Rohingya.293 If countries begin using untested processes due to a lack of their own refugee law, in
a pending crisis, “the strength and integrity of the Refugee Convention regime—based on
concrete state obligations incorporated in the widely-accepted international instruments—are
undermined by an ad hoc system that is not grounded in any international convention.”294
With the UNHCR process, Rohingya would be settled in third countries, which many
Rohingya declared was their initial goal.295 Some worry that the option of third-country
resettlement puts the Rohingya at greater risk of human trafficking in trying to reach these third
countries, essentially enabling smugglers to take advantage of a refugee situation.296 However,
Thai officials like Lieutenant General Paradon Pattanathaboot have been clear that after the six-month detainment that Thailand provided for in early 2014, Thailand cannot offer shelter because
this would require Thailand to “deal with a far greater influx.”297 Lt. Gen. Pattanathaboot
expressed that Thailand expects reciprocity from those countries that urged Thailand to step in.298
Contrarily, an article from the Asia News Network quotes Surapong Kongjanteuk, head of
Thailand’s Lawyer’s Council Human-Rights Subcommittee on the Stateless, Migrant Workers
and Displaced People in Thailand, asserting, “[ i]t would be good for Thailand to allow the
UNHCR to work with the Rohingya people . . . Thailand would no longer have to shoulder [such
a large] burden.”299 Though “Thai authorities have agreed in principle to give [UNHCR] access to
this group,” full access still has not begun. 300
Furthermore, the UNHCR could remedy some of the inefficiency and disorganization
Thailand faces with the Rohingya crisis, as the UNHCR already has a detailed process that could
be immediately implemented, if Thailand allowed.301 In describing the goal of the process in an
article from Thomson Reuters Foundation, UNHCR spokesperson Vivian Tan asserted, “[ i]deally
we’d like to speak to these groups to find out who they are, where they came from, and if they
need international protection.”302 Another reason for UNHCR status determination is that “‘[ i]t is
unclear if the detainees are from [Burma] or Bangladesh . . . or if they are migrant workers or
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293 Akram & Rempel, supra note 275, at 14–15 (“When states substitute a non-formalized temporary protection system for the
Refugee Convention regime, they may fail to grant basic human rights that the Refugee Convention guarantees to refugees. . . .
Because there is no internationally binding standard that guarantees certain human rights for persons granted temporary protection, a
state may deny even basic Refugee Convention rights at its discretion.”).
294 Id. at 13–14.
295 Wassana Nanuam & King-Oua Laohong, NSC Floats Plan of Rohingya Shelters, BANGKOK POST (Jan. 29, 2013),
http://www.bangkokpost.com/news/security/333080/nsc-floats-plan-of-rohingya-shelters (quoting the Thailand National Security
Council chief as saying, “‘[t]he Rohingya do not want to live in Thailand but want to work in a Muslim country. The government will
continue to define them as illegal immigrants’”).
296 AlertNet, UNHCR Seeks Access to Rohingya Detained in Thailand, THOMSON REUTERS FOUND. (Jan. 15, 2013, 10: 53 AM),
http://www.trust.org/alertnet/news/unhcr-seeks-access-to-rohingya-detained-in-thailand [hereinafter UNHCR Seeks Access].
297 Nanuam & Laohong, supra note 295 (“The National Security Council (NSC) Secretary General, Lt Gen Paradon Pattanathaboot,
said that Thailand will not set up permanent refugee camps, though it could still build temporary detention centers. Bangkok promised
to receive Rohingyas for a maximum of six months, but warned that it would deport those who try to escape. More than 1,400
Rohingyas have been rounded up since early January.”); Khalid Iqbal, No Willing Hosts for Rohingyas, NATION (Feb. 4, 2013),
298 Nanuam & Laohong, supra note 295.
299 Nation, Myanmar, Bangladesh Urged to Solve Rohingya Crisis, ASIA NEWS NETWORK (Jan. 24, 2013),
300 Terry Fredrickson, UN Gains Rohingya Access, BANGKOK POST (Jan. 17, 2013, 11:09 AM),
301 Saksith Saiyasombut & Siam Voices, UPDATED: Thailand Moves to Deport 800 Rohingya as Exodus Continues, ASIAN
CORRESPONDENT (Jan. 16, 2013, 10: 15 AM), http://asiancorrespondent.com/95470/thailands-foreign-minister-determined-to-deport-
hundreds-of-rescued-rohingya-refugees/ (explaining that while Thailand has said the UNHCR will have access to the Rohingya to
begin screening, no date has been set to begin the process).