Child rights advocates have demanded a review of a draft regulation aimed at deporting children born to parents who are staying in Thailand illegally.
They say the regulation drafted by the Interior Ministry goes against the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC).
The ministerial regulation, if enforced, will make millions of children born to such parents _ including illegal migrant workers _ become "illegal immigrants" to be deported to their home countries, child rights advocate Pantip Saisunthorn said. She said the draft regulation was tantamount to pressing criminal charges against innocent children.
The measure runs counter to the constitution, the Child Protection Act as well as the UNCRC, she warned during a seminar on the impact of the draft regulation at the Thai Journalists Association yesterday.
Child rights advocates at the seminar called on the government to review or scrap the measure. The ministry plans to submit the draft for cabinet consideration on Tuesday.
The draft regulation, based on Section 7 of the Nationality Act, seeks to classify children born in Thailand but who are not granted Thai citizenship as "illegal immigrants". This will broadly make displaced persons' children, stateless children or children of migrant workers who enter the country illegally become illegal.
Human rights lawyer Surapong Kongchantuk, an expert on stateless people and migrants for the Lawyers Council of Thailand, said the law on granting citizenship was previously based on blood links with Thai parents, and children born to Thai parents would be automatically granted Thai citizenship.
After the 1992 Nationality Act was introduced, children born to those who were not granted Thai citizenship were allowed to temporarily stay in the country. Those people included migrant workers and ethnic minority people.
Warangkana Mutumol, coordinator of the Children on the Move project of Save the Children, said 300,000-500,000 children had been born to migrant workers living in Thailand.
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- Writer: Penchan Charoensuthipan