Thailand’s Immigration Police have arrested eight people in just three days after activating a new biometric system at the country’s 16 international airports. Authorities also handed out more than 81 million baht in fines, which is expected to help pay for the system’s price tag, pegged at a hefty 2 billion baht.
The eight people in question were all traveling with fake passports and were moving through Thailand on their way to other countries. Most were planning to head from Thailand to the UK or another country to seek asylum. One individual was on his way to South Korea to search for work. All eight were caught because their biometric information did not match the information in their passports, several of which had been flagged as stolen.
According to Thai authorities, the new biometrics system has already screened more than 17 million people. In addition to the eight fake passports, the system has spotted 1,123 people on blacklists and 45,669 staying in Thailand with expired Visas, and led to the arrests of 662 people with outstanding warrants.
The news comes shortly after Thailand ordered 15 million e-passports from Thales, and indicates that the biometric screening system is part of a broader biometric overhaul of the country’s immigration practices. Thailand’s chief immigration officer, meanwhile, is arguing that the new system reflects the latest international standards. Biometric screening is becoming increasingly commonplace at international airports, and has been used to make border arrests in the United States.
September 16, 2019 – by Eric Weiss