Thailand military granted police powers
Thailand military granted police powers

Thailand’s Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha [BBC profile] on Wednesday granted the military police powers to arrest and detain suspected criminals. The junta leader issued a decree [materials, in Thai] called “Suppression of wrongdoings that could threaten Thai economy and society,” which grants soldiers of a certain rank, in the army, navy and air force, the power to summon and detain suspects for up to seven days. Human rights advocates fear the order will only increase the control [Reuters report] of the military state and threaten human rights. The junta justified the decree by asserting that Thailand lacks the number of police necessary [WSJ report] to combat criminal threats to national security.

Human rights groups worldwide have expressed growing concern over Thailand’s governmental impunity since it became a military junta in May 2014. In January the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein called on the Thai government to fully investigate [JURIST report] the whereabouts of at least 82 people listed as disappeared and criminalize forced disappearance through legislation. That same month, Thailand unveiled a new draft constitution [JURIST report], which human rights groups stated was aimed at increasing the power of the military under the guise of clauses intended to promote national security, permitting the government to commit human rights abuses without fear of punishment in violation of international treaties. In December Amnesty International called for [JURIST 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 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. In November 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.