Stop assaulting opponents!

4 06 2019

Thai Lawyers for Human Rights is a co-signatory to a statement decrying the increasing use of thuggish violence against political opponents of the military junta. Other signatories are the Cross Cultural Foundation, Center for Protection and Revival of Local Community Rights, Community Resource Centre Foundation, Human Rights Lawyers Association, Enlaw Thai Foundation, and Union Civil for Liberty.

Read this important statement here or here.





Abuse of power over many decades

15 12 2018

A couple of days ago, The Nation reported that the  National Human Rights Commission Chair What Tingsamitr, recalling that Thailand had been one of the first nations to ratify the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, continues to have a serious human rights  problem.

While What mentioned several groups “responsible” for for human rights abuses, this was a remarkable effort to deflect attention from the main perpetrators. In fact, What had to admit that “state officials commit 90 per cent of human rights violations…”.

What appeared to want to whitewash this basic fact, babbling about “misunderstandings” and “different definitions” of human rights.

However, “Cross Cultural Foundation director Pornpen Khongkachonkiet argued that the root of the problem did not lie in misunderstandings, but came from the abuse of power and an absence of the rule of law.”

Pornpen got to the point that What preferred to avoid:

It is clear that most of the rights violations in Thailand occur in the same pattern – officials violating the rights of people. We have witnessed that again and again. When someone opposes the government and their policies, state officials turn on these people….

She cited several examples of oppression under the current military junta, noting that “rights violations against those who oppose the authorities are far more severe in cases related to the stability of the state and the monarchy.”

Pornpen observed that “key problems include a lack of proper investigation, court litigation and punishment against officers who commit these crimes.” That is, impunity, adding that violations and impunity are abetted by “a partisan culture within the justice system, which allows so many offending officers to walk free and even keep their job in official agencies.”

This situation has existed for decades. However, under the junta, Pornpen concluded, “the problem of human rights violation by the state … is worse than ever…”.





Military must end judicial harassment of human rights defenders

26 07 2016

Torture, intimidation, repression and oppression are the stock-in-trade of the military in Thailand, under all regime types. As we often do, we reproduce an urgent appeal from the Cross Cultural Foundation, forwarded by the Asian Human Rights Commission.

ASIAN HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION – URGENT APPEALS PROGRAMME

Urgent Appeal Case: AHRC-FUA-006-2016

25 July 2016

THAILAND: Military must end judicial harassment of human rights defenders

ISSUES: Human rights defenders; Military; Rule of law; Threats and intimidation; Torture

Dear Friends,

The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) wishes to forward an appeal from the Cross Cultural Foundation (CrCF) regarding the three human rights defenders who are to meet with an inquiry official at the Muang Pattani Police Station on July 26 in the defamation case filed against them by the ISOC Region 4 Forward as a result of their launching a torture report about the Deep South.

For more information, please contact:
1. Mr. Abdulawae Puteh +66 81 898 7408 Attorney of the three alleged offenders
2. Mr. Preeda Nakphew +66 89 622 2474 CrCF’s attorney
3. Ms. Nutthasiri Bergman +66 85 12 08077 CrCF’s attorney

Thank you.

Urgent Appeals Desk
Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC)
—————————— —————————— ———–
THAILAND: Military must end judicial harassment of human rights defenders

On 17 May 2016, the Internal Security Operations Command Region 4 (ISOC 4) has reported a case with the inquiry official at the Muang Pattani Police Station alleging that Mr. Somchai Homlaor, Ms. Pornpen Khongkachonkiet and Ms. Anchana Heemmina, three human rights defenders, had committed criminal defamation and a violation of the 2007 Computer Crimes Act.

The three rights defenders were accused of publishing and distributing a report on the torture and ill, degrading and inhumane treatment in the Deep South between 2014 and 2015 and for bringing into the computer system false information via the website https://voicefromthais. wordpress.com/. The summons were issued for them since 8 June 2016, and they were supposed to turn themselves in on 26 June 2016, though they had asked to postpone it to 26 July 2016.

On 26 July 2016, the three defenders will meet Pol Lt Col Winyou Thiamrat, inquiry official of the Muang Pattani Police Station to hear the charges against them and carry with their defence later on.

