back to the Immigration Detention Monitor

09 August 2021 – Thailand

Overcrowded Cell in Bangkok Immigration Detention Centre in January 2020, (J. Lovelock,
Overcrowded Cell in Bangkok Immigration Detention Centre in January 2020, (J. Lovelock, "Pandemic Spreads in Thailand's Immigration Detention Centres," UCANews, 24 March 2021,

In March 2021, a number of immigrants became infected while detained by Thailand’s Immigration Bureau, including 77 migrant workers held at detention centres in Bangkok’s Bang Khen and Lak Si districts. Most of the detainees were Burmese, Laotian and Cambodian nationals. The Bangkok Post reported that based on data from the Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration (CCSA) “almost 300 foreign immigrants at the Immigration Bureau’s detention centres in Suan Phlu and Bang Khen have contracted COVID-19.” A CCSA spokesperson said that “98 out of 1,888 foreign immigrants at the immigration detention centres tested positive from March 11 to Saturday (March 20).” As a result, “The detention centres had stopped accepting new detainees,” and, according to the Commissioner-General of the Royal Thai Police, “the infected detainees would be transferred to the field hospital for treatment by physicians and nurses from the Police General Hospital.”

According to UCANews, the main reason why the number of migrant workers infected with COVID-19 increased dramatically in March was due to immigration detention centres’ poor conditions and overcrowdedness. There was inadequate sanitation and hygiene at the facilities, which enabled the virus to spread quickly. UCANews also reported that “many rights advocates have been calling on the Thai immigration authorities to improve conditions at immigration detention centers.” These groups pressured the government to release some detainees to reduce virus exposure. In response, the Thai authorities have promised to improve the conditions of immigration detention centers. One observer, however, suggested that “Once the public outrage [of the infection in the detention centres] in the wake of such publicity dies down … things return to business as usual.”