Archive for March, 2013

March 30, 2013

THAILAND: Children’s immigration status under threat

Click on the link to get more news and video from original source: http://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/WO1303/S00302/thailand-childrens-immigration-status-under-threat.htm

THAILAND: Children’s immigration status under threat

Saturday, 30 March 2013, 1:27 pm
Press Release: Asian Human Rights Commission

A Statement by the Asian Human Rights Commission

THAILAND: Children’s legal and immigration status under threat from draft ministerial regulation

The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) has received deeply concerning information from Stateless Watch for Research and Development Institute of Thailand (SWIT) regarding a recent draft ministerial regulation proposed by the Ministry of Interior. If it enters into law, the draft Ministerial Regulation Specifying the Status and Conditions of Residing in the Kingdom of Thailand for Persons Born in the Kingdom of Thailand Who Are Not Thai Nationals, currently under examination by the Council of Ministers, will dispossess children born to non-Thai parents of citizenship. Under the draft regulation, children, and adults born in Thailand, to non-Thai parents will be deemed to have entered and resided in Thailand without permission under the Immigration Act B.E. 2522 (1979). This will be the case even though they were born in Thailand and have not left the country, and so therefore have not entered the country, whether legally or illegally. The draft regulation is contrary to domestic and international law, including that specified in conventions to which Thailand is a state party and is therefore legally bound to observe.

The Ministry of Interior recently drafted a ministerial regulation which prescribes the legal status and conditions of residing in the Thailand of persons born in Thailand who have not yet acquired Thai nationality. At present, the draft regulation is waiting for approval from the Council of Ministers. If the Council of Ministers approves this draft, it will be subordinate legislation, or legislation made by executive order under powers granted by the legislature to the Ministry of Interior. Under the draft regulation, many children and adults born in Thailand to non-Thai parents will not acquire Thai nationality. This means that their legal status will be that of an illegal immigrant, and they will be cast as those who have entered and resided in Thailand without permission.

The draft Ministerial Regulation Specifying the Status and Conditions of Residing in the Kingdom of Thailand for Persons Born in the Kingdom of Thailand Who Are Not Thai Nationals is contrary to law in the following ways:

1. The draft ministerial regulation is contrary to the spirit of Section 7. bis. paragraph three of the Nationality Act (No.4) B.E.2551 (2008). Section 7. bis. paragraph three aims to recognize the right to reside in Thailand of children and others born on Thai territory who have not acquired Thai nationality. By assigning these persons the status of illegal immigrants, the draft ministerial regulation is directly contrary to the spirit of the law.

2.The draft ministerial regulation is contrary to Section 2 of the Criminal Code, Section 39 of Constitution of the Kingdom of Thailand B.E. 2550 (2007), Article 15 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and Article11(2) of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR). Each of these laws protect individuals from being charged or punished for criminal acts that they did not commit. The draft ministerial regulation provides that the individuals in question shall be deemed to have entered and resided in the Kingdom of Thailand without permission under immigration law, even though they were born in Thailand. They will be criminally punished even though they have not committed criminal acts.

3. Article 2 of the draft ministerial regulation specifies that in line with Section 7 bis paragraph one of the Nationality Act, B.E.2508 as amended by the Nationality Act (No.2), B.E. 2535(1992), a person born in Thailand does not acquire Thai nationality if his or her father and mother, or father or mother did not lawfully enter Thailand. The person shall be deemed to have entered and resided in the Kingdom of Thailand without permission. As most of the people potentially affected by this draft ministerial regulation are children, the AHRC would like to point out that it is in conflict with Section 22 of the Child Protection Act, B.E.2546 (2003), which notes that, “The treatment of a child in any case shall give primary importance to the best interests of the child and any discrimination of an unfair nature shall not be allowed”; a similar protection of the best interests of the child is contained in Article 3 (1) of the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), to which Thailand is a state party. Remaining with his or her parents is clearly in the best interests of a child, yet this draft ministerial regulation attempts to punish children for doing so.

4.Given that as noted above, the draft ministerial regulation is contrary to both Thai and international law, if it is passed, the Ministry of Interior will have committed an unlawful act. The AHRC also notes that the Ministry of Interior would be acting beyond its scope, and given the probable effects noted, would therefore constitute an abuse of power.

5. Section 3, paragraph two of the 2007 Constitution mandates that “The National Assembly, the Council of Ministers, the Courts, other Constitutional organizations and State agencies shall perform duties of office by the rule of law.” The draft Ministerial Regulation Specifying the Status and Conditions of Residing in the Kingdom of Thailand for Persons Born in the Kingdom of Thailand Who Are Not Thai Nationals is in clear and direct tension with the rule of law; by declining to approve it, the Council of Ministers will show their clear commitment to upholding the rule of law.

