An Australian national, Monique Sutherland, recently came forward with claims of being extorted by Indonesian immigration officials at the I Gusti Ngurah Rai International Airport in Bali. In response, the island’s immigration authorities said that they will look into the case.
News outlets recently reported that Melbourne-based Sutherland alleged that she was forced to pay AUD1,500 (US$1,000) as a penalty for possessing a slightly dirty passport.
According to the 28-year-old, the ordeal began when she was requested to sign a blue form at the Batik Air counter at Melbourne’s Tullamarine Airport. Her seven-year-old passport was slightly soiled and it became the purported reason behind the request.
While she boarded the flight without any hassle, things escalated as she reached the immigration checkpoint in Bali.
Sutherland expressed her dismay at being subjected to intense questioning during a prolonged interrogation session that lasted over an hour.
“Officials continued to come in and out and question me for over an hour. I was hysterical and petrified,” Sutherland revealed.
She said the language barrier exacerbated her anxiety, as she struggled to comprehend the Indonesian conversations and found herself gripped by fear.
In the midst of her growing panic, Sutherland was informed by the officers that she faced the imminent threat of deportation. To her shock and disbelief, she was accused of entering Indonesia with a damaged passport.
Describing her fear as the immigration officers spoke Indonesian and laughed with each other, Sutherland alleged that she was then told that she would be deported unless she paid a fee of AUD1,500.
Sutherland refused to pay at first as she recently became unemployed. The officers allegedly then convinced Sutherland’s mother to pay.
When asked for confirmation, Putu Suhendra Tresnadita, a spokesman for the Ngurah Rai Immigration Office, said that the authorities are actively investigating the incident.
“We are still conducting an investigation to verify whether the incident really happened,” said Tresnadita.