Tak cops hawk stay in country cards

Tak cops hawk stay in country cards

'Get out of jail' for a fee racket alleged

A soldier guards the Thai border in Mae Sot district in Tak province on Oct 29, 2020. The Moei River forms a borderline between Thailand and Myanmar. (Photo: Nutthawat Wicheanbut)
A soldier guards the Thai border in Mae Sot district in Tak province on Oct 29, 2020. The Moei River forms a borderline between Thailand and Myanmar. (Photo: Nutthawat Wicheanbut)

The Royal Thai Police (RTP) will investigate claims that officers in Tak charged Myanmar refugees 350 baht each for tickets absolving them from the legal threat of deportation.

Any members of the RTP found guilty of such wrongdoing will face criminal charges and be subject to disciplinary punishment, deputy police spokesperson Krisana Pattanacharoen said on Friday.

The alleged bribes were first reported by the Associated Press, alongside claims that Myanmar refugees had to fork out 350 baht for a "police card" in order to avoid being captured and deported.

Similar cards were being sold among refugees who had fled the armed conflict and were subsisting in Tak on the border, the spokesperson added.

Pol Col Krisana said Tak Provincial Police was looking into the case and has demanded the six police stations in border areas report their findings by Monday.

He said any officers involved in the "police card" scheme will be shown no mercy when the law is applied.

Thai authorities have set up three temporary shelters for refugees from Myanmar, all under the responsibility of the Department of Provincial Administration at the Ministry of Interior, Pol Col Krisana said.

Another five safe accommodations have been provided for the refugees to assist them with humanitarian aid and related affairs, under the care of the Thai military and government.

Pol Col Krisana said Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha was concerned about the situation and requested authorities supply aid, security and sanitation to the struggling refugees, according to human rights law.

Meanwhile, national police chief Suwat Jangyodsuk demanded that all divisions under the RTP rush to cooperate with security and public health offices to both prevent illegal immigration and any malfeasance accompanying it.

He called on Thai authorities to assist the refugees and also investigate whether they were forced to pay bribes in exchange for their safety.

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