The Asian Human Rights Commission would like to remind the Government of Thailand that in addition to obligations under domestic law, as a state party to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), Thailand is legally-bound to uphold the human rights principles named therein. If the draft Ministerial Regulation Specifying the Status and Conditions of Residing in the Kingdom of Thailand for Persons Born in the Kingdom of Thailand Who Are Not Thai Nationals goes into force, children will be dispossessed of citizenship and the exclusion present within ultra-nationalist versions of Thai-ness will be legally codified by the state. The AHRC calls on the Council of Ministers to withhold approval of this draft ministerial regulation and the Ministry of Interior to work to strengthen, not dismantle, the rights of stateless children and people in Thailand.

# # #

About AHRC: The Asian Human Rights Commission is a regional non-governmental organisation that monitors human rights in Asia, documents violations and advocates for justice and institutional reform to ensure the protection and promotion of these rights. The Hong Kong-based group was founded in 1984.
ends

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March 30, 2013

Vietnam ‘secret army’ vets gathering in Conn.

 

Vietnam ‘secret army’ vets gathering in Conn.

Click on the link to get more news and video from original source: http://www.newstimes.com/news/article/Lao-veterans-of-Vietnam-War-to-celebrate-service-4395124.php#photo-4397279

By STEPHEN KALIN, Associated Press

Updated 8:40 pm, Friday, March 29, 2013

This undated photo provided by the SGU National Headquarters shows former Maj. Sar Phouthasack. Phouthasack was part of the Special Guerrilla Unit, known as the “secret army” that the CIA established to conduct covert operations in Laos, where North Vietnamese forces were operating but U.S. forces were forbidden by Congress to enter. He helped organize a daylong event in New Britain on Saturday, March 30, 2013, to honor the special unit of Lao and ethnically Hmong men who were organized and funded by the CIA. Photo: SGU National Headquarters

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — Early in the Vietnam War, the U.S. military trained former Maj. Sar Phouthasack in special combat operations and sent him back into his native Laos to put together a local force to patrol the Ho Chi Minh Trail, rescue downed U.S. pilots and conduct sensitive operations behind enemy lines.

Phouthasack was part of the Special Guerrilla Unit, known as the “secret army” that the CIA established to conduct covert operations in Laos, where North Vietnamese forces were operating but U.S. forces were forbidden by Congress to enter.

More than 35,000 local fighters from the unit died in combat in Laos, and thousands eventually relocated to the U.S. and became citizens.

Phouthasack helped organize a daylong event in New Britain on Saturday to honor the special unit of Lao and ethnically Hmong men who were organized and funded by the CIA. About 200 veterans are expected to gather from around the country in an event that is part of the U.S. Department of Defense‘s multi-year commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the Vietnam War.

Since arriving in the U.S., the former fighters have not been eligible to receive military veterans benefits. In the coming weeks, unit veterans and the SGU National Headquarters in Windsor, Conn., say they will petition Congress for formal recognition of their service and for U.S. veterans benefits.

“We don’t ask for a million dollars or something like that because we know the government doesn’t have enough money,” said Phouthasack. He said he wants the standard benefits, such as medical care and the option of a military burial.

When the war ended in 1975, most unit members escaped the communist takeover in Laos by fleeing to refugee camps in Thailand before thousands moved to the U.S. Phouthasack served the U.S. military for 20 years in Laos, Vietnam, Cambodia and Thailand before he moved to Connecticut in 1983 with his family and became a U.S. citizen.

Dennis Tarciani, who served in the Marines during the Vietnam War and is a senior adviser at the SGU National Headquarters, said the unit members saved many American lives.

“One pilot was downed 12 times and saved by the SGU each time,” Tarciani said. “The SGU were recruited, trained, paid and led by the U.S. government. They feel that they were part of the American military.”

Gov. Dannel P. Malloy planned to attend the opening ceremony on Saturday, joined by U.S. Reps. John Larson and Joe Courtney, both Democrats, and other U.S. military officials.

March 30, 2013

Vietnam recalled by former soldier

Vietnam recalled by former soldier

Click on the link to get more news and video from original source: http://www.advertiser-tribune.com/page/content.detail/id/553953/Vietnam-recalled-by-former-soldier.html?nav=5005

March 30, 2013

By Erika Platt-Handru – Staff Writer (eplatt@advertiser-tribune.com) , The Advertiser-Tribune

In celebration of Ohio’s first Vietnam Veterans Day today, Tiffin resident and Vietnam veteran Larry Bean recalled his service during the war.

