The Royal Thai Police have said they will investigate claims that police officers have been extorting Myanmar refugees for 350 baht each for police cards allegedly absolving them from the legal threat of deportation.
A deputy police spokesperson told a press briefing that any members of the Royal Thai Police found to have committed such crimes would face criminal charges, discipline, and expulsion from the force.
The Associated Press first reported the allegations of bribes, along with claims that Myanmar refugees were required to pay 350 baht for a card so that they could avoid being arrested and deported.
The spokesperson said similar cards were being sold to refugees who had fled the armed conflict in Myanmar. The refugees were staying in Tak along the border.
Authorities in Tak province are now looking into the case and have demanded six police stations in the border area report their findings by Monday.
Those involved in the extortion scheme will face no mercy when the law is applied.
Thailand has set up three temporary shelters for Myanmar refugees, all under the jurisdiction of the Department of Provincial Administration at the Ministry of Interior, he said.
Thailand’s military and government have provided five more safe accommodations for refugees for the provision of humanitarian aid and related services.
According to the spokesman, Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha expressed concern about the situation and asked authorities to provide aid, security, and sanitation to the struggling refugees, in accordance with human rights law.
Meanwhile, Thailand’s top cop, Pol Gen. Suwat Jangyodsuk urged all departments to work together with public health offices to prevent both illegal immigration and any malfeasance associated with it.
It was his request that Thai authorities assist the refugees and investigate whether they were forced to pay bribes in exchange for their safety.