Certificates of identity to be issued to Burmese workers in Thailand

Thai officials will start issuing certificate of identity (CI) to Burmese migrant workers to prove they are Burmese citizens at six service centres in Thailand, The Irrawaddy Online reported on Wednesday.

U San Yu Kyaw, the consul from the Burmese Consulate in Chiang Mai, said at a workshop in Chiang Mai on Wednesday that the CI service centres would open in Mae Sai in Chiang Rai, Mae Sot in Tak province, Ranong and Samut Sakhon. There will also be two centres in Mahachai.

The workshop was organized by Thailand’s Human Rights and Development Foundation to spread knowledge of the procedures of issuing CIs to migrants who do not have legal documents.

At the workshop, migrants talked about the difficulties and inconveniences of reporting to immigration officials every 90 days, being exploited by agents regarding documentation and problems concerning wages.

Over 160 participants, mostly Burmese migrant workers in Chiang Mai, joined the workshop.

Sugarnta Sookpata, a migrant worker advisor from the foundation, said obtaining a CI was a step toward getting a Burmese passport. She said that the current practice of publishing policy updates on Thai government websites was not enough.

Sugarnta urged Burmese government to issue legal passports at service centres in Chiang Mai so as to save migrant workers the time and money required to go to Bangkok.

However, Thai and Burmese governments are still in negotiations on how to proceed with migrant workers whose legal documentation will expire while they are still working in Thailand. It is unclear which document holders could apply for a CI.