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Special ‘Tourist Courts’ to Fast-Track Crimes a Top Priority



The first proposed court would be set up in the country’s capital Bangkok photo

BANGKOK – Authorities in Thailand are considering setting up special fast-track ‘tourist courts’ in an attempt to boost confidence in the country.

New Minister of Tourism and Sports, Somsak Pureesrisak

The proposal follows a rise in crimes against holidaymakers in the country’s popular tourist resorts such as Phuket and Pattaya.

Thailand’s new Minister of Tourism, Somsak Pureesrisak, wants the courts to prioritize crimes against tourists such as attacks, thefts or scams and said he would make travelers’ safety a top priority.

“The state should increase punishment against those who commit crimes like robbery and assault on tourists”, he said.

“Tourists who are the victims of thefts and robberies may have to face a lengthy trial and experience inconvenience because they only intended to stay in the country for a short time.”

The first proposed court would be set up in the country’s capital Bangkok and courts would then be established in popular tourist destinations such as Phuket, Koh Samui, Pattaya and Chiang Mai.
They would be held at existing district courts, and will be open for service late into the evening.The secretary general of the Office of the Judiciary to Thailand said: “We are opening the court to protect the rights of tourists and provide a fairness to those who may receive unfair treatment from tour agencies.”

Chanchai Duangjit, director of the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) Phuket office, said the proposal was a “very good thing for tourists” as they do not have time to deal with a court trial on holidays.

But Phuket Provincial Police Commander Choti Chavalviwat said that, although the courts would make it easier and quicker to process cases, it would be better to focus on preventing crime.

He told the The Phuket News: “I would prefer more effort be put into preventing crime, such as by installing more CCTV cameras across Phuket, which would help police to catch bad men faster and would help reduce the already heavy workload on judges at the court.”

Earlier this year Chavalviwat called for 5,000 more police officers to help protect tourists from crimes in Phuket as new crime figures for the island were released.

It was revealed that seven expats have been murdered in the Phuket since 2010 and that last year, foreigners were the victims of two rapes, 13 violent crimes, 13 attempted robberies and 46 cases of fraud. However, the biggest cause of death to foreigners in the resort was drowning with eight deaths in 2012.

In January, a British man was shot during a beach party in Haad Rin in Koh Phangan. Stephen Ashton was killed during a New Year’s Eve party by 26-year-old Ekkapan Kaewkla.

In February, a British student was gang raped by four Thai men as she left a late-night restaurant in Nakhon Sri Thammarat.

The Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO) currently warns tourists about attacks by gangs in areas such as Koh Phangan, Koh Samui, Chiang Mai and Krabi and advises visitors to be on their guard against pickpockets and bag snatchers and to take extra care at night.


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