Don’t Detain Immigrant Children


Target: Thai Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha

Goal: Stop the detention of child immigrants and their families

A recently released Human Rights Watch report details the conditions in immigrant detention centers in Thailand, where thousands of families are held each year awaiting relocation, deportation, and asylum. Families are sometimes held for years in cramped cells with up to 100 detainees without proper nutrition, hygiene, education, or exercise space. The report, entitled “Two Years with No Moon,” outlines the violation of human rights inherent in detaining children in such conditions for extended periods.

Including refugees, asylum seekers, and children of migrant workers, there are roughly 375,000 migrant children in Thailand. While the migrants of neighboring countries such as Burma, Laos, and Cambodia are typically held for no more than a few weeks before being deported, migrant families from countries like Sri Lanka, Pakistan, and Syria must either fund the return to their home country or indefinitely await the possibility of being taken in by a new one.

Human Rights Watch reports that inadequate nutrition in the detention centers forces many parents to pay exorbitantly to have food smuggled into the centers to supplement necessary nutrients for their children. Many detainees must sleep on bare floors and suffer skin conditions as a result. As well as the physical traumas of captive living, children face emotional and mental conditions that inhibit healthy development.

The Thai government responded to Human Rights Watch’s allegations of mistreatment by saying that migrants are welcome to apply to be released on bail and that detainees can choose to keep their children in detention in order to stay with a family member who cannot be released.

There are alternatives to the detention centers that would remove children from these harsh conditions without separating them from their families. Open reception centers or conditional release would allow families to stay together while awaiting a decision without threatening the health and rights of children.

Urge the Thai government to keep migrant children with their families and out of detention while awaiting a safe and permanent home.


Dear Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha,

Thousands of migrant children and their families pass through Thai detention centers every year, often indefinitely awaiting a new home. The conditions for both adults and children are inadequate in terms of nutrition, space, and hygiene. Appeal for release is an arduous and unreliable process for the detainees, regularly leaving them in arbitrary detention, a violation of their international human rights. The option to apply for release on bail is impossible for some families and leaves many separated indefinitely.

There are, however, alternatives to the detention centers. Open reception centers and conditional release programs allow families appropriate living conditions and do not force separation of family members while their cases are processed.

I urge you to take action to protect children and families seeking refuge, asylum and a chance at a better life by giving migrant families options other than current detention centers.


[Your Name Here]

Photo credit: Steve Evans via Wikimedia Commons

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