As a ratifying state party to the UN Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CAT) which has become effective to the country since 1 November 2007 and a signatory to the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance (ICPPED) since 9 January 2012, Thailand is bound to undertake and implement domestic law in order to fulfill the obligations of the Conventions. Previously, the Rights and Liberties Protection Department (RLPD), Ministry of Justice, has undertaken domestic preparation to implement the draft Act. On 27 December 2016, the draft “Prevention and Suppression of Torture and Enforced Disappearances Act B.E….” was approved by the Cabinet, and further introduced to the National Legislative Assembly (NLA) for consideration.
On 21 February 2017, the NLA called for an ad hoc Vetting Committee which voted to have the draft returned to the Cabinet for another review. We, the undersigned human rights organizations, wish to express concerns with the situation of torture and enforced disappearance in Thailand as follows;
- Given the situations in the Deep South monitored by the undersigned in a normal situation and under the junta’s administration, none of the complaints concerning allegation of torture or enforced disappearance against government officials has been effectively investigated by related government agencies while no offenders has been brought to justice. However, there have been a few cases where victims had sought legal recourse and eventually been compensated. With the absence of domestic law that criminalizes torture and enforced disappearance, the independence and impartiality of government officials, alleged crimes committed by influential officials or committed in acquiescence of the commanding officials, the undersigned express grave concern of the current situation. The existing law does not include family members and relatives as victims of enforced disappearance, nor does it guarantee the access to witness and evidence. In some cases civilians are unable to bring a criminal lawsuit against the military offenders or become a co-plaintiff in the Military Court, victims or family are threatened, harassed, recriminated or threatened with prosecution by alleged officials, including torture allegation of Imam Yapha Kaseng, the enforced disappearance of Somchai Neelapaijit and Pholachi Rakchongcharoen (aka ‘Billy’) where offenders were not brought to justice.
In particular, after the coup staged by the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) on 22 May 2014, the military have been granted power to detain individuals for up to seven days without pressing charges, disclosing the place of detention, or access to lawyers or family members under Martial Law and the Head of the NCPO Orders No. 3/B.E. 2558 (2015) and 13/B.E. 2559 (2016), issued under Article 44 of the Constitution of the Kingdom of Thailand (Interim) B.E. 2557 (2014). With such legal framework, individuals are at risk of torture and enforced disappearance. Article 44, on the contrary, deems any act of military officials under theOrders legal, constitutional and final—legitimizing such acts and enshrining impunity.
- The undersigned express concern of violations of the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CAT), International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance (ICPPED), and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) which provides in Section 7 that “No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment”. The undersigned recognize that Thailand currently has insufficient legislative measure of domestic law to provide effective remedies to victims and their family. However, the Thai Government prosecutes complainants or those reporting allegation of torture, as well as allows does not hold offenders accountable. Further, the undersigned are concerned with the lack of implementation of the draft, and the legitimization of Article 44 of the Constitution of the Kingdom of Thailand (Interim) B.E. 2557 (2014) continues to justify such acts of human rights violation.
The undersigned request the Thai Government to promptly investigate complaints of torture or enforced disappearance, to guarantee the prevention and promotion of complainants of allegation of torture and or enforced disappearance, and implement domestic law in compliance with the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CAT), the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance (ICPPED), and Section 7 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), to which Thailand is a ratifying state party.
With respect for the rights and liberties of the people
Thai Lawyers for Human Rights (TLHR)
Human Rights Lawyers Association (HRLA)
Community Resources Centre Foundation (CRC)
Union for Civil Liberty (UCL)
Cross Cultural Foundation (CrCF)