desired by any Rohingya, it “will often be unsuccessful when family and collective social
structures of refugees have not been preserved during the period of protection abroad, when
refugees are denied opportunities to develop their skills and personalities in the asylum
state. . . .”272 Regardless of which identification process Thailand employs, Thailand should help
refugees foster their communal traditions to maintain their identity.273 But this cannot be
accomplished by separating families.274
B. Refugee Status Determination and the UNHCR Process
Two possible systems Thailand should consider for processing the Rohingya would require
the aid of the UNHCR: either UNHCR’s established status determination process or a similar
alternative called temporary protection.275 Thailand could also develop its own process, as it
currently does not have a functioning process, but as the Rohingya crisis is ongoing, there may
not be time to do so.276 One necessity for both processes is the immediate provision of
identification documents that Thailand agrees to recognize. This is necessary to ensure the
provision of essential services, as well as providing “an important symbol of security and . . . [an]
important message of recognition and protection.”277 It is feasible for Thailand to issue
identification cards during any process, as well as uphold the documents, not as a grant of
citizenship, but as necessary individual recognition and protection. The following two subsections
discuss the possible processes for registering and identifying the Rohingya.
1. Thailand Should Give the UNHCR Greater Access to the Rohingya to Conduct an Efficient
and Thorough Status Determination Process
Although Thailand will need to address the gaps in its refugee policy, the Rohingya crisis
urgently necessitates at least a standard process to identify the status of each person. Vulnerable
groups, like children, have a variety of needs that cannot be addressed with a blanket solution that
may seem appropriate for adults.278 The need for children to feel secure and safe cannot be met by
placing them in a detention center with unrelated adults, no space to move, and nothing to do.279
Rohingya children are becoming increasingly deconditioned from lack of exercise, decreasing
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272 Id. at 140.
274 Human Rights Watch, Thailand: Minority Rohingya Children Face Critical Trafficking Dangers, WOMEN NEWS NETWORK,
http://womennewsnetwork.net/2014/01/28/minority-rohingya-children/ [hereinafter Children Face Critical Trafficking Dangers]
(“The 2,055 Rohingya migrants Thailand permitted to enter the country in 2013 were treated as “illegal migrants” and did not receive
protection as refugees under international law. The government separated families, holding adult men and some male children,
including unaccompanied boys, in immigration detention centers, and detaining others, primarily women and younger children, in
closed shelters run by the Ministry of Social Development and Human Security.”).
275 GAPS IN REFUGEE PROTECTION, supra note 82, at 11 (providing that the Status Determination Process requires a UNHCR
representative to interview and screen refugees based on the criteria from the UNHCR Mandate as to whether or not a person meets
the definition of a refugee; temporary protection is a similar mechanism to Status Determination, employed often in countries like
Thailand that have not signed the 1951 Refugee Convention. These refugees are also interviewed, but must be recommended to the
Thai Provincial Admissions Board in order to have a final determination of whether the person qualifies for protection); Susan M.
Akram & Terry Rempel, Temporary Protection as an Instrument for Implementing the Right of Return for Palestinian Refugees, 22
B.U. INT’L L.J. 1, 11–12 (2004).
276 Frelick & Saltsman, supra note 78, at 4–5.
277 Id. at 161–63.
278 Rohingya in Thailand-Safe For Now, INTEGRATED REG’L INFO. NETWORKS (Jan. 29, 2013),
http://www.irinnews.org/report/97365/rohingya-in-thailand-safe-for-now (quoting UNHCR spokeswoman Vivian Tan as explaining,
“[t]here are likely to be different profiles within these groups, including people who may need international protection, vulnerable
individuals like unaccompanied children, and possibly people seeking economic opportunities elsewhere. Different groups will need
279 Children Face Critical Trafficking Dangers, supra note 274 (“The lack of access to education violates Thai and international law.
Under the Convention on the Rights of the Child, to which Thailand is party, all children are entitled to education regardless of
migration status. The Thai government has said that migrant children with or without legal status in the country are entitled to enroll in
schools, yet these Rohingya children have been prevented from doing so by virtue of their detention.”).