Thailand has convicted five immigration police officers to 15 years in prison for extorting US$278,000.00 (10 million baht) in cryptocurrency from a Chinese businessman found in unauthorised possession of a Thai ID card in March of last year.
The Central Criminal Court for Corruption and Misconduct Cases issued the sentence after a Thai man led five immigration officers to arrest a Chinese businessman who was illegally holding a Thai ID card.
The five Immigration Division 1 officials are Pol Maj Sorawit Inlab, Pol Lt Suriya Rukkhachart, Pol Snr Sgt Maj Peerasak Yimpaiboon, Pol Lt Prawitpol Jangreed, and Pol Maj Jirapat Boonnam.
Surachai Pattanachaicharoen, a 58-year-old Thai man, was sentenced to ten years in prison for bringing immigration officers to the Chinese guy.
On March 10, last year, five police officers seized Xi, a Chinese national, and his Thai woman interpreter, Namee Sae Lee, 38, from a residence on Pracha Songkroh 2 Road in Din Daeng district.
Instead of bringing the Chinese guy to the Immigration Bureau, they took him to various sites and requested that he pay 10 million baht in bitcoin in exchange for his freedom.
On March 20, 2023, the interpreter, Ms Namee, filed a complaint with the Din Daeng Police Station.
Police Corruption in Thailand
The Royal Thai Police Force has long been afflicted by a dark shadow of corruption, with claims of wrongdoing and unethical behaviour pervading all levels of the organisation.
Despite efforts to address this systemic issue, incompetence and abuse of power continue to erode Thailand’s law enforcement integrity.
Corruption in Thailand’s police force has deep roots, typically linked to political pressures and societal systems.
The sophisticated web of power dynamics has fostered a culture of impunity, in which officials use their positions for personal benefit without fear of repercussions.
This widespread corruption has eroded public trust while also jeopardising the country’s foundation of justice and security.
Several high-profile corruption trials have shown the level of wrongdoing within Thailand’s police force. From engagement in illegal operations to abuse of authority, these episodes have exposed the system’s flaws and the critical need for reform.
Despite sporadic crackdowns and promises to eradicate corruption, the problem persists, casting a shadow over Thailand’s law enforcement reputation.
The Thai government has acknowledged the long-standing issue of police corruption and pledged to take action against those responsible.
However, the efficacy of such interventions remains debatable, as the underlying nature of corruption necessitates more than just surface-level changes. Addressing the underlying causes and adopting strong oversight measures are critical steps in combating this widespread issue.
To effectively combat police corruption in Thailand, a multifaceted approach is required. This includes increasing openness, accountability, and ethical training in the police force.
Furthermore, cultivating a culture of honesty and professionalism is critical for instilling values that prioritise public service over personal gain. Collaboration among government agencies, civil society, and international partners can also play a critical role in achieving significant change.