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Serious overcrowding at detention c

October 16, 1997

Serious overcrowding at detention centre
Police ponder how to handle illegal aliens
Suthep Chaviwan

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, 
he said.
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.