No refugee is safe

18 02 2019

What is a refugee? Wikipedia helps:

To receive refugee status, a person must have applied for asylum, making them—while waiting for a decision—an asylum seeker. However, a displaced person otherwise legally entitled to refugee status may never apply for asylum, or may not be allowed to apply in the country they fled to and thus may not have official asylum seeker status.

Once a displaced person is granted refugee status they enjoy certain rights as agreed in the 1951 Refugee convention. Not all countries have signed and ratified this convention and some countries do not have a legal procedure for dealing with asylum seekers.

Thailand has never become a party to that 1951 convention. In essence, that means that no refugee is safe in Thailand.

We make this observation in the context of a Bangkok Post report of an interview with Chatchom Akapin, director-general of the Office of the Attorney General’s International Affairs Department.

Chatchom seeks to explain the debacle over the case of Hakeem al Araibi, who was granted refugee status by Australia but was arrested in Thailand and faced deportation to Bahrain.

The Post and Chatchom paint Thailand as being “caught” between Bahrain and Australia. This is may be true, but it ignores the fact that Thailand did not need to respond to Bahrain’s extradition request or to the quickly withdrawn Interpol red notice. The case was entirely Thailand’s responsibility as it held the footballer.

Chatchom shows how decidedly dull Thai officials can be and how they are reluctant to “impose” on their higher-ups. He states:

Bahrain asked to have Hakeem extradited to face prosecution by showing evidence he committed the wrongdoing and had been convicted by the court…. We considered this fell into the criteria where we could assist in line with legal principles so we filed the case with the court….

On the Australian government’s granting refugee status, Chatcom declares: “We considered that this point was irrelevant as the wrongdoing had been committed before he was granted the refugee status in Australia…”.

This makes clear that no refugee is safe in Thailand. Refugee status counts for nothing (except where other political, monarchical or military considerations are considered). Refugee status can be used for or against an individual, as seen in the two cases last month.


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20 02 2019
On not doing the human thing | Political Prisoners in Thailand

[…] is likely our last PPT post on the Hakeem al-Araibi case. Our last post was about failures on the Thai […]

20 02 2019
On not doing the human thing | Political Prisoners of Thailand

[…] is likely our last PPT post on the Hakeem al-Araibi case. Our last post was about failures on the Thai […]