Rights group calls for government to reconsider worker camp policy, uphold human rights standards

The government should reconsider its decision to stop Covid testing and providing healthcare for migrant workers who have been confined to camps, a Human Rights Watch representative told Thai Enquirer this Thursday.

The Ministry of Labour, which gave the order to halt the testing and offering healthcare assistance said on Wednesday that it is unable to conduct Covid-19 tests in sealed up construction worker camps because the Bangkok Governor’s office will not give it the necessary permission. (Read more here)

“The ministry’s decision is discriminatory and blatantly shows disregard of Thailand’s obligations to uphold labor standards and human rights during the pandemic,” said Sunai Phasuk, a senior researcher on Thailand in Human Rights Watch’s Asia division.

“It will also become a ticking time bomb that threatens the already strained public health structure with many undetected and untreated new cases. The Prime Minster needs to immediately quash this senseless policy,” he added.

The government has ordered a lockdown on more than 1,300 construction worker camps with about 80,000 workers living inside them since June 27.

The government said that it would pay half the wages of the workers and that food and water would be provided.

However, many investigations reveal that the government is not sending enough food and water to the camps with some having yet to receive any help from the government at all.

Companies, contractors, and volunteer groups have been working together to supply food and water to the migrant workers who are being guarded by armed security personnel.

Labor Minister Suchart Chomklin said on Monday that the government will now send more food and water to 520 camps in Bangkok and 797 camps in five surrounding provinces between July 12 and 27.

He did not explain why the government did not send enough food and water but said that companies should help their workers and that they cannot wait on support from the government.

He also said on Wednesday that they government has yet send any monetary compensation to the companies, contractors, Thai workers and migrant workers that have been affected by the lockdown.

“The matter should enter the cabinet next week…and we have to be careful about it in order to minimize mistake,” he said.

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