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    Govt extends migrants’ detention another 6 months

    Thailand detention centers
    August 30, 2013
                          
    The government has agreed to hold about 2,000 Rohingya migrants in
    detention centres nationwide for another six months, Deputy Prime Minister
    Pracha Promnok said on Thursday.
    The migrants were
    originally due to remain in the centres for six months while the government
    assessed options for their relocation, but that initial deadline passed last
    month. The new detention deadline would now end in January.
    The deputy PM, who
    oversees national security, was responding to an opposition request for details
    on the government’s policy to deal with the Rohingya migrants.
    The request was
    made during a parliamentary session yesterday by Democrat MP for Bangkok Samart
    Maluleem.
    Mr Samart said more
    than 2,000 Rohingya were being detained at immigration detention centres. He
    said he was concerned by overcrowding in the centres.
    Pol Gen Pracha said
    the Rohingya, most of whom travelled by boat to escape religious unrest in Myanmar’s
    Rakhine state, had breached the 1979 Immigration Act.
    The law allows
    immigration officers to detain them only at Immigration Bureau detention
    centres. However, some Rohingya women and children   with health problems are being held at
    shelters operated by the Ministry of Social Development and Human Security. Pol
    Gen Pracha said the government was also concerned about the living conditions
    of the Rohingya.
    He said the Foreign
    Ministry would use the detention deadline extension to hold talks with international
    organisations to explain the government’s policy in caring for the migrants.
    The ministry has
    already held talks with Myanmar and asked it to help repatriate the Rohingya.
    Myanmar, however, has expressed doubts about the origin of the migrants, saying
    it needed verification of of their identities.
    National Human
    Rights Commissioner Niran Pithakwatchara, who oversees the Rohingya problem,
    said he would ask the government next week to help provide the Rohingya with
    proper shelters and to raise the problem at an Asean forum.
    “It is not
    just a Thai problem, it is one for all Asean countries,” Dr Niran said.
    Meanwhile, four
    Rohingya who earlier escaped from Singkhorn detention centre in Prachuap Khiri
    Khan’s Muang district were apprehended in Bang Saphan district yesterday.
    Police said they were attempting to reach Malaysia.