Rights group demnads probe into police raid
A civil rights group is demanding an urgent investigation into a dawn police raid at a migrant workers’ community in Chiang Mai.
The Nation Published on February 22, 2008
The Bangkok-based Cross Cultural Foundation (CrCF) yesterday issued a statement claiming that 12 officers from San Kamphaeng Police Station took part in a raid on Wednesday without a search warrant at a camp for migrant workers at Moo Baan Karnkanok in Tambon Tonpao.
“Police officers demanded keys to 15 motorbikes parked in the camp and then asked who the registered owners were and to see all the registration booklets. Some of the owners were summoned by workers to the camp to speak with officers. However, two registration books could not immediately be found nor the owners contacted, and and the motorcycles confiscated by the police. A third motorbike was confiscated because the police said its mirror had been removed,” it stated.
CrCF president and human rights lawyer Somchai Homlaor said such behaviour required urgent investigation by the authorities.
“This behaviour is clearly unlawful. It is an abuse of power against vulnerable migrant communities in breach of rule of law principles enunciated in Article 3 of the Thai Constitution. It instils fear among migrant communities and makes their lives miserable,” the lawyer said.
Colonel Chak On-nim, chief of San Kamphaeng police, told The Nation that he accepted the principle of human rights and had no objection to migrant workers from Burma coming to work in Thailand.
“But human rights must be based on the public interest. We had often received complaints from villagers at Baan Karnkanok about thefts in the village. We searched the most suspicious places because we had the complaints,” he said.
Lt-Colonel Chatchai Banharn, who led 15 officers on the raid, said he had not asked for a search warrant because the migrant workers lived in temporary shacks at a construction site with no official house registration numbers.
Chatchai said the police operation at Baan Karnkanok was to search for illegal migrant workers. “If we didn’t go at dawn, they would have already gone to work,” he said.
The police team, however, did not make any arrests
Nang Man, a Shan woman who witnessed the police operation, said police ordered the workers to gather outside their rooms but there was no intimidation or physical assault.
Thai resident Sarawadee Srirueng said she did not believe migrant workers in the camp were thieves.
“Most people I know come here to work and they don’t make any trouble to us,” said Sarawadee, who runs a convenience store in the village.