Press briefing conference with the ISOC 7th March 2017
The Internal Security Operations Command (ISOC) withdrew criminal defamation complaint against the three human rights defenders
Bangkok- On Tuesday 7th March 2017, the Internal Security Operations Command (ISOC) withdrew the defamation complaint against the three human rights defenders, Somchai Homlaor, Pornpen Khongkachonkiet and Anchana Heemmina, for publishing the report on the torture in the deep south of Thailand, without any conditions.
The report titled “Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment in the Deep South Documented in 2014-2015” was conducted by Cross Cultural Foundation and Duay Jai Group to document torture allegations during the custody and interrogation of the 54 suspects in the three southernmost provinces of Thailand. The report was made under the project funded by the United Nations Voluntary Fund for Victims of Torture for the provision of mental health and medical assistance to victims of torture. On 8thJune 2016, the three human rights defenders were informed of a complaint filed against them by the ISOC Region 4 for publicizing false information under the Penal Code and the Computer Crimes Act. In view of the defent lawyers, the ISOC Region 4 is a unit of the Royal Thai Army operating in the Southern Border Provinces (SPB), thus it should not have standing to take the legal action against the three human rights defenders.
Since the prosecution against the three human rights defenders, there had been a great number of actions and initiatives from both national and international community calling for the Thai government to drop the charges without any conditions. We reiterate that such actions as torture and ill treatment should not have been conducted in the first place as the duty of the state is to protect and promote the people’s human rights. Furthermore, the Thai government should comply with the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment and Punishment (CAT), which Thailand is a state party of, and ensure that nobody is subjected to any act of torture or ill treatment.
Apart from the announcement at the press briefing conference about dropping defamation lawsuit against the three human rights defenders today, the three human rights defenders, along with representatives of the ISOC Region 4, Cross Cultural Foundation, Ministry of Justice, and observers of the OHCHR for Thailand and South-East Asia have discussed future collaboration. There were many initiatives presented by all parties to protect the victims of torture and the effected. The three human rights defenders reaffirmed that the information provided in the report shall not to be used by anyone for political purposes as the ISOC concerned. Further, they demanded a more thorough investigation into all 54 cases in order to conduct legal actions against the guilty, and to provide rehabilitation to the victim. Thus, proposals on a prompt and impartial collaboration between both parties in the future were as the following:
The appointment of an independent body to investigate torture allegations of 54 cases documented in the report.
To set up mechanism for collaboration between civil society and government in preventing human rights violation in the deep south of Thailand. This includes a review of the current anti-torture legislations and rules.
Future report of torture allegations shall be discussed and examined by relevant sectors and including their views and findings in the report before the publication.
Details on how this collaboration shall be pursued will be further discussed in the nearest future. On behalf of the Thai human rights defenders, we wish to reiterate that NGOs have a significant role in speaking for those affected by the unfairness. We do not have the power to conduct an investigation nor an interrogation; therefore we want to be the communicator and to speak for the victims of human rights violation.