26 June 2019: The UN Supporting Day for Torture victims
“Safeguards against torture”
Between 17-20 June 2019, the Association for the Prevention of Torture (APT) – a non-governmental organization (NGO) based in Geneva that works globally to prevent torture and other ill-treatment – presented its findings from a year of study on the state of torture and ill treatment in Thailand. This is part of what will be a three-year national project aimed at improving the implementation of safeguards to prevent torture during police or military custody. The APT along with the Cross-Cultural Foundation (CrCF) presented their findings and upcoming projects to diplomats from a number of embassies and engaged in a subsequent dialogue to discuss next steps in implementing safeguards against torture. In particular, the Discussion on 18 June from 9.00-11.00 at Swiss Embassy residence joined with Prof. Narong Jaihan, a Law professor from Thammasat university who is a chairperson of Sub-committee on Torture preventive measure under Ministry of Justice.
The APT and CrCF, among other NGOs, engaged in a vital knowledge exchange, sharing their particular experiences and expertise to provide all parties with a more holistic understanding on the state of the law and police tactics as it relates to torture and ill treatment. The APT’s focus groups with military and police forces and CrCF’s work with detainees and former detainees shed light on the attitudes of officials and citizens towards existing interrogation methods. While a great deal of work is needed to combat the use of torture and ill treatment in Thailand, this particular series of meetings culminated in concrete changes that are urgently needed.
Despite the fact that the current criminal law in Thailand does not criminalize cruel or inhumane treatment as it stands, the Criminal Procedure Code of Thailand does incorporate important legal rights for detainees. In particular, the Code grants an arrested person or alleged offender access to a lawyer, visits with family, and medical treatment. However, APT notes that while these rights are enshrined in Thai law, they are often disregarded in practice. This issue is compounded by the fact that existing special security laws grant authorities the discretion to suspend these rights. These gaps in the law and the exceptions to the law facilitate the use of torture and ill treatment by officials by depriving detainees of essential safeguards. It has created an atmosphere in which detainees are unaware of their legal rights and unable to notify their families of their detention. In the absence of these safeguards, it becomes virtually impossible to prevent torture from being used as there are no lawyers and family members aware or present to hold the perpetrators to account.
As such, a key recommendation is to improve public awareness of the importance of these safeguards and practical tools for those belonging to vulnerable or marginalized groups who may face detention. Scan this QR code or visit this website to know your rights. The practical tools in Thai is available at https://bit.ly/2WW6wJC and also at QR code at