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Passport Control: Phuket police confirm will hold passports as they see fit

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Passport Control: Phuket police confirm will hold passports as they see fit

Tanyaluk Sakoot

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Handing over your passport to settle a vehicle damages claim can cause far more problems than foreseen. Photo: Tanyaluk Sakoot

PHUKET: Police in Phuket will continue to hold onto foreigners’ passports as long as they see fit while carrying out an investigation – even if for nothing more than dealing with private negotiations for damages arising from a minor car accident, The Phuket News confirmed this week.

The issue of Thai authorities holding passports resurfaced after The Phuket News recently followed up on a report that police in Patong had held onto a British national’s passport for more than three weeks, without pressing any charges.

Eventually, after several phone calls by The Phuket News, the claim was quickly settled, and the foreigner was allowed to conduct a “visa run” so that he may legally continue to stay in the country and work.

After initially declining to answer any questions regarding one of his officers retaining a passport for such a long period without taking any legal action, Kathu Police Chief Col Chaiwat Uykam focused his explanation on foreigners facing criminal charges.

“A passport is the most important document that police can obtain as evidence when a foreigner is suspected or involved in a crime in the Kingdom,” he said.

“Depending on the severity of the case, police may withhold a passport until the official investigation is concluded and the passport holder is handed over to the court, then the foreigner can get his or her passport back,” Col Chaiwat explained.

Col Chaiwat declined to define how long his officers will hold onto a passport before charges are pressed.

“We cannot put a time frame on it. It depends on each case,” he said.

Lt Gen Tesa Siriwato, Commander of the Region 8 Police, supported Col Chaiwat’s position on holding passports indefinitely – but only in investigations that lead to criminal charges.

Region 8 Police oversees police operations in seven Southern Thailand provinces: Ranong, Chumphon, Surat Thani, Nakhon Sri Thammarat, Krabi, Phang Nga and Phuket.

“Our policy regarding withholding passports is that we do so only in order to properly identify its holder and that the details in the passport match those recorded in the Immigration database,” he told The Phuket News this week.

“However, it is standard procedure to retain the passports of any foreigners facing any criminal charge, but after the matter has been settled in court and damages have been paid, we have no reason to hold the foreigner’s passport.”

Full story: http://www.thephuketnews.com/passport-control-phuket-police-confirm-will-hold-passports-as-they-see-fit-56076.php

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-- Phuket News 2016-01-06




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incredible and sad as it is a never ending list of more scary news for Expats and tourist in Thailand.

"“A passport is the most important document that police can obtain as evidence when a foreigner is suspected or involved in a crime in the Kingdom,” he said."

"Col Chaiwat declined to define how long his officers will hold onto a passport before charges are pressed.

We cannot put a time frame on it. It depends on each case,” he said.

Do they hold Thais National ID cards and passports when they are involved in some legal dispute? Just wondering. :)

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First question would be - do the "boys" have the legal right to confiscate and hold a passport? I thought that they don't. My belief is that it would require an order from the court.

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police in Patong had held onto a British national’s passport for more than three weeks, without pressing any charges.

and as usual the British Embassy did sweet FA bah.gif

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First question would be - do the "boys" have the legal right to confiscate and hold a passport? I thought that they don't. My belief is that it would require an order from the court.

This is the verbal prove that BIB is considering themselves as judge, jury and executioner.

Remember the thousand over souls during an anti-drug campaign when the PM was an ex-cop?

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Contacted by The Phuket News this week about their position on handing passports over, the British embassy in Bangkok noted, “It is a valuable document and remains the property of the British Government. It should not be used as a guarantee or deposit for anything with a third party.”

However, the embassy also recognised, “As part of Court proceedings and on the basis of legal advice, you may decide to surrender your passport as part of bail conditions.” (Click here for UK Government travel advice for British nationals in Thailand.)

Similarly, the US embassy in Bangkok noted, “We encourage US citizens to comply with local law enforcement requests and instructions.”

However, the embassy also noted, “Assisting US citizens in need is our highest priority and an individuals should contact the US Embassy if he or she has any concerns or if any assistance is required.” (Click here for information about US embassy services provided to US citizens in Thailand.)

