Immigration officials in Bali have released formal statements regarded alleged extortion by three border control officers.
An Australian tourist has told the media that she was forced to pay USD 1000 upon arrival in Bali on account of superficial damage to her passport.
The story has been doing the rounds on social media for a couple of days, but now the Department of Immigration in Bali have revealed their side of the story.
Australian tourist Monique Sutherland was traveling to Bali with her mother.
Upon checking into their flight in Melbourne, Sutherland was asked to sign a blue form which she was told by representatives from Batik Air must be presented to immigration officials in Bali.
Sutherland and her mother boarded their flight to Bali without a hitch. Sutherland had even received a stamp and sticker on her passport for her visa on arrival when the immigration officer started asking questions.
In a media interview, Sutherland said that officials “asked if I was alone and if I were a regular traveler (which I’m not) … and then I was taken into a small interrogation room.”
Sutherland describes the ordeal as terrifying, sharing that she was “hysterical and petrified” throughout the hour-long questioning session.
Sutherland revealed that she was instructed to pay a USD 1000 fee for officials to “sort out the issue” with her damaged passport.
She revealed, “However, my passport was actually accepted and already stamped for visa entry, and it wasn’t till I handed them the blue form that I was picked on.”
Sutherland says that when she refused to pay the ‘fee,’ immigration officials then approached her mother, who was convinced to hand over funds.
The Australian Department of Foreign Affairs has said that ‘normal wear and tear’ on a passport should not be an issue for tourists but that tangible damage such as rips, water damage, stains, or marks, especially on the identity page, could cause travel issues.
In light of Sutherland’s account of her and her mother’s ordeal at Bali Airport and the increasing public interest, the Head of the Bali Regional Office for the Ministry of Law and Human Rights, Anggiat Napitupulu, and his teams have investigated the issue.
Speaking at a press conference in Denpasar, Napitupulu shared that an investigation found no violations on the part of the immigration offices at I Gusti Ngurah Rai International.
He told reporters, “Three of our officers have checked there. We have found no violations according to the foreign media reports.”
He continued, “From the statements of the three officers who were examined, there were no sanctions against the foreign tourists in question, and there were no fees related to the condition of the passport in question because it was damaged.”
Napitupulu said, “Our officers examined the foreigner because the passport was suspected of being touched by perfume, so it was damaged. Yes, of course, it is in accordance with the [standard operating procedures]; we will examine it and notify the person concerned,”
When asked about why Sutherland was taken to the interview room rather than being held at the immigration counter in the arrivals hall, Napitupulu said, “That room is the immigration office at the airport.”
“So, we are not allowed to interrogate foreigners at the counter, and it has become [standard operating procedure] at every airport. Regarding being threatened with deportation, it only tells the consequences.”
“Because if the problem of getting people out is due to negligence, airlines can also be subject to sanctions.”
Napitupulu said that the case had tarnished and damaged the good name of Immigration in Bali.
In light of this, Napitupulu has suggested that he and his teams will continue to keep a close eye on CCTV footage throughout the airport to ensure that no false claims can be made against immigration and that immigration teams continue to conduct their work in alignment with the department’s standard operating procedures.
Remove All Ads & Unlock All Articles… Sign up for The Bali Sun Premium
Plan Your Bali Holiday:
Book The Best English Speaking Drivers For Airport Transfers & Tours
Choose From Thousands of Bali Hotels, Resorts, and Hostels with Free Cancellation On Most PropertiesBook Cheap Flights To Bali
Don’t Forget Travel Insurance That Covers Medical Expenses In Bali
For the latest Bali News & Debate Join our Facebook Community
SUBSCRIBE TO NEW POSTS
Enter your email address to subscribe to The Bali Sun’s latest breaking news, straight to your inbox.