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Serious overcrowding at detention c
October 16, 1997
Serious overcrowding at detention centre
Police ponder how to handle illegal aliens
The Immigration Bureau's detention centre at Soi Suan Plu, where illegal
aliens are detained, has a serious overcrowding problem.
Designed for a maximum of 1,200 people, it now houses 1,758, according to
deputy commissioner Pol Maj-Gen Chalermdej Jombunud.
The detainees - Burmese, Khmers and 58 other nationalities - scarcely have
enough room to sleep or even sit, he said.
The bureau must provide food to the value of 30 baht per head per day, a total
of 50,000 baht a day, and this is a big problem, said Pol Maj-Gen Chalermdej.
To tackle the overcrowding, the bureau aims to discharge aliens as soon as
investigative and legal procedures are completed.
A batch of Khmers detained here will soon be bussed to the border where they
will be repatriated. But a new batch takes their place "and it's an endless
problem," he said.
There are thousands of illegal aliens in Thailand, arriving here mostly by
land. Our 2,200 immigration officers cannot cope with this, he said.
Pol Maj-Gen Chalermdej, whose commission supervises some 800 immigration
officers at Don Muang Airport, said the bureau will concentrate more on
upgrading the standard of immigration officials.
This is necessary during the Amazing Thailand Years, because immigration
officials are the first officials that visitors meet on arrival, he said.
With the recession and the baht depreciation, more tourists will come to
Thailand as it will be cheaper for them, but we must be ready to welcome them,
Tourist agencies registered under the Tourism Authority of Thailand do their
best, he said.
But there are about 70-80 illegal agencies, which he said are mostly run by
foreigners, "that have destroyed our tourism".
Our country must crack down down on these illegal foreign-run tour agencies
because they cheat tourists, he said.