Amnesty International (AI) [advocacy website] on Wednesday released a report [text] detailing the prevalence of torture employed by Thai authorities and claiming the military government has led to a “culture of torture” [AI report]. “Make Him Speak by Tomorrow,” named after an apparently common order given to soldiers, is the product of a two-year investigation and details 74 cases of torture or other forms of ill-treatment implemented by Thai authorities. Although Thailand is a party to the UN Convention against Torture [text], there are reportedly many aspects of the legal system that allow or incentivize the use of torture. Thailand is currently working on legislation that would criminalize torture, but AI’s report also provides suggestions for how the government can resolve the major issues.
These include ending unaccountable detention, criminalizing torture, banning the use of “evidence” obtained by torture and other ill-treatment, investigating reports of torture and bringing those responsible to justice, creating an independent monitoring body to carry out oversight of detention facilities, and providing remedies to victims.
The report was set to be launched at a press conference in Bangkok on Wednesday, but Thai authorities threatened AI representatives [AI report] with arrest and prosecution if they went forward, prompting them to cancel the event.
Thailand has been home to significant human rights concerns for years, some of which stem from the nation’s court system. In particular, human rights groups worldwide have expressed growing concern over violations in Thailand since the military junta came to power in May 2014. Earlier in September Thailand’s military government announced [JURIST report] that it will prosecute cases concerning national security and “royal insult” in civilian courts, as opposed to military courts where the cases have been tried since 2014. Also in September the Thailand Supreme Court affirmed [JURIST report] a 20-year prison sentence given to protest leader Sondhi Limthongkul in 2012. Last month Thailand passed a new constitution [JURIST report] by referendum vote. The constitution was drafted by a military-appointed counsel and is feared to be another step in entrenching military control of the nation. Thai military officials in July charged [JURIST report] three human rights defenders with criminal defamation and violations of the Computer Crimes Act because of a report they published detailing acts of torture in Thailand. In April Human Rights Watch urged [JURIST report] Thailand to stop harassing and charging human right lawyers for defending victims of the government’s abuses, and to revoke military police powers.