The legal criteria for granting Thai nationality to stateless people must be strictly adhered to in the case of three members of the Moo Pa Academy football team and their coach, Interior Minister Anupong Paojinda said this morning.
The three young football players and their coach, Ekapol Chanthawong, are classified as stateless persons was they were born to families of illegal immigrants. All have already submitted applications for Thai nationality. Their legal status came to light after their plight in Tham Luang cave became known world-wide.
Gen Anupong said that district officers, provincial governors and even he himself are not legally entitled to grant Thai nationality to anyone unless proper legal procedure is followed.
The minister said those who apply for Thai nationality are required by the law to meet the legal criteria. He admitted that the process is always time-consuming as DNA and other evidence need to be verified.
Gen Anupong said people who were entitled to receive Thai nationality last year were born in Thailand and have stayed in the country for 15 years or longer, even though their parents did not enter the country legally. They were all required to prove they met the criteria.
Since 2014 about 20,000 stateless people have been granted Thai nationality, he added.