Travellers and migrant workers accused border police at the Poipet Cambodian-Thai international checkpoint in Banteay Meanchey province yesterday of demanding bribes of nearly $20 from first-time border crossers and $3 bribes from those who regularly make the crossing in exchange for permission to enter Thailand.
Sao Mony, 19 – a resident of Chey Krohim village in Prey Veng province’s Pearaeng district – said that he, along with six others in his group, was asked to pay 600 baht (about $19.50) by border police in order to cross at the Poipet checkpoint. He added that repeat travellers told him that they were asked to pay 100 baht.
“It is not proper procedure, because the border police still ask us to pay money regardless of the legal passports we are holding,” he said.
Rin Bona, 25, was one of a group of 10 workers with permission to work in Thailand’s Sakeo province who said that he was asked to pay 400 baht despite being a frequent crosser.
According to clothing vendor Khiev Borei, bribery is rife at the crossing. Bribes are paid in stages, he added, with 100 to 600 baht going towards an unofficial fee for a passport stamp, and another 30,000 riel ($7.50) being paid to Cambodian border police upon delivery of a seven-day validation document issued by the Thais.
Sam Chankea, a provincial co-ordinator for the rights group Adhoc, said that such bribes were not uncommon, but rather “the culture” at the Poipet crossing.
“The striking point is whether the officials of the Anti-Corruption Unit are aware of it or not, because it has a critical impact on social order and the reputation of the country,” he said.
The border checkpoint’s director could not be reached for comment yesterday, but provincial police chief Kheng Sum said that he had ordered border police not to charge visitors at all.
“The case of travellers paying the border police at the border checkpoint in exchange for getting faster service and avoiding being in the queue does not exist anymore now,” he said.
To contact the reporter on this story: Kim Sarom at [email protected]