The report “Torture and ill treatment in The Deep South Documented in 2014-2015” was an attempt to echo the situation in the local area and by doing so, the three HRDs hope it will help to solve the problem of torture in the Deep South. Since the start of unrest, a range of special laws have been enforced including Martial Law and the Emergency Decree on Government Administration in States of Emergency B.E. 2548 (2005) to bestow on the authorities extra power to carry out the arrest and detention of people. Even though it aims to quell insurgency, but undeniably, it has also led to the situation in which some officials have executed their power arbitrarily giving rise to the acts of torture and/or violations of rights and liberties in various forms. The facts are attested to be incidences of tortures committed by state officials as reported now and then including some suspects in security related cases have been found dead while in military custody or other official custody. If the problem fails to be tackled, it will simply ramp up more violence in the Deep South.

This case has attracted extensive attention from national and international rights organizations since the three activists have been playing important roles in the protection of human rights in the Deep South for a long time. Still, they are being taken to court by the authorities. It will also be another test of the Thai judicial system as to how much understanding they have toward the roles of HRDs and the issue of torture in Thailand.

Thank you.

Urgent Appeals Programme
Asian Human Rights Commission (ua@ahrc.asia)





A PPT catch-up on Juntaland

7 04 2016

Having spent a considerable time putting together our Panama papers II post, we fell behind on other useful reports that have come out in recent days. Here’s a brief round-up:

Thai politics sink into vicious circle, from NewEurope. It begins: “Even though a new constitution is on the way in Thailand, it doesn’t seem this process will bring more democracy. On the contrary, the country is further sinking into its political vicious circle of instability.” It also cites Eugénie Mérieau, speaking at the hearing on the political crisis in Thailand at the French senate on 5 April.

Press Release from the Cross Cultural Foundation, Order bestowing sweeping powers and impunity to military breaches rule of law and human rights. Notes the allocation of police powers to the military and the threat to human rights and law. It ends: “The Cross Cultural Foundation (CrCF) urges the Head of the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO), Gen. Prayuth Chan-ocha, to review and revoke the order to uphold the rule of law and human rights safeguard, particularly the right to justice process which is fundamental and indispensable for the restoration of democracy in Thailand.” Not much chance of that.

On the same topic, Asia Sentinel has the report, Thai Junta Turns Law Enforcement Over to Soldiers. It concludes: “The plan for continuing dictatorship is becoming clear, with military officers taking effective control of the criminal investigations, and assuming the powers of the police…. This is a new threshold, a whole new low on human rights in Thailand, that shows the NCPO is entrenching itself for the long term. What’s telling is that the NCPO’s list of ‘influential persons’ is not about so-called mafia only, but includes community leaders and activists who are being targeted by the military for standing up for their rights.”

Nirmal Ghosh at The Straits Times writes Thai military’s grand design in politics. It begins with a comparison with Myanmar: “The shadow of the army in Myanmar is a long one, but, over the past five years, it has shrunk. Next door in Thailand, though, the shadow of the Royal Thai Army is lengthening.” Much of the op-ed is in line with things PPT has been saying for some time: “It is obvious that the military’s grand design is to weaken political parties in order to have easily disposable coalition governments. The military will remain the real power whatever the outcome of the referendum and the election.” He quotes Thongchai Winichakul.

Pravit Rojanaphruk has an op-ed at The Guardian: Thailand is turning into Juntaland – and we are resisting. He begins: “Deep down, Thailand’s military junta leaders are probably aware that they are illegitimate. They’ve become increasingly paranoid and repressive in their crackdown against any form of resistance – both online and offline.” It ends: “Deep down, the junta knows that its power rests not on legitimacy but on the barrel of guns and the threat of arbitrary detention that is increasingly turning Thailand to Juntaland.”





The military boot and the middle class I

22 03 2016

The military dictatorship is continuing to expand its repression to the middle class, the broad class that joined with the Sino-Thai tycoons in bringing the junta to power.

Prachatai reports that “[l]awyers, academics, and civil society groups” are aghast that the military junta has directly intervened “in an election of the Lawyers Council of Thailand…”.

PPT is aware how much the junta’s rather dull leaders hate elections, but an intervention in an election of a relatively small association seems rather more dopey and hamfisted than is usual for the military brass.

Those on the receiving end of this bit of junta repression make the point that the “junta has no legitimacy to do so [intervene].” They seem to have forgotten that their previous support for anti-democrats means that the junta does not need legitimacy for repression.

