21 March 2019
Press Release : Investigate alleged torture of a suspected insurgent in military detention and stop the use of special laws to arrest and detained suspects without charge
On 16 March 2019, it was reported that Mr. Masukri Salae, a suspect held in detention at the Ingkhayutthaborihan military camp in Pattani Province’s Nong Chik District, has been severely injured from falling on a bathroom floor inside the camp’s inquiry unit. After the accident, the camp officers brought Mr. Masukri to the Ingkhayutthaborihan Military Camp Hospital for initial treatment. Shortly after, he was transferred to the Pattani Hospital. Later, Sub Lt. Tortrakul Pansamrong, Chief of the Inquiry Unit, Taskforce 43, Ranger Battalion of the Ingkhayutthaborihan Army Camp, has reported the case to Pol. Capt. Wasurat Charoensinjonthan, Deputy Inspector on Investigation of the Nong Chik Police Station. The police had then gone to visit Mr. Masukri at the hospital and affirmed to the media that the suspect had really fallen on the bathroom floor. The police then recorded this incident in their blotter.
Based on our initial fact-finding investigation, Cross Cultural Foundation (CrCF) and our partner organizations found that Mr. Masukri had been detained under the Martial Law since 14 March 2019 after the officers from the 43rd Ranger Regiment have conducted a cordon and search at the house No. 31/2 Moo 7, Tambon Pulo Puyo, Nong Chik district, Pattani Province. He was subsequently brought to the Ingkhayutthaborihan military camp along with three other suspects from the same house for questioning. However he has been released after 7 days detention now he is under medical treatment at a hospital in Pattani.
CrCF has received a complaint claiming that certain officers in charge have failed to act in compliance with the laws and official code of conduct. Allegedly, while Mr. Masukri was held in detention, he was forced to stand still all the time for three days and two nights in a row. He was only allowed to sit when praying and eating. Moreover, he was kicked in his legs and hit in the head repeatedly by a baton wrapped in cloth. Subjected to such ill-treatment combined with sleep deprivation, he began to feel dizzy. Therefore, when he went to the bathroom, he slipped, fell down and passed out. CrCF has also received reports that Mr. Masukri had been forced to provide a fingerprint to certify certain documents while he was extremely exhausted and distracted so much so he could neither read nor certify the documents by signing his name. Such reports have spread far and wide across local communities in the southern border provinces, and they may jeopardize ongoing peacemaking efforts in this region.
Mr. Masukri is only one among over 6,000 individuals held in military detention under the special laws, including the Martial Law Act and the Emergency Decree, since 2004. Such laws authorize military officers to conduct a search and arrest without official warrants. A suspect can also be put in military detention for questioning up to 37 days without being charged.
An act of torture committed by government officers is illegal and violates Thailand’s international legal obligations including the country’s commitments to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and the UN Convention Against Torture (CAT). During the past 15 years, CrCF has received several complaints similar to the case of Mr. Masukri from relatives of the detainees or the detainees themselves. We have also been complaining and proposing to responsible officers and government agencies at the local and national levels and the government, urging them to come up with measures to prevent and address the problem. Still, few solutions have been forthcoming. This is because the government lacks a political will and clear policies and guidelines to work on this issue. It also lacks mechanisms to keep in check the security officers’ treatment of the detainees. In addition, no effort has been made to effectively and efficiently investigate complaints about alleged torture or ill-treatment to solicit a forced confession. CrCF is, therefore, gravely concerned that the deprivation of liberty of suspects invoking special laws can facilitate gross human rights violations against the detainees themselves.
CrCF urges all concerned officers and government agencies, particularly, the Director of the Internal Security Operations Command (ISOC) Region 4 Forward Command, the Provincial Police Chief of Pattani, and the Thai government to do the following;
- Conduct an inquiry into an allegation that Mr. Masukri has been subject to torture while being held in military detention under the Martial Law. An independent inquiry committee should be set up composed of academics, community and religious leaders, and representatives from civil society organizations in order to uncover the truth and make it known to the public.
- If it can be established that the right to bodily integrity and the right to life of Mr. Masukri have been violated, the responsible authorities have to be held accountable and offer compensation and remedies to the injured party to ensure his physical and mental rehabilitation or to restitute such physical and mental capabilities as much as possible. The officers and individuals involved with the commission of the offense have to be brought to justice and disciplined to restore public trust in the officers and the government.
- Clear measures must be meted out to establish mechanisms for the prevention of torture and any acts committed by public officers and the state which are tantamount to the violation of laws and human rights. The authorities must be encouraged to recognize all rights of a person being deprived of liberty per international standards. For example, their relatives must be allowed to visit them while in custody at least 30 minutes at a time and their access to legal counsel of their choice must not be impeded. Independent and outside organizations, particularly the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) and local civil society organizations, must be given the chance to conduct a regular and unannounced inspection of the detention facilities and be able to freely interview the detainees without advance notification. A mechanism has to be established to investigate any claim about torture with participation from all concerned parties.
- The Thai government should promptly ensure the enactment of the law for the prevention and suppression of torture and enforced disappearances in compliance with the treaty to which Thailand is a party and the law has yet to be read by the National Legislative Assembly (NLA). Thailand is urged to act, strictly, effectively and promptly, in compliance with its international obligations for the prevention and suppression of torture.
- CrCF reiterates that the enforcement of specials laws by security officers to conduct a search, arrest, and detention of individuals suspected of being involved with unrest in the Deep South has thus far often been made without checks and balances as far as the rule of law is concerned. It can likely give rise to human rights violations, particularly torture while in custody. Such predicament can only exacerbate the current armed conflict in this region. CrCF, therefore, urges all security agencies to stop invoking special laws when carrying out the arrest and detention of suspects and normal criminal proceedings should be used instead.
For more information, please contact, Cross Cultural Foundation (CrCF), phone 02-1015481