HRW: Thailand army chief blocking criminal investigations

HRW: Thailand army chief blocking criminal investigations

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[JURIST] Human Rights Watch (HRW) [advocacy website] urged the government of Thailand [press release] on Thursday to order its army chief to stop obstructing investigations into political violence in 2010 arising from anti-government protests [JURIST news archive]. Last week the army chief, General Prayuth Chan-ocha, told the Thai Ministry of Justice [official website, in Thai] to stop accusing soldiers of killing protesters during government crackdowns in 2010 and not to publicize the findings of its investigations. HRW noted that no Thai soldiers have been held accountable for violence in 2010. In the press release, executive director of HRW’s Asia division Brad Adams criticized the Thai government for not taking stronger action against its army chief

Abuses by soldiers took place in full view of the Thai public and the world’s media, yet the Thai army chief is now trying to intimidate investigators and critics into silence. The government should prosecute all those responsible for crimes during the 2010 violence, including members of the military, who should not be above the law.

At least 98 people died during clashes between the army and protesters in 2010.

Earlier in August a Thai court postponed its verdict [JURIST report] in the case against leaders of the “red shirt” [BBC backgrounder; JURIST news archive] movement for violating terms of their bail. Those defendants were among the nine who were released [JURIST report] in February of last year amid organized peaceful rallies calling for the release of the remaining red shirt leaders. A month earlier the red shirts petitioned [JURIST report] the International Criminal Court (ICC) [official website; JURIST backgrounder] to launch a preliminary investigation into whether the government committed crimes against humanity during the 2010 protests. The application for petition [text, PDF] cited specific evidence developing a substantial basis to show that international crimes of murder, imprisonment and other severe deprivation of physical liberty, other inhumane acts and persecution were committed in conjunction with the suppression of red shirt protest. In 2010 the red shirts initiated the protests [JURIST report] against the Thai government calling for elections. The protests ended two months after when protesters surrendered [JURIST report] to the police.