Thailand, Myanmar sign agreement on extradition of criminal suspects

Myanmar did not request the return of draft-dodgers, said Thai police.
By RFA Staff
2024.07.02
Bangkok, Thailand
Thailand, Myanmar sign agreement on extradition of criminal suspects A group of Myanmar refugees crossing the Moei river from Myanmar to Thailand after a battle erupted between Myanmar's soldiers and rebels, on Nov. 8, 2010.
Reuters

Thai and Myanmar police have agreed to the extradition of suspected criminals from each other’s countries, but the deal will not apply to Myanmar citizens who have fled to Thailand to avoid conscription or have committed minor crimes, said a senior Thai officer.

A memorandum of understanding was signed at Thai police headquarters in Bangkok during a visit last week by Myanmar’s interior minister and police chief, Lt. Gen. Ni Lin Aung, said assistant to the Thai police chief Pol. Lt. Gen. Itthipol Achariyapradit.

“We’ve struck an agreement on extradition,” Itthipol told Radio Free Asia.

“If a Myanmar person commits a crime in our country and flees across the border or vice versa, we will cooperate to bring them to justice,” he said, adding that the cooperation was aimed at major crimes such as murder, drug or human trafficking.

Asked whether Ni Lin Aung had requested that Thai police send back to Myanmar its citizens fleeing to avoid conscription, Itthipol said: “They didn’t raise the issue.”

In February, Myanmar’s junta enacted a People’s Military Service Law after its forces suffered battlefield defeats to rebel factions, making men between the ages of 18 and 35 and women between 18 and 27 liable for conscription into the armed forces. Married women and women with children are exempt from service.

The announcement triggered a wave of assassinations of administrators enforcing the law and drove thousands of draft-dodgers into rebel-controlled territory and abroad, in particular to Thailand.


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For decades Thailand has been host to thousands of refugees from Myanmar fleeing fighting between ethnic minority insurgents and the military. 

Thailand has also been an unofficial refuge for dissidents, and other opponents of Myanmar’s military rulers, who slip across the long, porous border. Thai authorities often turn a blind eye to their presence while promoting cordial relations with Myanmar authorities.

Fast-growing Thailand has for years also been a major destination for workers from Myanmar, on both an official and unofficial basis, seeking employment in fishing, agriculture, factories and the service sector.

Ittipol said there had long been cooperation between the neighbors, noting that Thailand had sent back to Myanmar its nationals suspected of crimes in their homeland and Myanmar helped to repatriate Thai and other Southeast Asian citizens caught in human-trafficking operations and online scam centers in Myanmar, such as in Laukkaing township in Shan state.

Ni Lin Aung is a former military commander who was sanctioned by the European Union in 2022 for suspected human rights abuses, including the massacre of nearly 50 civilians in Kayah state the previous year.

Edited by Taejun Kang. 

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