Human Rights Watch released a report Monday urging the Thai government to investigate killings, extortion and labor rights abuses.
A February deadline for millions of migrant workers to enter a "national verification" process or risk immediate deportation would lead to further abuses and should be delayed, the report concluded.
"Migrant workers make huge contributions to Thailand's economy, but receive little protection from abuse and exploitation," Brad Adams, Asia director at Human Rights Watch, said. "Those from (Myanmar), Cambodia and Laos suffer horribly at the hands of corrupt civil servants and police, unscrupulous employers, and violent thugs, who all realize they can abuse migrants with little fear of consequences."
Eighty percent of migrant workers in Thailand are from Myanmar, formerly known as Burma. Facing ethnic and political conflict in their home country, the complicated and unregulated nationality verification process could lead to mass deportations and expose them to risk, HRW said.
The costs of the verification process, which can equate to two or three months' salary, are unacceptably high for migrant communities, the group charges.