Organization of African Unity Convention362 includes a grant of temporary protection: “Where a
refugee has not received the right to reside in any country of asylum, he may be granted
temporary residence in any country of asylum in which he first presented himself as a refugee
pending arrangement for his re-settlement . . . .”363 With this addition, the Convention expanded
the definition of refugee as follows:
The term ‘refugee’ shall also apply to every person who, owing to external
aggression, occupation, foreign domination or events seriously disturbing public
order in either part or the whole of his country of origin or nationality, is
compelled to leave his place of habitual residence in order to seek refuge in
another place outside his country of origin or nationality . . . .364
In creating such a definition, Thailand should explicitly include the international
definition of the rights of stateless populations of refugees, as this seems to be a pertinent
problem in the region. By applying the framework of the 1951 Refugee Convention and molding
the understanding of refugee to suit its needs, Thailand will not face the same confusion in the
future in determining status of stateless people like the Rohingya.
Thailand can address stateless people by implementing laws that allow stateless people to
immigrate legally to Thailand without granting permanent status, but rather protection, i.e., not
require a nationality verification from their country of origin, as explained in Part IV of this
Article.365 Thailand must ensure that stateless people are not discriminated against, or have extra
obstacles in seeking asylum because of their statelessness, by clarifying the current Thai law and
adding stateless people as a defined group.366 Moreover, the lack of clearly-defined laws allow for
abuse by government officials—as we have seen from reports of the “help on” policies and the
sale of Rohingya to human traffickers.367
If Thailand is resistant to change its laws and adding a process for refugee determinations,
it should consider codifying a standing agreement with the UNHCR to give immediate access to
refugee groups during times like this. Perhaps Thailand can learn from its neighbors: in Malaysia,
“the authorities have routinely allowed the [U.N.] refugee agency access to arriving Rohingya.
Those recognized by the agency as refugees are released from immigration detention.”368 As the
current detention and family separation of the Rohingya is central to human rights violations, an
;; ;; ;; ;; ;; ;; ;; ;; ;; ;; ;; ;; ;; ;; ;; ;; ;; ;; ;; ;; ;; ;; ;; ;; ;; ;; ;; ;; ;; ;; ;; ;; ;; ;; ;; ;; ;; ;; ;; ;; ;; ;; ;; ;; ;; ;; ;; ;; ;; ;; ;; ;; ;; ;;
362 Organization of African Unity, Convention Governing the Specific Aspects of Refugee Problems in Africa, Sept. 10, 1969, 1001
U.N.T.S. 45 [hereinafter OAU Convention], available at
363 Id. at art. II( 5); Akram & Rempel, supra note 275, at 88 (explaining that Article I of the Organization of African Unity Convention
defines the term “refugee” in the section on the Refugee Convention Article 1A( 2), and the Convention’s further explanation of this
term in Article I( 2), as expanded upon in the text of this Article).
364 Akram & Rempel, supra note 275, at 88.
365 Park et al., supra note 360, at 509–12 (“Within this framework of eligibility for Thai citizenship, the Minister of the Interior has
considerable discretion to grant or deny citizenship. Specifically, the Minister has power to ‘consider and give an order for each
particular case granting Thai nationality to any person under [section 7] paragraph one, in conformity with the rules prescribed by the
Cabinet.’ . . . Temporary residence status applies to non-Thai persons granted the right to remain in Thailand for a certain period of
time. District officials can grant temporary residency for a specific time period or can actually grant a semi-permanent residency
status, which allows residency in Thailand for an indefinite period of time. Illegal immigrants, such as recent Burmese migrants, can
be granted this type of semi-permanent residency. A person may also be granted temporary resident status when it cannot be
ascertained how long the person has been in Thailand.”); Akram & Rempel, supra note 275, at 6; see supra p. 28 and notes 188–89.
366 LAWYER’S COUNCIL, supra note 338, at 5–6, 10, 32.
367 Fisher, supra note 345; Saiyasombut, supra note 301.