The US embassy specifically warned American nationals against scams by car, motorbike and jet-ski operators falsely claiming exorbitant amounts of money for damages to their vehicles, but added, “Note that the Embassy cannot intervene in personal financial disputes; however, you can apply for a new passport at the US Embassy or Consulate General if you have not recovered your passport.” (Click here for details.)

The Australian embassy in Bangkok noted, “Passports are valuable documents that should be appropriately protected… Australians should not provide passports as deposits or guarantees under any circumstances.”

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Utterly BS as usual but TIT!

Only a court can confiscate a passport from a person as a measure stopping a person from leaving a country. They can look at it photocopy it to establish true identity......

If we look into "small print" - a passport is not even a property of the person it is issued to. Mine says something like property of the kingdom of ....... and i am purely a holder of the privilege to be issued one.....

Clearly the BIB is here taking a "god" role and stretching their legal rights again, but that is no surprise. coffee1.gif

If me I would never have waited 3 weeks, same day as told this BS i would have involved the embassy. as they are not allowed to confiscate it without a court order.

they where most likely fishing for a brown envelope.

wai2.gif

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Under customary international law, passports are the property of the state which issued them In the case of a British passport, for example, the document belongs to the British government and not to the passport holder. The international case-law is clear - the impounding of a foreigner's passport is impermissible interference with the jurisdiction of the issuing State

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Utterly BS as usual but TIT!

Only a court can confiscate a passport from a person as a measure stopping a person from leaving a country. They can look at it photocopy it to establish true identity......

If we look into "small print" - a passport is not even a property of the person it is issued to. Mine says something like property of the kingdom of ....... and i am purely a holder of the privilege to be issued one.....

Clearly the BIB is here taking a "god" role and stretching their legal rights again, but that is no surprise. coffee1.gif

If me I would never have waited 3 weeks, same day as told this BS i would have involved the embassy. as they are not allowed to confiscate it without a court order.

they where most likely fishing for a brown envelope.

wai2.gif

good info, but what would be helpful to everyone reading these comments is to post a link to the Thai law that addresses this issue.

If it is illegal to confiscate a passport, maybe along with a copy of your passport you carry a copy of the law written in Thai.

Of course along with your CNN or BBC foreign correspondent business card. :)

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Contacted by The Phuket News this week about their position on handing passports over, the British embassy in Bangkok noted, “It is a valuable document and remains the property of the British Government. It should not be used as a guarantee or deposit for anything with a third party.”

However, the embassy also recognised, “As part of Court proceedings and on the basis of legal advice, you may decide to surrender your passport as part of bail conditions.” (Click here for UK Government travel advice for British nationals in Thailand.)

Similarly, the US embassy in Bangkok noted, “We encourage US citizens to comply with local law enforcement requests and instructions.”

However, the embassy also noted, “Assisting US citizens in need is our highest priority and an individuals should contact the US Embassy if he or she has any concerns or if any assistance is required.” (Click here for information about US embassy services provided to US citizens in Thailand.)

The US embassy specifically warned American nationals against scams by car, motorbike and jet-ski operators falsely claiming exorbitant amounts of money for damages to their vehicles, but added, “Note that the Embassy cannot intervene in personal financial disputes; however, you can apply for a new passport at the US Embassy or Consulate General if you have not recovered your passport.” (Click here for details.)

The Australian embassy in Bangkok noted, “Passports are valuable documents that should be appropriately protected… Australians should not provide passports as deposits or guarantees under any circumstances.”

Just love the Expats' Embassies positions......CYA all the way...

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Utterly BS as usual but TIT!

Only a court can confiscate a passport from a person as a measure stopping a person from leaving a country. They can look at it photocopy it to establish true identity......

If we look into "small print" - a passport is not even a property of the person it is issued to. Mine says something like property of the kingdom of ....... and i am purely a holder of the privilege to be issued one.....

Clearly the BIB is here taking a "god" role and stretching their legal rights again, but that is no surprise. coffee1.gif

If me I would never have waited 3 weeks, same day as told this BS i would have involved the embassy. as they are not allowed to confiscate it without a court order.

they where most likely fishing for a brown envelope.

wai2.gif

good info, but what would be helpful to everyone reading these comments is to post a link to the Thai law that addresses this issue.

