Recent news about holidaymakers being mugged or robbed and even killed in Thailand have sent an alarming bell to the international community, for fear of safety of the thousands of foreigners who visit Thailand; as tourists to spend their holidays and vacations.
Leaders of countries like Australia, the United States and the United Kingdom and other European countries are calling on Thai authorities for some concrete actions to ensure the safety of the holidaymakers in Thailand, especially in popular tourist destinations like Phuket and Krabi.
Such calls were heeded by the Thai government which is now considering setting up special fast-track “tourist courts” as a way to quell fears among the tourists and in an attempt to regain tourist confidence in the country.
This proposal is a direct response to the increasing incidences of crimes committed against holidaymakers in the numerous tourist destinations like Phuket and Krabi.
The new Minister of Tourism, Somsak Pureesrisak has asked the courts to prioritize crimes against tourists so that the perpetrators may be put behind bars and allow the foreign guests to enjoy their stay in Thailand. According to the Tourism Minister, “The state should increase punishment against those who commit crimes like robbery and assault on tourists.”
Bangkok will have the first court set up and will be followed by the setting up of similar courts in tourist-populated places like Phuket, Pattaya, Chiang Mai and Koh Samui. Courts will be open for service late into the evening in order to serve tourists who may be needing assistance and legal action against their perpetrators.
Authorities in Thailand have a different opinion about the proposal. The Director of the Tourism Authority of Thailand, Chanchai Duangjit sees the move as a “very good thing for tourists” while Phuket Provincial Police Commander; Choti Chavalviwat would rather that the focus be on preventing crime and not just on quickly processing the tourist-related criminal cases.
Chavalviwat told The Phuket News that he would prefer to see more efforts put into crime prevention through the installation of more CCTV cameras across Phuket, initially, to help police catch the bad guys faster. It will also unburden the judges at the court from having additional work cases.
According to the Police Commander, he called for 5000 more police officers to ensure that tourists are protected from crimes in Phuket. This came following the news about seven expats
murdered in a resort since 2010 and in 2012, 13 violent crimes, 13 attempted robberies, 46 cases of fraud and two rapes were committed against foreign visitors in Thailand.
A British man was shot in January of 2013 during a beach party in Haad Rin in Koh Phangan. Stephen Ashton was killed by a 26 year old Ekkapan Kaewkla.
A British student was gang raped by four Thai men as the British student left a late-night restaurant in Nakhon Sri Thammarat.
Tourists are currently given warning by the Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO) about attacks by gangs in areas such as Koh Phangan, Koh Samui, Chiang Mai and Krabi. Visitors are advised to be vigilant and be alert and guard against pickpockets and bag snatchers. Late night-outs should be avoided.
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