Call for Independent Committee to investigate and resolve all cases of targeted killings in the Deep South Bring back transparency of Thai Judicial system for trust building
Mr. Abdulkarim Usoh, aged 42, Imam of Ban Kayee Mosque was shot dead on Friday, 30th January 2009 while he was walking into the mosque to lead the Friday prayers. The incident has created strong vibrations of emotions amongst the local Muslim communities in the Deep South.
Mr. Abdulkarim Usoh had been released from Pattani prison on 30 October 2008, after the Pattani Provincial Court acquitted him of charges relating to possession of illegal war weapons. Before the acquittal, Mr. Usoh spent one year in prison as he was denied bail. The brutally killing in the public such as Mosque on the prayer time shows that the killers have no fear of the law enforcement. Many of the persons who have been killed were under ‘suspicion’ of the authorities. Some had arrest warrants issued against them, while some were rumored to be in ‘black lists’. In 2006, it was reported that out of 15 persons who had been acquitted of all insurgency related charges by the courts, 11 persons had been shot dead. The authorities state that the killings were done by insurgents to silence some of their members, but the local people believe that the law enforcement agencies are responsible for some of the killings. The true facts behind the killings have never been disclosed and this has worked towards increasing the mistrust that the local people have towards the authorities.
As per statistics released by Deep South Watch, during the period January 2007 – December 2008, there were 1,837 violent incidents resulting in 3,933 injuries and 969 deaths. The report shows that 16 deaths were possibly caused by M 16 or AK rifles, 39 deaths were caused by short guns, 53 deaths related to actions of authorities leading to inquest trials, 82 deaths related to incidents of bomb explosions, 18 deaths related to war, 8 deaths were caused by stabbing, the circumstances around 8 deaths could not be identified and 745 deaths were caused by unidentified types of guns.
At present, a system for scientifically investigating all incidents of violence does not exist. Proper examination of forensic evidence relating to explosives and weapons used for shooting is not done. In many cases, proper examination of the body at the scene of crime or post mortem of the bodies is also not carried out. All this affects the investigation of the cases as well as prosecution of the persons suspected for carrying out these crimes.
The victims of such killings have included military officers, police officers, religious leaders, local politicians, informants of security officers, persons detained under special laws as well as persons who have attended re-education training camps conducted by the Army. Cross Cultural Foundation believes that the incidents of killings could become very sensitive and create more disturbances if they are not properly investigated and if the perpetrators are not brought to justice. Cross Cultural Foundation thus would like to recommend the following:
1) Call for Thai Government to set up an independent body to investigate and resolve all cases of killings and bring all perpetrators to justice including state officers if any.
2) Call for National Police Commission and/or Police Regional 9 Forward to disclose the investigation reports relating to the cases of targeted killings in the Deep South and the steps taken to bring the perpetrators before the justice system. Related agencies could use the data to analyze the patterns of killings and use the information while making policies to end the violence
3) Call for Justice Ministry to initiate reform of the primary criminal justice system in the south so as to reduce the conditions that create feelings of mistrust in the local Muslim population. Such initiatives could focus on monitoring and improving the performance of police investigation officers and state prosecutors especially in the area of forensic sciences. A fair and transparent criminal justice system would help to restore trust of the people in the justice system.
4) Public awareness raising program on law and practice related post mortem, inquest trials and autopsy keeping in mind locals religious beliefs and customs so that the criminal justice system can be more effective in bringing the perpetrators to justice.
More information: Access to Justice and Legal Protection Project, Cross Cultural Foundation
Tel. 02-6934939. Please see related news in Thai language: http://www.bungarayanews.com/news.php?id=285