Press Release The UN Committee on the Rights of the Child (CRC) recommended lifting Martial Law and Emergency Decree in non-armed-conflict areas and the application of juvenile criminal procedure with children under the age of 18 years in Thailand’s Southern Border Provinces
Geneva, Switzerland: During 24-25 January 2012, the delegation of Thailand led by Ministry of Social Development and Human Security (MSDHS) attended the treaty body session review country report of Thailand together with representatives from governmental agencies concerning child rights protection and promotion, altogether 30 persons.
Regarding the Optional Protocol on Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict that Thailand is a state party; CRC raised the issue about the recruitment of children under 18 years as part of the Village Defence Volunteers (VDVs) under the charge of Ministry of Interior. Though at present, a directive has been made to ban such recruitment of children under 18 years, concern is still raised regarding if there is any attempt to criminalize the recruitment of children under 18 years into armed units.
Regarding enforcement of Martial Law and Emergency Decree in the Southern Border Provinces, CRC raised its concern about the detention of children under 18 years which has not been subject to judicial review. It has been reported that children under the age of 18 years have been held in custody together with adults in military barracks. Also, since Thailand has informed CRC that the situation in the Southern Border Provinces should be treated as a situation of criminal violence, not an armed conflict, CRC hopes that martial law and Emergency Decree shall be removed from the area and officials shall become more careful in enforcing the special laws in order to enhance the protection of children’s rights. CRC also recommended that juvenile criminal procedure be used with any children under the age of 18 years in the Southern Border Provinces without any exception.
Concurrently, on 25 January 2012, the Cross Cultural Foundation (CrCF), Faculty of Political Science, Prince of Songkhla University, Pattani Campus, Deep South Watch and partner organizations jointly organized a photo exhibition regarding children and youth and public discussions on “The Rights of Children and Youth in Justice Process and the Enforcement of Security Laws”, the lawn in front of Room 500, Building 19, the Prince of Songkhla University, Pattani Campus.
Speakers from agencies in justice process included Judge Nattakorn Yokchuthanachai, the Pattani Juvenile and Family Court and special lecturer at Faculty of Political Science, Prince of Songkhla University, Pattani Campus, Mr. Pridianand Tiyanond, Director of the Pattani Juvenile Observation and Protection Center, Mr. Usaman Masong, Kampong Sunang Project, Foundation for Child Development and a representative from students of the Faculty of Political Science, Prince of Songkhla University, Pattani Campus as well as a representative from the Southern Border Provinces Police Commission Operation Center (SBPPCOC) and Office of Public Prosecutor on cases concerning children and youth in Songkhla.
Judge Nattakorn Yokchuthanachai, the Pattani Juvenile and Family Court, said that the information concerning problems resulting from the enforcement of special laws and faced by children and youth in Thailand’s Southern Border Provinces is not well known, like what is described about in the book “Scars on the Moon”. He seconded the idea to have this kind of discussion organized frequently to explore the necessity of enforcing special laws in the area and its implications. Mr. Pridi-anand Tiyanond placed an emphasis on rehabilitation which should be conducted in light of the analysis of the children’s background, their family and social background. This shall lead to remedies and help with the reintegration of children in their families and society in a sustainable manner. Mr. Usaman Masong, Kampong Senang Project, Foundation for Child Development, said that remedies have not been given equally to all. There are 5,000 deaths resulting from the unrest, and presumably there are at least 5,000 orphans. If they are not provided equally with remedies, it may affect their development.
The book “Scars on the Moon” (Thai version) is collection of feature stories written based on information from a research project jointly conducted by the Foundation of Muslim Attorney Centre (MAC) and the Cross-Cultural Foundation (CrCF). It was an attempt to explore criminal procedure applied to children and youth implicated in security justice process. Priced at 150 baht per copy, the book is available in general bookstores. Not-for-profits organizations may request for a free copy of the book by mail by sending an email to email@example.com. An electronic version of the book is also available at www.deepsouthwatch.org.
For more information, please contact Pornpen Khongkachonkiet, phone 02-6934939