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Lawyers look to expand free legal advice at police stations

Lawyers look to expand free legal advice at police stations

PHUKET: Pol Gen Chatchawan Suksomchit, chairman of the Senate Standing Commission on Law, Justice and Police, was in Phuket on Tuesday (May 2) to hear a proposal to have more lawyers providing free legal advice at police stations in Phuket.

By The Phuket News

Thursday 4 May 2023, 01:45PM

The proposal was put forward by Rungnapha Putkaew, President of the Phuket branch of the Lawyers Council of Thailand, at the branch’s headquarters at PK International Law Office on Chao Fa Est Rd in Chalong.

There are currently 76 registered lawyers willing to perform the service, Ms Rungnapha said.

However, there is currently only one lawyer present at Patong Police Station and Phuket City Police Station providing free legal advice from 8:30am to 4:30pm, including on weekends and public holidays, she explained.

The aim is to have more lawyers providing free legal advice to people in need at police stations, including tourists, Ms Rungnapha said.

“I have suggested that ‘free’ lawyers be provided at more police stations, including Chalong Police Station, Thalang Police Station and Wichit Police Station,” she added.

The lawyers would be able to provide assistance to foreigners on basic legal issues, such as traffic accidents, Ms Rungnapha said.

“Some of the lawyers have language skills to help foreigners with basic legal advice, and if on the day the lawyer cannot communicate well [with the foreigner], we would suggest the foreigner return another day to meet with another lawyer,” she added.

However, the limitations come from funding. The lawyers providing the service are paid by the government, Ms Rungnapha admitted. She declined to elaborate on how much the lawyers are paid for providing free legal advice.

The project to have lawyers providing free legal advice has encountered funding difficulties since its inception. The project was initially proposed in 2019, but its launch was delayed due to delays in government funding being made available.

The project to have lawyers providing free legal advice at police stations has the potential to bring much benefit, especially for locations such as Phuket, where there is a great diversity in the types of people on the island, Ms Rungnapha said.

“The Phuket [branch of the] Lawyers Council has the potential to be able to solve problems for foreigners, especially tourists who encounter various problems, including the matter of accidents,” she said.

“The project has the ability to solve problems for local people and tourists in the preliminary stages. In addition, if people receive services from volunteer lawyers, which is free of charge, it will reduce the financial burden for local people in the area. People will benefit directly,” she continued.

The proposal to the Committee on Law, Justice and Police will be considered by the Senate, Pol Gen Chatchawan said.

The work of ‘volunteer lawyers’ will be brought to the Senate’s attention, and their potential positive impact on the tourism sector, Gen Chatchawan, a former chief of the national Immigration Bureau, said.

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Kurt | 05 May 2023 - 10:24:21

When RTP arrests you, is the Thai law giving you the right to demand a lawyer present before answering questions in RTP station?

JohnC | 05 May 2023 - 09:29:08

Great idea! They should be handing out legal advice to the RTP officers first. Starting with; bribery and extortion is ILLEGAL and you will get caught and most likely lose your livelihood and lose face in a big way, which seems to matter a lot to Thais.


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