In any case, the “Human Rights Lawyers Association (HRLA), Cross Cultural Foundation (CrCF), ENLAWTHAI Foundation, Union for Civil Liberty (UCL) and 66 other lawyers and law academics on Monday, 21 March 2016, issued a joint statement to condemn the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) for ordering a halt to the election of the Lawyers Council under the Royal Patronage…”. We suppose they are making a point by including the last phrase.

The junta issued an order on 16 March issued to “halt the upcoming election of the council’s president and committee for 2016-2019.” The reason cited is, as you’d expect from these lumbering dopes, is plainly stupid: “In a letter sent to the Lawyers Council by the NCPO last week, Gen Chalermchai Sitthisat, Deputy Secretary-General of the NCPO, reasoned that the Lawyers Council has many members and that the election of the Council might be deemed a violation of NCPO Announcement No. 7/2014 which bans a political gathering of five or more persons.”

The order means that “the current president and committee of the Lawyers Council shall serve as an acting committee for the time being.” We suspect that the current leadership better suits the junta.

The gradually expanding repression of middle class is a feature of previous regimes, and it remains to be seen if this class’s anti-democratic stance holds in the face of its own repression or whether, as in 1992, it finds the military boot on its neck too restrictive.





Threatening on torture

12 02 2016

We reproduce this statement from the Asian Human Rights Commission. The ISOC statement , with a link at the end of the document is well wroth reading for more reinforcement of the nature of the military regime and the lies it propagates:

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
AHRC-STM-019-2016
12 February 2016

A Statement by the

THAILAND: Rights defenders threatened for documenting army torture

On 11 February 2016 the Thai army threatened human rights defenders for documenting the military’s continued use of torture on detainees in the country’s south. Major General Banpot Poonpien, the spokesperson for a specialist counterinsurgency agency, the Internal Security Operations Command (ISOC), accused the human rights groups of fabricating accounts of torture to obtain funding from abroad. He also asked whether or not the groups had the mandate to investigate the work of state officers. He ended with the threat that they could be committing defamation by issuing a report referring to international law.

The army statement followed the release of a 49-page report by three local groups, the Cross Cultural Foundation, Duayjai and Patani Human Rights Organisation, documenting 54 cases of torture in the south of Thailand, 32 of them in 2014 and 2015 alone. The methods of torture documented include beatings, strangulation, mock execution, crushing of body parts (including the head), drowning, stress positions, electric shocks, sexual assault, extended confinement in extremely cold rooms or in the sun, and use of loud noises and other methods to disturb the detainee and prevent sleep. The torture was conducted inside major army camps and facilities in the south as well as at the emplacements of special force units throughout the region, including at the compounds of Buddhist temples where soldiers are situated.

Given the intense militarisation and intimidation of the populace in the south of Thailand, this number of cases is likely only a small fraction of the total number of torture cases in the south; to say nothing of Thailand as a whole. Documentation of torture and support for survivors in the south is especially difficult, and the work of these groups has been conducted in recent years with special caution and in accordance with international standards set down by the Istanbul Protocol. It also has been supported in part by the United Nations Voluntary Fund for Victims of Torture. In addition to documenting and advocating on the incidence of torture, presently the groups are aiming to raise funds for the establishment of centres to provide comprehensive support to survivors: something that the government of Thailand has manifestly failed to do.

The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) congratulates and commends these groups for their work on this report and with survivors of torture in the south of Thailand. It denounces the response of ISOC to the report. The allegation that the groups might have fabricated the report’s contents to attract funding is laughable. It would be funny but for the fact that the army in Thailand, which today has the dubious distinction of being the only country in Southeast Asia ruled outright by a military dictatorship, has the capacity to make good on outlandish threats of exactly this sort.

The most telling aspect of the army’s response to the report is not the manner in which denials of wrongdoing were issued but rather Major General Banpot’s rhetorical question of under what mandate—by what power and with what responsibility—the human rights groups scrutinized the work of state officers. This response reveals that the Thai army’s mentality remains “nobody has a right to investigate us”. It is indicative of the attitude that the army has and will continue to enjoy impunity for its crimes committed against civilians. This attitude is one of the motivations for the army to intervene repeatedly to impede, obstruct and destroy the prospects for democratization in Thailand. After all, it is a condition of democratization that military personnel must be subject to scrutiny and oversight by civilians. This condition is one that the Thai army cannot and will not tolerate, as shown clearly by the response of Major General Banpot to the human rights defenders’ report, as well as by its continued use of torture with impunity as documented in the report.

