How to Visit the IDC

IDC stands for the Immigration Detention Center. The IDC is the location where non-Thai people are held during the process to determine if and whether they will be returned to their home country. International law and pressure makes it difficult for the jail to return people to their home country, and in the context of refugees, returning home would put people’s lives in danger. For this reason, this temporary holding jail, instead becomes a de facto long term jail facility, where people may be incarcerated indefinitely. Major problems inside the IDC include:

  • Detained children
  • Overcrowded cells
  • Dubious access to medical care
  • Low quality or inedible food

The good news is that people are able to visit the IDC. Your short visit can bring some light and much needed supplies to people living inside. There are many groups visiting and to visit an entire family, volunteers are needed to have each member of the family released into the visitation area. The visitation area is a large group near the cells separated by a gate on the detainee side, and a gate on the visitor side. The visitation is public and the area becomes crowded easily. Often people may need to shout at each other through the fence to be heard. All items being brought into the facility are searched and even food packaging should be easy to inspect. Suspicious items or giving too much of any certain item, may result in these donations being rejected or confiscated.

Visiting times are only between 10.30 – 11.30am Monday – Friday. Registration to visit is only open from 8.30 – 10.00am. If you miss the registration period, they will not give you the forms needed to visit and you would have wasted your trip to IDC.

To register you will need:

  • Your passport (with a valid visa).
  • A photocopy of these pages (there is a fax/copy shop located across from the entrance on Suan Phlu).
  • Name, nationality, cellroom number, and ID number of the detainee you would like to visit. (Which I will provide)
  • A local address that you can use to fill out the form.
  • Conservative dress (i.e. no tank tops for men or women)
  • Bring your own ink pen for filling out the forms.
  • Bring a permanent marker to Label your bag of items. (Put the name and idc number of the person your are visiting on the outside of your bagged goods and water bottles.)

Technically, one visitor is only allowed to visit one detainee. If two visitors request to visit the father and mother of a family, the younger children will be able to come and join the visit as well. This arrangement is preferred because the biggest reason people visit IDC is so that detained fathers will get to see their children. During normal hours, fathers (males) are kept separate from mothers (females) and their children. Fathers only get to see their children during visiting hours if two visitors visit each parent.

IDC will give each visitor a basket for things to give to detainees. It’s recommended to bring only a basket full of food, necessities, books, and/or toys for the families. Any larger than a basket and they won’t let it in.

Before entering the visitation courtyard, you’ll have to store your belongings and personal items in a locker. You’ll be able to bring in small things such as notepads, pens/pencils, or money to give to detainees. After storing things in the locker, the officers will pat you down and go through the basket for contraband.

As of recently, you will not be able to leave early and will have to spend the entire hour in the visiting area.

Things to note:

  1. It is extremely hot; (bring a bottle of cool water for yourself, a cool cloth while you wait in registration area.)
  2. It is extremely crowded on Fridays. Other days are less crowded
  3. You cannot bring medicines without special permission
  4. Be respectful of guards as they can keep you from entering at their discretion