Thailand Sets Long-Awaited Rules for Vetting Asylum Seekers

Rights groups say the long-awaited rules Thailand’s government approved this month for screening foreigners seeking refuge from persecution in their home countries are likely to leave many worthy applicants in the lurch.

The United Nations refugee agency says Thailand currently hosts about 5,000 “urban refugees and asylum seekers,” though some rights groups say the real number may be much higher.

Thailand currently makes no official distinction between refugees or asylum seekers and other foreigners in the country illegally, leaving those seeking sanctuary at constant risk of arrest and a forced return home, where they may face arrest, torture or death.

Authorities often give refugees the chance to lay low or move to third countries, but forced more than 100 ethnic Uyghurs back to China in 2015 and four wanted political dissidents back to Cambodia, where they were promptly arrested, late last year.

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Zsombor Peter