AHRC on arbitrary detention

31 08 2010

The Asian Legal Resource Centre (ALRC) has submitted a written statement on Arbitrary detention and harassment under the Emergency Decree in Thailand to the UN’s Human Rights Council, at its 15th session. ALRC is a non-governmental organization with general consultative status to the HRC.

The statement is rather long and worth reading in full. Amongst other things, it states:

Three months after the cessation of open violence, the Emergency Decree remains in place and the denial of liberty and abuse of state power in Thailand has expanded. This has been explicitly present in the use of arbitrary detention and harassment of antigovernment protestors during June-August 2010.

The ALRC illustrates its concerns by explaining “one recent case of arbitrary detention and one of harassment of a minor under the Emergency Decree. In both cases the individuals in question have been charged with violating sections 9(1)(2) of the Emergency Decree, which prohibits gatherings of groups of five people or more, instigating unrest, disseminating information which might scare the public, or intentionally distorting information to create misunderstanding about the state of emergency to a degree that affects national security, public order or public morals.” The cases are those of Sombat Boonngammanong and the other is of the students from Chiang Rai. See the details at the ALRC report.

The statement concludes:

The government of Thailand claims to be complying with the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights in its application of the Emergency Decree. However, the government’s rationale for the imposition of the state of emergency does not meet the minimum requirement of the Covenant….

In a more ominous way, the ALRC observes:

The Asian Legal Resource Centre is concerned that the use of the Emergency Decree to arbitrarily detain, interrogate, and harass civilians who have carried out peaceful protests mourning the loss of life signals the expansion of the temporary state of emergency to a more entrenched, potentially unending state of emergency.

PPT agrees. As we have pointed out for some time, the trajectory of the Abhisit Vejjajiva regime is to authoritarian rule.

In its final paragraphs, the ALRC calls on the HRC to “condemn the continued application of the Emergency Decree as a breach of the State party’s obligations under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and as a cause for further violations of rights under international law.” It also called for detainees to have access to lawyers and family visits. Additionally it says that “international monitors, including the International Committee of the Red Cross” be permitted to see the detainees.

Finally, in its most controversial demand, the ALRC wants the Thai government to “extend an invitation to the Special Rapporteur on the situation of extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions for a formal visit to the country that would include an investigation of the recent killings in Bangkok.”

The ALRC therefore calls upon the Human Rights Council to condemn the continued application of the Emergency Decree as a breach of the State party’s obligations under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and as a cause for further violations of rights under international law. It also calls for the Council to urge that the government of Thailand provide full access not only to family members and lawyers of persons detained in connection with the recent political unrest in the country, irrespective of whether they be detained under the Emergency Decree or under ordinary criminal law, but also to international monitors, including the International Committee of the Red Cross.

Finally, the government of Thailand must extend an invitation to the Special Rapporteur on the situation of extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions for a formal visit to the country that would include an investigation of the recent killings in Bangkok. Successive administrations in Thailand have assiduously ignored the standing request for a visit that the rapporteur first made after the deaths in custody of 78 men in army trucks in the south of the country in 2004–for which no one was ever punished–and the persistent failure of the government to respect the rapporteur’s request speaks to the lack of seriousness with which it appears to treat its obligations under the ICCPR.


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