BANGKOK — A top police official urged tougher security checks on migrant workers in the wake of the rape and assault of two French tourists allegedly by five Cambodian workers in eastern Thailand.
Police should keep their eyes closely on millions of migrant workers in Thailand because, a deputy commander of the Royal Thai Police told reporters Monday, they are responsible for most crimes committed against foreign tourists.
“Most criminal actions against foreigners happen because of alien workers from the three nations that come to work in Thailand,” Gen. Pongsapat Pongcharoen said, referring to Myanmar, Cambodia and Laos.
Pongsapat’s remark came several days after two female French tourists were raped and two of their male relatives brutally assaulted on Koh Kut in Trat province Saturday night.
Five Cambodian workers on a fishing boat were arrested and identified by police as the perpetrators. They are being held on charges of rape and physical assault. Police say the victims are still hospitalized.
The incident shows that police need to do more extensive criminal background check on “alien workers” in the country, Police Gen. Pongsapat said.
“From now on, relevant officials have to increase measures in monitoring alien workers in Thailand,” Pongsapat told reporters. “Such as inspecting their records, inspecting whether they have any criminal background. It has to be systematic. In the event of a crime, police will be able to swiftly track them down and arrest them.”
Pongsapat did not furnish any data to support his claim.
Official statistics say there are around 2.2 million registered migrant workers in Thailand, mostly from Myanmar. The actual number is higher due to widespread illegal migration and undocumented foreign labor.
Many migrant workers work low-paid, menial jobs deemed undesirable by Thais, such as housekeeping, and fishery and factory jobs.
Although there are occasional fights and violent crimes involving migrant workers, cases of migrant workers assaulting foreign tourists are rare, with one notable exception being the murder of two British backpackers on Koh Tao in 2014, which police blamed on two Myanmar workers.
Media reports suggest that instances of Thai nationals attacking foreign tourists are much more frequent. In February, there were at least two reported cases of Thais beating up tourists in the resort town of Pattaya alone.
Trat governor Channa Ieamsang also expressed his belief that it is rare for Cambodian workers in the province to attack foreign tourists.
“Most of Cambodian fishing crew don’t commit crimes like this,” Channa said Monday.
Nevertheless, he said, he will order increased police patrols throughout tourist destinations in Trat to deter such incidents in the future.