Thai police allegedly harassing tourists in order to extort bribes
Stopped, searched and harassed by police in a popular tourist district. Ordered to show identification papers. Asked to provide a urine sample.
These are some reports that have emerged over the past few weeks from tourists in Bangkok, Thailand, according to media reports.
This is not a crackdown on crime, but allegedly a prelude to an extortion for a bribe, reported The Sydney Morning Herald.
Letters to Thai newspapers and blogs have been highlighting the sharp increase in reports of harassment, intimidation and extortion in the Sukhumvit area, reported Asian Correspondent.
Tourist Reese Walker wrote in to the Bangkok Post about her holiday nightmare in the country.
On Friday night, our taxi was stopped by police. We were told to exit the car and we were searched. My handbag was checked, while my fiance had to turn out everything in his pockets and undergo a frightening and humiliating search at the side of the road. The police refused to answer questions and were quite rude. After finding nothing we were sent on our way with no apology or explanation.
Were this not distressing enough, on Saturday evening as we walked near Asok junction, the same thing occurred. Stopped, frisked and searched. When we asked what the reason was for the search, the police simply laughed at us.
- Reese Walker
Mr Piyachaya Srihrangpairot from Chiang Mai also wrote in to the newspaper about an incident of police harassment which he had witnessed.
Those four men in uniform were stopping so many foreigners that they caught my full attention.
They were thoroughly searching tourists and their belongings, asking them to produce passports. Many of those unfortunate souls were then detained and I saw them paying money to the officials. They were being fleeced, but I could not see what so many of the tourists had done wrong.
- Piyachaya Srihrangpairot
British Ambassador to Thailand, Mark Kent, tweeted on Thursday that he had brought the issue up with Thailand's tourism minister.
"Minister took note of the reports we cited and promised to follow up. Said there was no campaign," he said in a later Tweet.
Sources: The Sydney Morning Herald, Bangkok Post, Asian Correspondent