If it is illegal to confiscate a passport, maybe along with a copy of your passport you carry a copy of the law written in Thai.

Of course along with your CNN or BBC foreign correspondent business card. smile.png

My understanding is that a Thai law is somewhat irrelevant. The issue is one of established customary international law. This article is primarily about the impounding of foreign passports by the USA, but the principles apply more generally:

http://digitalcommons.law.ggu.edu/annlsurvey/vol16/iss1/6/?utm_source=digitalcommons.law.ggu.edu%2Fannlsurvey%2Fvol16%2Fiss1%2F6&utm_medium=PDF&utm_campaign=PDFCoverPages

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To me, if the issue is seizing the passport principally as a means to avoid flight by the accused while there is an open legal matter, then an immigration "stopper" might seem to be an effective workaround in lieu of seizing the actual passport.

However, I'm sure they are places where a stopper may not be noticed or acted upon, thus seizing the passport might have a stronger deterrent effect.

I do think it's fair for a sovereign nation to insure that a foreigner remains in country while there is a pending legal matter - more so for criminal matters, but I think civil matters should also be addressed before a foreigner is given exit clearance.

That said, I do think there needs to be fair balance between how long an agency may detain a passport before its ether returned or a more formal action like an arrest warrant, indictment or similar is taken - and absent that, the foreigner be permitted free movement to include departure.

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It is common in Thailand for Police and Courts to hold a passport and bail when there is a criminal legal case involved. In conjunction with this, a court will issue an order to immigration, to flag or black list this person from leaving the Kingdom. Once the criminal case is concluded and no detention has been ordered, the passport must be returned to its holder. Please note that I said holder, as ownership of a passport is always with the nation issuing it!

If detention is ordered by a court, either served of suspended, the judge, but more commonly a police officer, can and will detain you further, when you go back to pick up your passport from him. This is for black listing and deportation to your country of origin. Now this is the law and some police officers are nice and some aren't! Its up to the relationship between you and the case officer.

In the case of no detention ordered, it is also a good idea to get a copy of the court order to show to immigration as often they can still see the black list in the system.

As is unfortunately so common in Thailand, people use passports as surety for various civil business transactions, with those keeping the passports as surety, thinking they are of major financial value and will guarantee payment of a civil debt by their holder.

This sadly is not a fact, as I have seen multiple instances where someone has been left with a now valueless passport and an irate embassy legally demanding its return to the embassy in question.

A civil case is very different to a criminal case, as in Thailand, embassies on a daily basis issue a cheap temporary passport for one that has been lost lost or "mislaid" thus allowing the holder to depart the kingdom at will. Often this is because of an unsolved commercial matter!

Every case is different and both Thai's and foreigners are badly done by this sort of scenario.

As long as you are not blacklisted from leaving Thailand by a court or in a rare exception police, you may leave at will on a temporary passport!

Just keep in mind that if you leave early there is the potential of a civil case being started and completed in your absence and then a criminal case being started and completed in your absence to seek financial compensation. In this situation, you will be arrested at the airport on arrival and taken in hand cuffs to a police station and a court!

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So, back to the original premise: Why to foreigners subject themselves to the scams in Phuket? I tell my friends to avoid it like the plague. Too many other places to go in Thailand that are 'farang friendly'. Phuket? I won't even go there any longer. Why would I suggest that armpit of The LOS to others?

But to paraphrase (and lampoon) Barry O: If you like your Phuket, you can keep your Phuket. dry.png

Your mileage may vary.

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Under customary international law, passports are the property of the state which issued them In the case of a British passport, for example, the document belongs to the British government and not to the passport holder. The international case-law is clear - the impounding of a foreigner's passport is impermissible interference with the jurisdiction of the issuing State

Only if the 'state' is willing to go to bat for it's citizens.

And carry a copy of your passport. Never surrender it willingly. I stopped using mine as collateral years ago. No, I don't need to rent your motorcycle. Want my business, make a copy. If it's taken, by anyone, report it to your embassy immediately.

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