The AHRC urges all concerned groups in Thailand and abroad to join in solidarity with these rights defenders and send a clear and loud message to the Thai army that its bullying tactics will not be tolerated. The threat by ISOC to the human rights defenders deserves the strongest condemnation from all concerned members of the international community, especially all United Nations procedures concerned with the elimination of torture. That the invocation of international law by human rights groups should by construed as constituting some kind of defamation against the Thai army is not only nonsense, it is dangerous nonsense. The whole premise of international law is that where domestic law is lacking or deficient, it serves precisely the role that the human rights defenders in Thailand have assigned to it. The implication of the army officer’s statement is that the entire international legal regime lacks legitimacy in the eyes of the Thai military.

In this regard, it is notable that Thailand has already joined the UN Convention against Torture but has failed in its responsibility to translate the standards of international law into domestic equivalents, as required by the Convention. Thus, if Major General Banpot or his counterparts seek to criticize anyone in this regard, the Asian Human Rights Commission recommends that they turn their attention to the failures of their own government to fulfil its obligations under international standards to which it has voluntarily subscribed. They should cease laying the blame for the human rights abuses of the Thai military on those persons who do no more than document them, and seek to support the survivors of torture, arbitrary detention and other crimes under international law.

(The full text of the statement by ISOC is available here.)

(The full report on “Torture and Ill-Treatment in the Deep South” is available here.)





Judicial harassment

17 09 2014

PPT received the following urgent appeal from the AHRC. It refers to Pornpen Khongkachonkiet and Somchai Homlaor of the Cross Cultural Foundation. Somchai is well known as a former member of the Abhisit Vejjajiva regime’s Truth for Reconciliation Commission.

ASIAN HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION – URGENT APPEALS PROGRAMME

Urgent Appeal Case: AHRC-UAC-133-2014

17 September 2014

THAILAND: End judicial harassment of human rights defenders

ISSUES: Torture; human rights defenders; military; threats and intimidation; rule of law
———————————————————————

Dear friends,

The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) has learned that the judicial harassment of Pornpen Khongkachonkiet and Somchai Homlaor, long-standing and prominent human rights defenders and director and chairperson, respectively, of the Cross Cultural Foundation (CrCF) in Thailand, is ongoing. They have been accused of defaming the army and face potential legal prosecution for their work documenting instances of torture and advocating on behalf of victims.

CASE NARRATIVE: As we described in an earlier statement (AHRC-STM-164-2014), on 24 August 2014, Pornpen Khongkachonkiet and Somchai Homlaor, long-time human rights defenders and director and chairperson, respectively, of the Cross Cultural Foundation (CrCF), received warrants summoning them to report to the Yala police by 25 August 2014. Initially, Pornpen and Somchai postponed their reporting to the Tatong police station in Raman district in Yala province until 10 am on 14 September. On 10 September, this was postponed indefinitely at the request of the police investigator. The warrants are in relation to an investigation carried out pursuant to a legal complaint of libel and defamation filed against them by Paramilitary Unit 41. The complaint accuses CrCF of causing damage to the reputation of the Army by disseminating an open letter about a case of torture carried out in southern Thailand.

CrCF was established in 2002 to work on justice and the protection, promotion and monitoring of human rights in Thailand. CrCF’s philosophy and activities are focused on strengthening human rights and delivering sustainable judicial reform throughout society, both top-down and bottom-up. CrCF has a long, well-respected track record of supporting marginalised people such as ethnic minority groups, stateless people, migrant workers and victims of conflict in their struggles for accountability in cases of torture, enforced disappearance, and other human rights violations. Since the declaration of martial law in southern Thailand in January 2004, CrCF has been at the forefront of documenting and calling for justice in cases of torture, enforced disappearance, extrajudicial killing, and other human rights violations. The work of the organization, and especially the work carried out by Pornpen Khongkachonkiet, is in the service of education citizens about their rights, recording rights violations, and pushing for accountability and redress. As part of this work, they routinely document cases and aid victims in filing both formal complaints and disseminating this information to the public via the media. In this case, the complaint was filed by Paramilitary Unit 41 after an open letter which detailed a case of torture of a young man in Yala circulated in public (Some of the details of the open letter were published online by Isra News Agency here). The Army has claimed that the young man was not tortured, and so therefore the open letter constitutes libel and defamation. In response, on 8th May 2014, the ISOC, the Royal Thai Police, and others – including doctors, examined the victim of the alleged assault, and produced a press release stating that an investigation had been carried out which had found that the allegation of assault was untrue. The press release went on to say that CRCF should be held responsible for intentionally distorting the truth and spreading false statements to the public.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION:

