[JURIST] Human Rights Watch (HRW) [advocacy website] and several other rights groups on Tuesday urged [press release] Thailand to repeal an order granting sweeping police powers to the military, expressing concern that it will worsen human rights conditions. The law [JURIST report] grants broad powers to “prevent and suppress 27 categories of crimes including against public peace, liberty and reputation, immigration, human trafficking, narcotics, and weapons.” The law allows those acting under it to escape prosecution and grants broad discretionary power to officers who may possess low levels of training. The president of the International Federation for Human Rights (FDIH) [advocacy website], Karim Lahidji, cautioned that although the law purports “to suppress criminal activities” it “is likely to result in the commission of very serious crimes that are prohibited under human rights instruments that Thailand has either signed or ratified.”
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 to 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.