Thailand is very safe for tourists but from time to time a number of tourists are bothered by the police unintentionally. As appearing in many news articles lately, Bangkok police accelerate random visitor urine tests, searches, interrogations on western tourists and expats. There has been a rapidly increasing policy of harassing western visitors and residents in Bangkok, such individuals are now regularly being stopped by Bangkok police, where they are interrogated, searched, and made to contribute urine samples. Thankfully, we do not have this problem in Chiang Rai.
How common is this situation in Thailand? Over the past few months, it has happened to numerous westerners living in Thailand, and it has occurred more and more frequently, especially in Bangkok and Pattaya (as it should).
In the November 29, 2014 issue of the visitor comment on Bangkok Post, visitor Reese Walker described how she and her fiancé were stopped twice by police two days in a roll, interrogated, searched, and urine-sampled. The police refused to give the couple the reasons for the search and even laughed at them.
On 9 December 2014, police at Thonglor District have said on the record that foreigners or tourists have the right to say “no” if police ask you to do drug test. The quotes will be published in an article coming in the next few days from a major global news outlet. This news publisher has followed up on the growing concern from expats and tourists at the random stop and searches around the Sukhumvit and Asoke area of Bangkok where officers are asking for urine samples for an on the spot drug test.
So what if you are stopped and even happen to be arrested for any cause in Thailand? The following are rough guidelines.
- If you’re stopped by police in Bangkok or some night-life destination, first, make sure they are real police and the stop is in a public place, like in front of a night club or on a crowded street. Tell the police openly that you’re a tourist and and having fun during your vacation in Thailand and you have nothing illegal with you. Chances are that police will let you leave easily. If they still insist to search you, just refer to the announcement from Thai police that you have the right to say no.
- If you’re in major nightlife spots such as Pattaya or Khaosan Road, try to get to the tourist police. They are normally persons who speak English very well, and are more polite and professional than local police. However, they are not law enforcement officers but they can act as intermediaries and translators when you’re dealing with the real police, or with fake police.
- If you are taken to a police facility for any reason, do not sign anything. You might be verbally insulted by some rude police. Just refuse to sign. If you do sign it will lead to bigger problems.
- Immediately demand that the police contact your embassy on your behalf.
- Carry a copy of your passport with you. Don’t hand over your actual passport to a Police Officer. Say that passport is the most important piece of document so you don’t carry it around, and you keep it in a safe in your hotel or something like that.
- If you come in group, try to get at least one person released in order to contact your embassy. You can tell them you need to go to the hospital or you’re very sick. This may not work well but you can take a chance. Thai police tend to avoid incidents that involve foreigners getting injured on police premise.
- With the help of technology, try to get attention from news media and social media as much as possible. Thai Police normally don’t act aggressively if they know that the incident will go to news.