The judicial harassment of Pornpen Khongkachonkiet is part of a broader pattern of harassment and legal proceedings carried out against those who expose torture, call for accountability and defend human rights in Thailand. The Government of Thailand acceded to the Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Degrading or Inhuman Treatment (CAT) on 2 October 2007. As a state party to the CAT, Thailand is obligated to take action to prevent torture, hold perpetrators to account, and provide redress and protection to victims of torture. The AHRC has noted that this is not always the case, such as in the criminal prosecution of Suderueman Maleh, a survivor of torture in southern Thailand, who was sentenced to two years in prison in 2011 after he brought a torture complaint against a police officer who was later cleared of responsibility (AHRC-STM-103-2011). Similarly, when Kritsuda Khunasen, who was arbitrarily detained for nearly a month following the 22 May 2014 coup by the National Council for Peace and Order, released two video interviews detailed her torture and abuse while in military custody, the junta’s response was to threaten and discredit her (AHRC-STM-151-2014). The appropriate response in all of these cases would be for the military and government to initiate independent investigations into torture.

SUGGESTED ACTION: Please write letters to the authorities below, asking them to immediately cease the judicial harassment and end any ongoing investigation of Pornpen Khongkachonkiet and Somchai Homlaor for their work defending human rights.

Please note that the Asian Human Rights Commission is writing a separate letter to the UN Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights seeking his urgent intervention into this matter.





The truth is full of prejudice

10 09 2014

Readers will recall when junta goons prevented a discussion of human rights at the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Thailand. The action of these thugs gained considerable noteriety and a lot of criticism.

A few days ago, just as Khaosod went missing for a few days until we found it via the excellent work of a reader, it reported further on this story that deserves attention.

The military dolts decided to explain why it was that they closed down such a seemingly innocuous event. Junta mouthpiece Colonel Winthai Suvaree “explained”: “We had to be careful about the discussion topic, to make sure that it would not [defame] other individuals or organisations…. The discussion could have lacked sufficient facts or contained unreliable information not supported by clear evidence.” He added: “That information may have also only presented a one-sided perspective full of prejudice. It may have caused misunderstanding in society about certain individuals or organisations.”

In fact, the Lawyers were to present a truthful and evidence-based account. The military dictatorships hates that; the truth is dangerous!

Winthai complained that the talk was to “feature representatives from Amnesty International Thailand, the Thai Lawyers for Human Rights, and Cross Cultural Foundation on 2 September.” That is a dangersous and threatening lot! The military, despite all of its guns and repressive powers fears truth and openness.

It seems they also fear “politics”: “We were concerned that the activity may involve politics. Relevant officials had to carefully consider it…”. Politics is banned under the military junta that it finds unacceptable to full happiness, at least at military headquarters.

The military junta is usually considered to be filled with tough guys. When faced with the truth or opposition, they panic; a sign of deep weakness.





Intimidation of lawyers and human rights organizations

5 09 2014

Forwarded by the  Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC):

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
AHRC-FST-066-2014
September 3, 2014

THAILAND: Intimidation of lawyers and human rights organizations

A Statement from Thai Lawyers for Human Rights forwarded by the Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC)

The Thai Lawyers for Human Rights (TLHR) in collaboration with Cross Cultural Foundation (CrCF) and Amnesty International Thailand was planning to organize a presentation of report on the situation of human rights “Access to Justice in Thailand: Currently Unavailable Human Rights Situation 100 Days after the Coup” today. But just yesterday, 1 September 2014, TLHR and other organizing organizations have been contacted and asked my Thailand’s military officials to cancel the event as they claimed the incumbent situation is still abnormal. We were told as well that if we persist to organize the event, we will face charges for violating the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) Announcement no. 7/2557 which prohibits any political assembly of five people upwards. TLHR wants to make our stand clear regarding the behaviour of the Thai authorities as follows:

1. The presentation of report on the situation of human rights “Access to Justice in Thailand: Currently Unavailable Human Rights Situation 100 Days after the Coup” is an attempt to shed light on obstacles to access to justice in the aftermath of the coup in Thailand. It is not a political gathering. TLHR has been established to receive complaints and provide legal aid to detainees, and we are simply performing our duties as lawyers and human rights activists. Given that Martial Law has still been imposed and it provides draconian power to the officials, an effort to monitor the situation and disseminate information to society is therefore indispensable.

