Human Rights Situation 100 Days after the Coup
By Thai Lawyers for Human Rights
Today (8 September 2014), the Thai Lawyers for Human Rights is submitting a report “human rights situation 100 days after the coup” to Damrongdhama Center, Ministry of Interior. The report accounts for recent changes concerning the human rights situation. The National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) has stopped summoning individuals to report themselves via making televised announcements, and has instead resorted to calling the persons individually. Political demonstrations that used to take place every weekend are not more. Meanwhile, people continue to be subjected to arrests and legal actions.
In the past 100 days, the NCPO has summoned at least 571 individuals to report themselves and among them at least 266 have been prosecuted including 107 in Bangkok, 72 in the North, 45 in the Northeast and the rest in the East and West of Thailand. Among those facing the arrest or summonses, most of them, 396, are individuals involved with the Red Shirt movement, followed 142 of academics and activists and 89 peaceful protesters.
As for legal action, of at least 87 individuals facing legal action, 61 have been indicted with the military court and 26 the Court of Justice. They are being held accountable for failing to report themselves (10 cases), committing firearm offence (42 cases), peaceful demonstration (47 cases), offence against Article 112 (14 cases) and other (10 cases).
Based on over 80 complaints the Thai Lawyers for Human Rights has received or given legal aid to, there are three major issues including the rights in justice process, the right to life and body and the right to freedom of expression which can be explained as follows;
Regarding the rights in justice process it was found that the invocation of Martial Law to hold a person in custody for seven days has led to an abuse of power. Of all the cases of detention, no disclosure of the detention facilities has been made during which time the persons were detained. And in most cases, the detainees were denied access to their families, lawyers and any persons outside. There were at least two persons who were subjected to detention longer than seven days. Regarding the right to bail, it was found that most of the alleged offenders facing weapon possession and Article 112 offences were denied bail whilst those facing charges related to their peaceful assemblies and failure to report themselves to the authority were almost all granted bail. Regarding the verdict, for all cases related to the demonstrations, the Court would convict the defendants to suspended jail term and a fine.
Regarding the right to life and body It was found that among those facing weapon possession charges, at least 14 of them have been subjected to torture including both physical and verbal abuse to force them to confess to the allegations that they had been involved with creating unrest in various demonstration sites or to implicate other persons. Most of those facing arrest or detention are Red Shirt members, particularly their security guards.
Regarding freedom of expression and Article 112 At least 14 cases have been prosecuted. Most of them are ongoing and existing cases that have recently been rushed through. The cases had been reported to the police prior to 22 May 2014 and all of them are involved with peaceful expression by individuals such as through composing poems, performing the play, etc. Almost all of them have been denied bail.
Major concerns 1. At least two cases have been transferred from the Court of Justice to the military court. Both are an offence against Article 112 and internet law. The authorities claim the commission of the offence continues to bear effect even now and therefore the cases can be tried in the military court. If the same rationale is used, there will be at least six more cases to be transferred to and tried in the military court whose independence and ability is being questioned 2. Torture, previously, the officials have kept denying that no such a case has happened. Without making any effort to investigate as per the allegations, they even pressed charges against those revealing incidence of torture.
Major trends It is likely that the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) will not cease using Martial Law and those facing weapon possession charges and Article 112 cases shall not be granted bail. The exercise of power invoking special laws will continue in order to stifle any political dissidence. Demonstrators will be purged and there will be an increase of the use of Article 112. It is likely that special power will be increasingly exercised invoking Article 44 of the Interim Constitution by the NCPO with no checks and balances.
Demands Given the existing situation, the NCPO should promptly initiate an investigation to uncover truth about the alleged human rights abuse and should lift any restriction of the right to freedom of expression. No person should be arrested and held in custody invoking Martial Law. No civilian defendants should be tried in the military court and Martial Law should be revoked countrywide.