Thirty Chinese Christians who were arrested for overstaying visas will be brought to a Pattaya court on Monday while their refugee status has not been granted.
A source at the Immigration Bureau said on Sunday that police in Bang Lamung district of Chon Buri would bring the Chinese adults to the Pattaya Court, where they would be arraigned for overstaying their visas. The offence carries a daily fine of 500 baht, but is limited to 20,000 baht.
According to the source, the Chinese adults were among the 60 Chinese people who have overstayed their visas since December last year. United Nations staff will seek their temporary release at the Pattaya Court on Monday.
They were staying with 33 Chinese children, including three infants, at Long Lake Hillside Resort in Pattaya when police arrested all of them there on Friday.
The Chinese children were placed under the care of a youth facility of the Ministry of the Social Development and Human Security in Chon Buri.
By law, the immigration police source said, the foreigners who were arrested for overstaying visas would be fined, repatriated and prohibited from revisiting Thailand for a certain period.
However, the Chinese detainees could seek refugee status from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees if they feared for their safety on return to their homeland, the source said.
According to the source, Christians are subject to restrictions in China, and this group of Chinese Christians escaped from the restrictions and moved to South Korea where they stayed for about two years.
In South Korea they tried to seek refugee status so that they could settle in a third-party country. Pending the status, they fled South Korean suppression of people overstaying visas. They arrived in Thailand with tourist visas, which they overstayed in December last year.
Thai police would coordinate the case closely with the United Nations to guarantee safety and justice for the Chinese nationals, the source said.
The Chinese visitors comprise 16 families. They included three young children who were born at Bumrungrad Hospital in Bangkok.