On 26 December 2020, Mrs. Prakairatana Thontiravong, Acting NHRCT Chairperson, said that the National Human Rights Commission of Thailand (NHRCT) has concerns over the new wave of COVID-19 pandemic situations which may cause human rights impacts on affected people, especially those who live in the severe epidemic of Samut Sakhon Province. Both Thais and Myanmar workers have been suffered from health crisis, economic downturn, unemployment, discrimination or social stigma.
Mrs. Thontiravong also said that the NHRCT appreciated measures undertaken by the government to tighten disease controls rapidly in response to the new outbreaks such as population-wide screening for infection detection and field hospitals to be set up to separate and treat people with COVID-19. In addition, illegal migrant workers have been temporaily exempted from the arrest and allowed for entry registration, receiving medical examination and treatment and thus preventing them from movement.
However, the NHRCT remains concerned over the possibility for both Thais and migrants to get access and truly benefit from public health preventive measures in the highly controlled area. Since there will be the prohibition of migrant workers to travel in and out of the area, they may be locked down in congested living buildings which are non-separable between infected and non-infected people. Therefore, such risk should be mitigated. The government should publicize knowledge through various communication channels how migrant workers can protect themselves from the disease and also the measures which are undertaken by the government in an understandable format. The government should also provide sustenance for all people in the highly controlled area without distinction.
“It is indispensable that the government must ensure the right to health and the right to an adequate standard of living to all people at the time of crisis. It means that every one can enjoy his or her own rights in terms of availability, accessibility, adaptability and acceptability. For example, the public health care services and medical treatment should be appropriate and in line with his/her culture or ways of living. In addition, the NHRCT also calls on people in society for their understanding and mutual assistance. People who have been affected by the pandemic no matter who they are: Thais; migrant workers; or medical personnel working in the area, must not be subject to any act or verbal use of stigmatization and discrimination. Finally, the NHRCT would like to encourage all of us to offer our moral support to officials, health workers, people with COVID-19. We will overcome the crisis together with respect for human dignity and human rights of all people.”, the Acting NHRCT Chairperson said.