Don’t pay money under the table, fight it in court – says Employment chief
PHUKET: All foreigners who believe that they have been wrongfully arrested for breaching the conditions of their work permit must fight for their rights, said the chief of the Phuket Provincial Employment Office (PPEO).
“If the police insist on arresting you, let them do it. If they threaten to detain you, let them. You have the right to deny the charge in court. If you have done nothing wrong, you have nothing to fear,” PPEO chief Yaowapa Pibulpol told the Phuket Gazette last week.
“Do not pay any money ‘under the table’ if officers ask for it. This only encourages corruption.”
Ms Yaowapa was adamant that only genuine cases of foreigners working illegally would be upheld by the court.
“If you are not breaching the conditions of your work permit, Employment Office personnel will present themselves in court to explain to police [and the court] any ‘misunderstandings’ the officers may have had,” she said.
“Let the judge determine whether or not you are guilty. Many foreigners have successfully defended such charges from the police in the past.”
Ms Yaowapa confirmed that no penalties for people breaching the conditions of their work permit include deportation.
“The only people who should worry about being deported over working illegally are those caught working without being issued any kind of work permit. Doing so breaks immigration law, and immigration officers have the right to deport foreigners,” she said.
“Breaching work permit conditions incurs only fines. However, if you continue working after your work permit has expired – that’s a jailable offense.”
Even then, such a penalty can only be handed down by a judge, Ms Yaowapa added (story here).
Deputy Secretary-General of the Public Sector Anti-Corruption Commission (PACC) Prayong Preeyachitt voiced his full support for Ms Yaowapa.
He even advised wrongly arrested foreigners to take counter-action.
“If police bring you in for questioning, detain you, then send your case to court – and the court finds you not guilty, you have the right to file complaint against those officers,” he said.
Foreigners acquitted by the court could file a complaint at the police station where the officer works, with the officer’s commanding officer, with the PACC or with the Damrongtham center (ombudsman’s office) at Provincial Hall.
Prapan Kanprasang, chief of the Damrongtham Center, assured that his office was willing to investigate claims of police harassment.
“Police have the right to question anyone about suspicious behavior, but they should not repeatedly bring in the same people for questioning about the same matter.
If the same officers are bringing in the same person for the same charge, then it is time to fight back, said the recently reinstated Chalong Police Superintendent Sirisak Wasasiri
“These kinds of officers should be prosecuted. It will deter others from doing the same,” Col Sirisak said.
“The worse thing to do is give them money. Doing so only encourages them, and they will be back for more.”
— Saran Mitrarat
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