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Amnesty: torture allegations in Koh Tao murder case must be investigated
Amnesty: torture allegations in Koh Tao murder case must be investigated

[JURIST] Amnesty International (AI) [[advocacy website] on Thursday called for [AI report] a thorough investigation into torture allegations levied against the police responsible for the arrests of two men in relation to the Koh Tao murders. The men, Zaw Lin and Win Zaw Tun, were found guilty Thursday of the murder of two British tourists in the vacation island of Koh Tao. The defense team for the Myanmar nationals claims that their confessions were coerced, and that DNA evidence linking the men to the crime was severely mishandled and unreliable. The defense further alleges that the men are being used as scapegoats to preserve Thailand’s image as a popular vacation destination. The judges of the Koh Samui Provincial Court [official website] disagreed, stating that the evidence was competent and conforms to international standards. AI now calls for the Thai police to prove the voluntariness of the confessions, stating,

[t]he Thai police force has a long and disturbing track record of using torture and other forms of ill-treatment to extract ‘confessions.’ This is far from an isolated case; the Thai authorities must start taking concrete steps to stamp out torture , not just paying lip service to doing so. We hope that the Thai authorities will ensure the truth in a retrial that respects international human rights law and standards, so that the families of Hannah Witheridge and David Miller get the justice and peace of mind they deserve.

In its own investigation, the Thai National Human Rights Commission [official website] found the defendants’ allegations of torture to be credible.

Human rights groups worldwide have expressed growing concern over Thailand’s governmental impunity since it became a military junta in May 2014. Last month, Human Rights Watch said that a proposed provision [JURIST report] in Thailand’s constitution would permit the nation’s military to commit human rights abuses without fear of punishment in violation of international treaties. A new constitutional provision before Thailand’s legislative body, known as the National Council for Peace and Order, would exculpate the use of force by military personnel if the conduct is “carried out with honest intention” in the interest of national security. Earlier that month, the UN Human Rights Office for South-East Asia urged Thailand to immediately close [JURIST report] a military detention center in Bangkok where two high-profile inmates died in October.