Torture, enforced disappearance and the junta

20 01 2015

Thaweeporn Kummetha at Prachatai reminds us that torture and enforced disappearances remain almost standard procedure for Thailand’s police and military.

Officials often use a range of torture methods, usually to extract confessions. These include:

strangling hands with rope, choking, face dunking, kicking, punching, beating in the stomach, beating with cloth wrapped wooden bat, head-butting against the wall, and electric shock. Some methods do not leave [a] trace: using a black bag to cover the detainees’ head, detainees are exposed to extremely high or low temperature or light to darkness for extended periods of time, death threats, threats to harm detainees’ family members, forced feeding or injecting substances which leads to loss of consciousness.

Several of these methods may be applied to a single detainee.

A move to change this situation has been talked about for almost a decade. At long last, the Justice Ministry “plans to submit a bill against torture and enforced disappearance early in the year.”

The Justice Ministry’s bill has been cautiously welcomed by “activists working in the field for including all elements possible from international laws.” The bill, if it were to be passed, would “criminalize torture by the Thai authorities. It will also recognize and criminalize enforced disappearance, even without the body of the victim.” The bill proposes penalties include jail for 5 years to life imprisonment.

These are potentially big changes, especially as the current military dictatorship continues to use both torture and enforced disappearance. In this case, the military junta continues long-standing practices.

The article quotes Tyrell Haberkorn, an expert on violence and human rights violations in Thailand from the Australian National University, who explains:

The reason why torture continues is that the perpetrators continue to get away with it. When one police officer or soldier carries out torture and is not held to account (because there are no legal or political structures to do so), his colleagues learn that they too can do so. Impunity is pedagogical….

In addition, these abhorrent practices continue because of “the lack of respect of human dignity and human rights on the part of state officials,” knowing they enjoy impunity.

Worse, the police seem to “believe that torture is an effective method of crime control.”

The question is whether a military dictatorship is prepared to pass a law that will alter its standard practices. Many doubt it.


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4 responses

5 09 2015
Torture, confessions and sentencing | Political Prisoners of Thailand

[…] fact, torture is standard procedure by the military and police under dictatorship or elected […]

5 09 2015
Torture, confessions and sentencing | Political Prisoners in Thailand

[…] fact, torture is standard procedure by the military and police under dictatorship or elected […]

16 09 2015
Nasty, incompetent and rich | Political Prisoners in Thailand

[…] Like the military, the police rely on beatings and torture for “confessions.” Alternatively, they cajole and assure “suspects” that a guilty plea will result in a lighter sentence than if they go to court with a not guilty plea. […]

16 09 2015
Nasty, incompetent and rich | Political Prisoners of Thailand

[…] Like the military, the police rely on beatings and torture for “confessions.” Alternatively, they cajole and assure “suspects” that a guilty plea will result in a lighter sentence than if they go to court with a not guilty plea. […]




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