Police step up watch on shelters
To prevent Rohingya illegal immigrants fleeing shelters in the South in order to stay or work in Thailand illegally, police have been instructed to guard them around the clock, a senior officer said yesterday.Pol Colonel Surachet Hakphal was referring to intelligence reports that Thai and Rohingya agents, disguised as visitors or donors, had approached the migrants and tried to convince them to escape from the shelters in order to work illegally in Thailand, likely using the Bt300 daily minimum wage as an incentive.
More than 1,300 Rohingya are residing temporarily in numerous shelters in several southern provinces. At all shelters, non-Thai visitors will be especially carefully monitored and required to register, the officer said.
Meanwhile, a boat carrying 205 Rohingya entered Thai waters off Phuket yesterday, but the group said they were heading for Malaysia. Thai Marine Police gave them fresh water and food supplies before towing the boat out of Thai waters.
In a related development, a local politician based in Songkhla has contacted police to arrange his surrender to face changes of unlawfully sheltering and detaining Rohingya who entered Thailand illegally.
Police said Prasert Lemlae, a deputy mayor of Padang Besar municipality in Sadao district, and Myanmar national Jama Nadin would likely be released on bail, assuming they turn up today at Padang Besar police station to face both charges. A third suspect for whom an arrest warrant was issued, Saroj Kaewmanee, turned himself in to police last Thursday and has been released on bail.
The officer, a deputy provincial police chief, said the temporary release of both Prasert and Jama was possible because the allegations against them do not include trafficking. "Human trafficking is a crime for which release is not permissible, but there is no evidence indicating human trafficking," he said.
At a meeting of the Thai-Malaysia joint working committee in Hat Yai district yesterday, Fourth Army Area chief Lt-General Udomchai Thammasarojrat said panel members from both countries agreed that the problem of illegal Rohingya migration was not new, and was not solely the problem of either country.