Saturday, 6 April 2013

Passports, brokers and extortion

Trustlaw has an excellent article on the problems with Thailand's current passport and work permit registration process:
...a broker who offered to get her Burmese passport and Thai work permit for a 12,000 baht ($409) fee - more than a month’s wage and three times the cost if she were to do it herself. “I asked why it was so expensive, and the broker said, ‘There are lots of others involved. I only get a share’, ... In an effort to legalise its migrant labourers, Thailand in 2009 set up a National Verification (NV) registration process, but over the years, the convoluted paperwork required spawned an exploitative industry of middlemen who cut through the red tape - at an exorbitant cost... “There’s corruption from brokers and government officials… And there’s no transparency to the process.” ... workers like Aye are being squeezed for the little money they earn by brokers who collude with government officials and employers... The current registration process was established after a previous one ended in December. It was supposed to be more transparent following activists’ complaints of corruption and overcharging during the earlier process... Yet things remained the same. It is almost impossible for a migrant worker to get the paperwork without brokers, who push up the prices. “Every time the government announces a deadline and say (the workers) will be deported if they don’t register by then, it’s an opportunity for brokers to exploit the workers.

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