Larry Bean

Bean, 75, served four times during the years 1967-69 and was stationed in the country of Laos. There, he was at Lima Site 85, a top-secret location that housed a radar bombing control system that directed air strikes. Bean was a soldier who controlled the bombs B-52s would drop.

“It was too dangerous and too inaccurate to just drop from 30,000 to 40,000 feet,” he said.

Located on top of a mountain, Bean and his colleagues were sworn to secrecy, he said. They were out of uniform and even gave up their military IDs.

“My grandma didn’t even know if he was alive,” said Jennifer Hickman, Bean’s daughter. “He wasn’t allowed to write until he was given the OK.”

Everything had to be hauled up the mountain by hand, Bean said, all the while watching out for mines that had been planted by previous occupants.

“We carried it by hand through a path that nobody veered off of,” he said.

Bean, who described his experience as an adventure, said many of his fellow soldiers did not return alive from Lima Site 85. In March 1968, the site was overrun by PAVN commandos, or the people’s army of Vietnam, and several soldiers were killed.

“A lot of them are still there. They didn’t make it back,” he said. “A lot of people were unaccounted for.”

Bean said he will have a moment of silence today in remembrance of the fallen soldiers; he also planas to email his living friends to remember the Vietnam War.

“I think they should be remembered,” Bean said. “People put their lives on hold to go fight for their country.”

Hickman said she is glad Vietnam Veterans Day has been initiated and thinks it’s important the veterans get the recognition they deserve.

“I think it’s important. It was such a hard battle for them and a lot of people didn’t support them,” she said.

Hickman said she and her family are proud of Bean, who supports fellow troops 100 percent.

“My sister and I are extremely proud of him,” she said.

March 26, 2013

Kerry demands return of missing Laotian activist

Kerry demands return of missing Laotian activist

Click on the link to get more news and video from original source: http://au.news.yahoo.com/world/a/-/world/16438508/us-wants-immediate-return-of-missing-lao-activist/

AFP Updated March 25, 2013, 4:24 pm

WASHINGTON (AFP) – US Secretary of State John Kerry urged Laotian authorities to step up their investigation “without further delay” into the disappearance of a prominent US-educated Laotian community development worker 100 days ago.

Sombath Somphone, the 62-year-old founder of a non-governmental organization campaigning for sustainable development, disappeared in Vientiane while driving home on December 15.

CCTV images showed him being taken away from a police post by two unidentified individuals.

“The United States shares the international community’s serious concerns about Mr Sombath’s safety and well-being,” Kerry said in a statement.

“We call on the Lao government to do everything in its power to account for his disappearance without further delay.”

The United States has sought more information from Laos on its investigation into Sombath’s disappearance, which has sent jitters through the activist network in the secretive one-party communist state.

Laotian authorities have suggested he might have been abducted over a personal dispute but have denied having any information about his whereabouts.

“We are concerned at the lack of significant information we have received from the Lao government about Mr Sombath’s case, despite our offers to assist with the investigation and numerous expressions of concern about Mr Sombath’s welfare,” said Kerry.

The top US diplomat noted that despite Laos’s growing integration into the community of nations, “Mr Sombath’s disappearance resurrects memories of an earlier era when unexplained disappearances were common.”

“Regrettably, the continuing, unexplained disappearance of Mr Sombath, a widely respected and inspiring Lao citizen who has worked for the greater benefit of all of his countrymen, raises questions about the Lao government’s commitment to the rule of law and to engage responsibly with the world,” he added.

“We join with countless organizations, governments, journalists and concerned citizens around the world in demanding answers to Mr Sombath’s disappearance and urging his immediate return home.”

The campaigner, who had earned degrees in education and agriculture from the University of Hawaii, won the 2005 Ramon Magsaysay Award for Community Leadership for his work in poverty reduction and sustainable development in a country that remains one of Southeast Asia’s poorest nations.

Daniel Baer, deputy assistant secretary for the State Department’s Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, told AFP that Sombath’s disappearance has had “a chilling effect” on his activist network.

“For as long as the case remains unresolved and Sombath doesn’t come home to his wife, the international community as well as many people here who know and love him will continue to ask questions,” Baer noted.

The secretive one-party communist state — which exerts total control over the media and does not tolerate criticism — has in recent years gradually given local civil society groups more room to operate.

Sombath’s disappearance has sparked an international campaign of solidarity with the activist and his family.

The European Union, the office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, members of parliament from Asia and Europe, and numerous international organizations have urged the Laotian government to take all actions necessary to ensure the safe return home of this respected figure.

