The Department of Provincial Administration has released information to counter part of the United States' 2015 "Trafficking in Persons" (TIP) report relevant to the department's work.
Grisada Boonrach, the department's director-general, explained yesterday that any request for Thai citizenship was made via district chiefs, who are local officials. He thus disputed the TIP report's statement, "Due to proactive efforts by some officials, 900 hilltribe members received citizenship. While national-level officials seemed to have a greater understanding that statelessness may be a risk factor for trafficking, this understanding had not necessarily become a standard at the municipal and regional levels."
Grisada said: "The report must have been based on misunderstanding or inaccurate information."
Compiled by the US Department of State, the 2015 TIP Report came out last week.
Grisada said that from January 2014 through June this year, the Thai government had granted citizenship to 10,551 hilltribe or stateless people.
"Since the current government came to power, it has instructed the Interior Ministry to prioritise efforts to tackle stateless people's problems," he said.
Also, Grisada said the Interior and Labour ministries had improved the registration system for migrant workers in a bid to reduce human-trafficking risks.
"To date, we have registered 1,626,235 migrant workers," he said.
Grisada insisted that the current government had abided by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
In addition, he disclosed that HRH Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn had handed out 500 scholarships to underprivileged children, including those of stateless people, every year since 1987.
"Grantees can receive scholarships until they get a bachelor's degree. If they have a good educational record, they may receive scholarships until they get a doctorate degree. Grantees don't even need to hold Thai citizenship."
Meanwhile, the Department of Employment (DOE) will allow foreign ship workers to apply as technicians, in a move to deal with labour shortages in the fishing industry. Department director-general Sumet Mahosot said the new policy applied to workers from Myanmar, Laos and Cambodia who had obtained work permits.
Employees who have acquired ship-technician certificates issued by the government can apply for the position via the departmnet. The processing fee is Bt1,100 (S$43).
The processing fee is Bt3,100 for foreign workers who have completed their nationality verification or those contracted under a memorandum of understanding.
However, ship workers holding pink one-year work permits are still unable to upgrade their jobs, pending an executive order from the Prime Minister's Office.