Thailand

Defending the Most Vulnerable

Imagine what life would be like if no country claimed you. Half of the members of northern Thailand’s hill tribes lack documentation of the Thai citizenship that is their legal right, due to a complex, unresponsive and prejudiced justice system. Without this documentation, they cannot work or attend school, cannot travel freely and are often denied access to medical care. Because no justice system defends them, hill tribe women and girls without citizenship documentation are particularly vulnerable to sex trafficking and other forms of violence.

With or without citizenship, hill tribe children – along with ethnic Thai children – also face a high risk of sexual violence. Children from impoverished families who cannot afford lawyers may find it impossible to get justice and protection if they are victimized by sexual assault.

We are standing with these vulnerable people.

What We Do

  1. We travel throughout Thailand’s remote northern hill tribe region to identify people who are legally entitled to Thai citizenship but do not have it – and, as a result, are left vulnerable to abuse and exploitation.
  2. IJM attorneys help these stateless hill tribe people officially file for citizenship, a complex bureaucratic process that can take many months.
  3. We relentlessly advocate on their behalf to move their cases through overburdened government offices that oversee the citizenship application process.

RESCUE VICTIMS

We receive case referrals from partner organizations, churches and families, and work with local law enforcement to ensure that children who remain vulnerable to abuse are brought to safety.

BRING CRIMINALS TO JUSTICE

We investigate cases, help the Royal Thai Police to arrest criminals and support prosecution of rapists and other child abusers.

RESTORE SURVIVORS

We provide trauma therapy and support families so children can heal in a safe and stable environment, as well as help survivors prepare to share the truth in court.

STRENGTHEN JUSTICE SYSTEMS

We provide training and hands-on mentoring to law enforcement, judges and other professionals. We advocate for reforms to the court process to protect children.

“Some people think citizenship is just a plastic card – but in reality, those without that card don’t have a life.”

– Khem Saksakunmongkhon, IJM Thailand Field Office Director

Our Progress

  • Since 2000, IJM Thailand has assisted more than 13,000 hill tribe members to receive documentation of their citizenship rights or elevated legal status.

  • IJM’s Thailand team is led by Khem Saksakunmongkhon – a hill tribe member who was the first person from his village to graduate high school and the second person ever in his tribe to become a lawyer.

Our Team in Thailand

CHIANG MAI, THAILAND

ESTABLISHED 2000

Focus

CITIZENSHIP RIGHTS, SEXUAL VIOLENCE

Field office director

Khem Saksakunmongkhon

Factsheet

IJM Thailand

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