Thai authorities to deport 70 Pakistani asylum seekers

Pakistani refugees exit a police truck as they arrive at the Immigration Detention Center, on Thursday, Oct. 11, 2018, in Bangkok, Thailand. (AP Photo/Tassanee Vejpongsa)
Updated 11 October 2018
0

Thai authorities to deport 70 Pakistani asylum seekers

  • Separately on Thursday, immigration police said they charged 24 foreigners with overstaying their visas
  • Thailand regularly deports foreigners who are in the country illegally

BANGKOK: Thai authorities on Thursday convicted 70 Pakistani asylum seekers of staying illegally in Thailand despite their protestations that they face persecution if they are sent home, as police intensify a crackdown on illegal immigration.
The Taling Chan Provincial Court issued fines and up to two-month suspended jail sentences to the group, which was charged with overstaying their visas and illegal entry. An officer in charge of the case, who declined to be named because of office policy, said they will be held in a detention center until they are deported.
The group was accompanied by 11 children who will also be held in the detention center.
One of the defendants, Emmanuel Shan, said the group consists mostly of Christian Pakistanis and some Ahmadi Muslims, and that members of the two religious groups face persecution in Pakistan.
"I'm Christian and my life and family are not safe back in Pakistan," he said.
In 1984, predominately Muslim Pakistan enacted amendments to its constitution which punish Ahmadis who call themselves Muslims "or pose to be Muslims" with up to three years in prison.
Police said 52 of the defendants were arrested Tuesday after they were found to have formed a group that smuggled Pakistani asylum seekers into Thailand with the goal of reaching other countries.
Thailand regularly deports foreigners who are in the country illegally, even if they are recognized by the United Nations as refugees who are fleeing persecution.
Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Busadee Santipitaks said Thailand is not part of the United Nation's 1951 Refugee Convention and authorities have to act on violations of the law. She said the government deals with migrants with U.N. refugee status on a case-by-case basis.
Phil Robertson, deputy director of Human Rights Watch's Asia division, said those who have refugee status or whose cases are being processed should not be detained.
"This is a rights-abusing populist policy that denigrates Thailand and makes Thailand look cruel," Robertson said.
On Monday, Thai authorities announced they would step up efforts to arrest foreigners without appropriate legal status.
Lt. Gen. Kongcheep Tantravanich, spokesman for the Ministry of Defense, said Defense Minister Prawit Wongsuwan has ordered a one-month campaign to crack down on foreigners overstaying their visas.
Police Lt. Gen. Suttipong Wongpin, acting commissioner of the immigration bureau, said last week that the government had instructed police to strictly enforce the law on foreigners who violate immigration law.
Separately on Thursday, immigration police said they charged 24 foreigners with overstaying their visas and 11 others with illegal entry.


Saudi Arabia to make biggest investment in Pakistan’s history – Umar

Updated 13 December 2018
0

Saudi Arabia to make biggest investment in Pakistan’s history – Umar

  • Finance Minister says Islamabad has already received the first installment of the $1bn support package extended by Riyadh
  • Kingdom has also shown an interest in country’s largest coastal refinery

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s Finance Minister Asad Umar said on Thursday that an incoming investment package from Saudi Arabia had the potential to be “the biggest foreign investment in the country’s history”, reports in the Pakistani media said.
While addressing an event in Islamabad, Umar said: “The ball is in our court. It is going to the cabinet for approval next week, after which the announcement will be made.”
Following Prime Minister Imran Khan’s maiden visit to the Kingdom in September this year, a high-level Saudi delegation had visited Pakistan to discuss economic ties and investment opportunities.
Later, during PM Khan’s second visit to the country in October, both Pakistan and Saudi Arabia signed an agreement under which the Kingdom agreed to place a deposit of $3 billion for a period of one year to support Islamabad in its balance of payment crisis.
Both countries had also agreed that a one-year deferred payment facility for imported oil, up to $3 billion, will be provided by Saudi Arabia. This arrangement will be in place for three years, which will be reviewed thereafter.
Pakistan has already received the first tranche of $1 billion under the balance of payments support package extended by Saudi Arabia in November, with the second and third installments to be received in the next two months.
In recent months, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia have agreed to enhance their business and trade ties.
Saudi Arabia has also shown an interest to invest in Pakistan’s largest coastal refinery, a multibillion-dollar project being set up at Khalifa Point, near Hub in Balochistan. The details were confirmed to Arab News last month by Sher Afghan Khan, spokesman for the Ministry of Energy (petroleum division) and a board member of the Pak-Arab Refinery Limited (PARCO).