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06BANGKOK1286 RTG ADVANCES ON HILL TRIBES CITIZENSHIP

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“54937”,”3/2/2006 7:32″,”06BANGKOK1286″,

“Embassy Bangkok”,

“UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY”,””,

“This record is a partial extract of the original cable.

The full text of the original cable is not available.

 

020732Z Mar 06

“,”UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 BANGKOK 001286

 

SIPDIS

 

SENSITIVE

SIPDIS

 

E.O. 12958: N/A

TAGS: PHUM, PGOV, TH, Hill Tribes

SUBJECT: RTG ADVANCES ON HILL TRIBES CITIZENSHIP

 

1. (SBU) SUMMARY. On January 2, 2006, the RTG granted Thai

citizenship or permanent residency to nearly 14,000

individuals. Members of hill tribes accounted for 6,678 of

this number. This action is part of the MOI,s effort to

clear the backlog of thousands of applications, and

accelerate the application process. While this is a positive

development, the RTG still has a ways to go toward ensuring

that those who are entitled to Thai nationality are able to

fully exercise their rights as citizens. Advocacy groups

agree that the MOI is making a concerted effort, but note

that implementation at the district and local level continues

to be problematic. Post,s DRL-funded grant to the Hill

Tribe Citizenship Project continues to play a significant

role in increasing public awareness and assisting hill tribes

and RTG officials to remedy this long-standing problem. END

SUMMARY.

 

THE NUMBERS

 

2. (U) On 02 January 2006, the MOI approved the citizenship

applications of 13,827 persons. According to the MOI, this

is the largest number of approvals ever granted at one time.

The majority of approved applicants were from hill tribes.

The MOI broke down the approvals as follows: Highlanders )

6,363; Burmese ) 3,175; Vietnamese ) 2,279; Chinese

(ex-Nationalists and Haw) ) 978; Nepalese ) 704; Tribal

People ) 287; Tai Lue ) 28; and Malaysian (ex-Communists)

) 13. (NOTE: MOI confirms that the categories Highlander,

Tribal People, and Tai Lue all represent hill tribe peoples.

End Note.)

 

3. (U) Not all of these applicants received automatic

citizenship. The 4,272 primary applicants who have spent

most of their lives in Thailand received permanent resident

status as they are considered migrants. They will be able to

apply for naturalization after a five-year residency period.

The Thai-born children and grandchildren of these primary

applicants (9,555 in total) were granted citizenship

immediately.

 

MOI PICKING UP THE PACE

 

4. (SBU) MOI,s Minority Affairs Section informed Post that

the large number of approvals was a result of MOI\’s effort to

clear the backlog of pending citizenship applications. MOI

officials and advocacy groups believe the number of pending

applications to be approximately 100,000. While there is

general agreement that the central government is making an

honest effort to speed up the process, implementation at the

provincial and local levels remains inconsistent and

corruption remains a significant roadblock in certain

districts. The complicated process involves moving an

application back and forth through multiple layers of

government and police bureaucracy. The applicant is often

required to pay bribes to officials at each step in the

process in order to move their petition forward.

Nevertheless, thanks to the extra push from government

authorities the accelerated pace of approvals is expected to

continue.

 

5. (U) Post,s DRL-funded Hill Tribe Citizenship Project is

playing an important role in the process. The project

develops educational materials for hill tribe villagers

informing them of their legal rights and works directly with

villagers and local officials to simplify the process, track

specific cases, and empower villagers to take full advantage

of their rights. Project organizers have created a database

of villagers and their biographic information to help move

cases through the system more quickly. While much work

remains to be done, the education campaign and continued

vigilance of the project organizers has led to decreased

corruption in some localities.

 

6. (SBU) COMMENT: Though the backlog of applications is

still large, there is an attempt by the RTG to speed the

process and find a solution to this lingering problem.

Unfortunately, this does not appear to be a true effort at

streamlining the often corrupt process of moving applications

forward. Instead, it is simply a top-down campaign from the

MOI to make the system work faster. Nevertheless, though the

informal costs to applicants may remain high, they (and the

advocacy groups that support them) are beginning to see signs

for hope. At the same time, those awaiting adjudication of

their applications, remain in a type of stateless limbo.

They are denied the right to vote, buy land, obtain legal

employment, or travel freely and, as such; they are

vulnerable to human traffickers with unscrupulous offers of

employment.

 

7. (SBU) Just as we begin to see progress, the highly

successful DRL-funded grant to the Hill Tribe Citizenship

Project is running out of funds. The program is viewed

favorably not only by hill tribe communities and advocacy

groups, but also by local officials who have benefited from

the program\’s educational activities/materials. The Hill

Tribe Citizenship Program is currently seeking additional

funds to continue its activities and expand its capacity to

monitor applications as they move through the system. END

COMMENT

BOYCE

 

Written by thaicables

July 10, 2011 at 4:20 am

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