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THE NATION: Thailand not ready t


      Thailand not ready to
      sign UN convention

      THE Foreign Ministry reiterated Monday
      that Thailand was not ready to sign the
      1951 UN Convention on Refugees because
      it did not agree with some of the provisions,
      a senior ministry official said. 

      Even though Thailand has not yet signed
      the convention it has tried its best to
      accommodate and look after displaced
      persons on Thai soil for years, Norachit
      Sinhaseni, director general of the
      international organisation department said. 

      ''We accept the principles of the 1951 UN
      Convention but we think some of the
      provisions are not appropriate for Thailand.
      Anyway concerning the issue of refugees, it
      does not matter whether we sign the
      convention or not, we have sheltered them
      for years on a humanitarian basis,''
      Norachit said. 

      He was speaking at a seminar, entitled
      ''How Universal is Our Response to the
      Refugee Challenge'', held to commemorate
      the 50th anniversary of the universal
      declaration of human rights. 

      The provision that Bangkok would face
      major difficulties with include the one that
      allows refugees to legally work in the
      country giving them asylum, Norachit said. 

      At present, Thailand is sheltering about
      84,000 displaced Cambodians living along
      the western border provinces. 

      Meanwhile, another source said that
      another reason why Thailand was not willing
      to sign the convention was because those
      who are granted the status of a refugees
      are given three options to choose from;
      returning to their homeland, settling in the
      first country that gives them asylum or going
      to a third country. 

      ''Bangkok wants to see the refugees return
      to their homeland as soon as possible. So
      providing the refugees with these options
      can prolong their presence in the country,''
      the source said. 

      Although, he added that a workable and
      durable solution could be worked out. 

      Meanwhile, director of UNHCR's Division of
      International Protection Dennis McNamara
      said, at his opening remarks at the
      seminar, that as a group refugees were
      perhaps the most vulnerable to human
      rights abuses. 

      ''Most refugees suffer rights violations at
      some point; at the time they uprooted,
      during refuge, or sometimes, even after
      they return home. The very existence of the
      50 million or so refugees and internally
      displaced people around the globe today is
      a barometer of the global lack of respect for
      human rights in the world,'' he said. 


      The Nation