Thai Foreign Ministry Spokesperson addresses the concerns of Human Rights Watch
With reference to Human Rights Watch (HRW)’s statements dated 20 May 2010 entitled “Thailand: Ensure Rights of Detained Protesters” and dated 24 May 2010 entitled “Thailand: Conduct Independent Inquiry Into Political Violence”, Ms. Vimon Kidchob, Director-General of the Department of Information and Foreign Ministry Spokesperson, issued the following statement.
First and foremost, it should be underlined that the Emergency Decree on Public Administration in Emergency Situation B.E. 2548 (2005) was promulgated in accordance with due process of law to enable the Government to deal with an emergency situation in a more effective, integrated and expeditious manner so as to maintain law and order, while also providing various safeguards necessary to prevent human rights abuses, including the issues raised in HRW’s statements. Such an imperative is recognized in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) under Article 4.1. In addition, Thailand has been transparent about the exercise of its right of derogation under the Covenant in light of the declaration of a severe emergency situation in certain parts of the country, having notified the other States Parties to the ICCPR through the intermediary of the United Nations Secretary General of its invocation of the Emergency Decree.
Second, to ensure that the rights of detained suspects are not disproportionately affected, Section 12 of the Emergency Decree explicitly provides that those detained suspects shall not be treated as an accused person, and shall be detained in a designated place which is not a police station, detention centre, penal institution or prisons. In this regard, as HRW has noted, the competent officials have clearly specified the designated locations to be used for detaining those suspects under the Emergency Decree. Hence, there is no question about any secret detention. In addition, the number of those detained has been made public through the Centre for the Resolution of the Emergency Situation (CRES) and the police.
Third, the Emergency Decree requires that the competent officials first seek court permission before taking suspects into custody or further detaining them. This requirement is more stringent than regular procedures under the Criminal Procedure Code which empowers competent officials to make a 48-hour detention without warrant. Having taken suspects into custody, the competent officials must report such actions to the court, a copy of which would be kept as record at the office of the competent officials. Moreover, the suspects shall be afforded just and appropriate treatment and their fundamental human rights fully respected in accordance with the Thai Constitution and within the perimeters under the ICCPR. In addition, under the Emergency Decree, relatives of suspects and lawyers may visit these suspects. All these should negate any risk of disappearances.
Furthermore, the custody period of the detainees under the Emergency Decree is limited to a maximum of thirty days, during which a court approved extension is required for every seven-day period. Upon the expiration of the thirty-day period, if further detention is still required, the competent officials must act in accordance with the regular procedures as provided under the Criminal Procedure Code.
Fourth, there is no blanket immunity provided to security officers under the Emergency Decree. According to Section 17 of the Decree, a competent official remains fully accountable for any acts which are discriminatory, unreasonable, exceed the extent of necessity or are performed without good faith. Suspects also retain the right to seek compensation from the government under the Tortious Liability of Officials Act B.E. 2539 (1996). With this, the risk of human rights abuses is minimised.
Last but not least, as a matter of principle, the Government is open to scrutiny and stands ready to be accountable in accordance with the law. In addition to investigation by the authorities led by the Department of Special Investigation (DSI) and the fact-finding committee established regarding the various incidents that have taken place, Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva has stressed as one element of his five-point reconciliation plan the need to ascertain what had actually transpired during the violent incidents, which has caused apprehension among the public and could deepen the division and hatred within society, regarding this as necessary for all concerned in these incidents as well as the society as a whole. In this regard, an independent commission is in the process of being established. The Prime Minister has also publicly reiterated, on a number of occasions, his commitment to the conducting of independent investigations into all crimes committed since the protests began. At the same time, the Government stands ready to cooperate with inquiries by independent agencies such as the National Human Rights Commission and to be subject to parliamentary scrutiny.
For further information, please contact the Press Division, Department of Information, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Tel.02-6435170, Fax.02-6435169, E-mail: email@example.com