listed as No.1 in the world for human rights abuses; above that of Iran, and will further damage its international reputation.