March 26, 2013

US concern over Laos human rights spurs effort to block Thai return of ethnic Hmong rebel

US concern over Laos human rights spurs effort to block Thai return of ethnic Hmong rebel

Click on the link to get more news and video from original source: http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/asia_pacific/us-concern-over-laos-human-rights-spurs-effort-to-block-thai-return-of-ethnic-hmong-rebel/2013/03/26/9256ebe8-95ff-11e2-8764-d42c128a01ef_story.html

By Associated Press, Updated: Tuesday, March 26, 6:57 AM

BANGKOK — A U.S. admonition to Laos over its shaky human rights record spurred efforts Tuesday to halt the possible deportation from Thailand of a former ethnic leader to the authoritarian Southeast Asian nation.

Rights activists said former ethnic Hmong rebel leader Moua Toua Ter is being held at an immigration detention center in Bangkok, while they and at least one Western embassy made representations on his behalf to the Thai government. They fear he faces severe persecution if returned to his homeland.

Concern over his fate came after the United States took Laos to task for failing to account for the disappearance of a prominent social activist.U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said Laos’ failure to provide significant information about the case of award-winning activist Sombath Somphone is raising questions about the government’s commitment to the rule of law and engaging responsibly with the world — notwithstanding its recent accession to the World Trade Organization.

“Mr. Sombath’s disappearance resurrects memories of an earlier era when unexplained disappearances were common,” Kerry said in a statement timed for the 100-day anniversary of the activist’s disappearance Monday.

Laos has been under a communist government since 1975. It has opened up considerably in the past two decades and been willing to build ties with the U.S., which bombed it heavily during the war in neighboring Vietnam. But it retains a one-party political system and is intolerant of dissent.

Sombath was last seen in closed-circuit video footage when he was stopped at a police checkpoint in the capital Vientiane on Dec. 15, but the Lao government denies knowledge of his fate. His work in social development was not overtly political, although the communist authorities may feel threatened by the nation’s nascent civil society. Dozens of international nongovernment groups, the U.N. human rights office and the European Union have voiced deep concern over the case.

Other disappearances and killings in Laos have gone unsolved. Last week, the State Department said local authorities had obstructed its attempt to probe the disappearances of three Laotian-Americans from Minnesota who went missing in southern Laos in January.

State Department officials say the U.S. is monitoring the case of Moua Toua Ter, who fought with CIA-backed Hmong guerrillas in Laos against communists during the Vietnam War. When the communists took power in 1975, he was a leader in a rag-tag Hmong resistance holed up in remote jungles of northern Laos that was only reached by journalists in 2003 who found a pitiful settlement of starving civilians and ill-equipped fighters.

According to the Fact-Finding Commission, a California-based group that has monitored the plight of displaced Hmong in Laos, in 2005 Moua Toua Ter brokered the surrender of 173 women, children and elderly to the government, and then fled to Thailand. Some of those who surrendered have been resettled around Laos, while others slipped away to Thailand or were eventually resettled in third countries.

Moua Toua Ter went into hiding in northern Thailand, where he was subsequently convicted of manslaughter in the killing of a Lao woman. After serving his sentence, he was taken into Thai immigration custody as an illegal alien.

“The Thai government should recognize that he likely would face persecution if he’s sent back to Laos, and respect his right to request asylum by immediately permitting him access to the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees,” said Phil Robertson, deputy director of the Asia Division at Human Rights Watch.

A spokesman for Thailand’s Foreign Minister was not available to answer calls to his office for comment

Many Hmong fled Laos after the communist takeover. Between the late 1970s and the mid-1990s, an estimated 195,000 refugees were resettled in the United States, primarily in California, Minnesota, North Carolina and Wisconsin.

___

Associated Press writers Matthew Pennington in Washington and Thanyarat Doksone in Bangkok contributed to this report.

Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

 

Activists fear Thai return of Hmong rebel to Laos

Click on the link to get more news and video from original source: http://seattletimes.com/html/nationworld/2020641026_apasthailanduslaos.html

A U.S. admonition to Laos over its shaky human rights record has spurred efforts to halt the possible deportation from Thailand of a former ethnic leader to the authoritarian Southeast Asian nation.

The Associated Press

BANGKOK —

A U.S. admonition to Laos over its shaky human rights record has spurred efforts to halt the possible deportation from Thailand of a former ethnic leader to the authoritarian Southeast Asian nation.

Rights activists said Tuesday that former ethnic Hmong rebel Moua Toua Ter was being held at an immigration detention center in Bangkok, while rights activists made representations on his behalf to the Thai government. They fear he faces persecution if repatriated.

Concern over his fate came after Washington took Laos to task for failing to account for the disappearance of a prominent social activist.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said Laos’ failure to provide significant information about the case of award-winning activist Sombath Somphone raises questions about the government’s commitment to the rule of law.

 

 

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