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Reports are emerging that the police in Bangkok have been harassing tourists on what is claimed to be a crackdown on illegal drug use.
Visitors and tourists have reported being regularly stopped, searched, interrogated and asked to provide urine samples that if found to test positive for drugs can lead to lengthy fines and prison sentences. Apparently these tests have a 10% margin of accuracy leading to fears that many drug tests have returned back positive when those tested have not taken any drugs.
Random tests in the country are not unusual however in tourist areas it seems the random tests are in the up. Visitor Reese Walker told the Bangkok post in November that she and her fiancé were stopped twice by the police in only two days. The report says that they were searched, interrogated and required to provide samples of urine. According to her report they were doing nothing out of the ordinary when the tests were ordered. In her letter to the editor she said “This is our first and last visit to Thailand, the harassment of tourists is unacceptable, we don’t be recommending other people to visit Thailand based on our two frightening incidents that we believe to be racial profiling.
Critics of the police say that these activities are not intended to reduce crime, but are a means to elicit bribe money from unsuspecting and often terrified tourists. Since the harassment is primarily a means of extortion, even those who are not in possession of drugs and have not tested positive for illegal drug use are in danger. Incriminating evidence can be planted and urine samples can test as positive due to the use of a contaminated container, for example.