The Central Court of Appeal has ruled to overturn a decision made by the Ministry of Justice's Committee to Determine Compensation to Aggrieved Parties in Criminal Cases, after the Committee ruled not to pay compensation for a sexual assault victim on the ground that she was “an illegal migrant worker.” The Court says that her immigration status is not the cause of the assault and orders the Committee to pay her compensation.
Following the female migrant worker being raped and her reporting the case to the inquiry officer, she has applied to the Ministry of Justice for compensation to aggrieved parties in criminal cases since she was a victim of sexual offence pursuant to the Act for the Granting of Compensation to Aggrieved Parties and the Accused in Criminal Cases B.E. 2544. The MoJ’s Subcommittee has, however, dismissed her application and refused to compensate her as an injured party citing that she was “an illegal migrant worker” and was therefore not entitled to receiving such money. The injured party has thus appealed with the Committee to Determine Compensation and Expenses to Aggrieved Parties in Criminal Cases, but again the Committee upheld the initial decision of the Subcommittee, pursuant to the decision no. 213/2564 on 13 September 2021.
The female migrant worker has thus sought help from the Human Rights and Development Foundation (HRDF). In collaboration with the Network for the Promotion of Access and Protection of Female Migrant Workers (Services & Access), sponsored by the Safe and Fair Program under the collaboration between UN Women and ILO, we have appealed with the Central Court of Appeal to quash the decision of the Committee. The Central Court of Appeal has just decided to quash the decision of the Committee on 28 April 2022. citing that the Act for the Granting of Compensation to Aggrieved Parties and the Accused in Criminal Cases B.E. 2544’s Section 3 prescribes the definition of an injured person as a person whom his or her life, body or mind has been injured by the criminal offense committed by other persons whereby such person is not involved in committing such offense. Her illegal entry into the country was not the cause for her being raped, as a result of which she could have been implicated in the commission of the offence. The court, therefore, disagrees with the decision of the Committee and orders that the Committee award the compensation to the injured party.
Pasuta Chuenkhachorn,, Coordinator of the Human Rights and Development Foundation (HRDF)’s Chiang Mai Office, said that until now, migrant worker have often been subject to discrimination by the Thai authorities. There have been cases of such workers who have fallen victims to criminal offence and been denied the compensation for injured persons by the Ministry of Justice which cites that they were illegal migrants even though their immigration status has nothing to do with the commission of the offence against them. Therefore, the verdict of the Court of Appeal reiterates that the state is obliged to protect all individuals living in this land from any crime. It does not matter if they are illegal migrant workers, but if they have become a victim of a grave crime, the state is obliged to compensate them, at least through the program to offer compensation to the injured parties. This serves as initial help to the persons. This verdict sets out precedent that reinforces the spirit of the Act for the Granting of Compensation to Aggrieved Parties and the Accused in Criminal Cases B.E. 2544 based on the principle of “non-discrimination” pursuant to Section 4 of the Constitution of the Kingdom of Thailand BE 2560 and Article 2 of the International Covenant of Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) to which Thailand is a state party and based on human rights.
We therefore call for the Ministry of Justice to stop citing illegal immigration status as a reason to segregate and discriminate against migrant workers who have become victims of a crime in this country and to stop preventing them access to state compensation. An effort should be made to reiterate the state’s policy while Thailand is preparing to host the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation meetings (APEC 2022) since one of the underpinning concepts of the meetings is the promotion of Business and Human Rights. Such concept supports the compensation of victims affected by human rights violations including migrant workers who have moved here to help drive the economic growth and stability of Thailand and the region.