2. The right to freedom of expression is a fundamental human right enshrined in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) to which Thailand is a state party and is obliged to observe. After all, NCPO has been telling the press that it respects human rights principles. Also, Section 4 of the 2014 Interim Constitution written by NCPO itself provides for protection of human dignity, rights, liberty and equality of all Thailand people in accordance with the Constitutional practice in the democratic regime of government with the King as Head of the State and any existing international obligations should therefore be respected as per the Constitution. Any attempt to prevent a public event to discuss about human rights from happening is a gross violation of such rights and liberties.

3. Apart from being a direct intimidation to lawyers and rights activists, the attempt by the military authorities to “ask for cooperation” to cancel or postpone the event and the reiteration that if the organizers decide to press ahead with the event, they shall face prosecution for violating the NCPO Announcement which bans any political gathering, will also perpetuate the climate of fear in society and will lead to further infringement of human rights and the chance the affected families shall be accorded with justice and remedies. Such a consequence seems contradictory to the image the NCPO has tried to project by claiming that they have been performing their duties with due respect to human rights. It also highlights the grave human rights situation as of now.

The Thai Lawyers for Human Rights (TLHR) condemns the intimidation by security officials and as an advocate of legal and human rights, we shall persist to uphold our duties as a lawyer to protect the people’s rights and liberties. We shall make an effort to present the report on human rights situation to mark 100 days after the coup via other channels in order to ensure that voices of the people and their families whose human rights have been abused shall continue to be heard and that they shall be bestowed on with truth and justice as well as to uphold people’s rights and liberties in general. TLHR would also insist on proposing the following recommendations as mentioned on our current report on the situation of human rights that:

1. Martial Law which is being imposed countrywide should be revoked.

2. No persons shall be subjected to apprehension, arrest and detention invoking Martial Law.

3. Any restriction to curb the right to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly should be lifted.

4. No civilians should be tried in the military court.

With respect to the people’s rights and liberties

Thai Lawyers for Human Rights (TLHR)

Tel (+66) (0) 96-789-3172,  096-789-3173

e-mail: tlhr2014@gmail.com





AHRC: Army harrasses human rights activist

27 08 2014

When the Army is in control its usual level of impunity is catapulted to arrogant impunity. Military dictatorships like that established by General Prayuth Chan-ocha mean that are lawless. The latest example from Thailand:

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
AHRC-STM-164-2014
August 26, 2014

A Statement by the Asian Human Rights Commission

THAILAND: Human rights defender subjected to judicial harassment

On 24 August 2014, Pornpen Khongkachonkiet, a long-time human rights defender and director of the Cross Cultural Foundation (CrCF), received a warrant summoning her to report to the Yala police station by 25 August 2014. She has postponed her reporting to the Yala police station until later in September. The warrant was in relation to an investigation carried out pursuant to a legal complaint of libel and defamation filed against her by Army Task Force 41. The complaint accuses Pornpen Khongkachonkiet and CrCF of causing damage to the reputation of the Army by disseminating an open letter about a case of torture carried out in southern Thailand. The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) is gravely concerned that Army has responded to the work of CrCF defending human rights by threatening legal proceedings, rather than taking necessary action to end and redress torture. The AHRC views the judicial harassment of Pornpen Khonkhachonkiet as another indication of the downward slide and deepening human rights crisis in Thailand.

Since the declaration of martial law in southern Thailand in January 2004, the Cross Cultural Foundation has been at the forefront of documenting and calling for justice in cases of torture, enforced disappearance, extrajudicial killing, and other human rights violations. The work of the organization, and especially the work carried out by Pornpen Khongkachonkiet, is in the service of education citizens about their rights, recording rights violations, and pushing for accountability and redress. As part of this work, they routinely document cases and aid victims in filing both formal complaints and disseminating this information to the public via the media. In this case, the complaint was filed by Army Task Force 41 after an open letter which detailed a case of torture of a young man in Yala circulated in public (Some of the details of the open letter were published online by Isra News Agency here). The Army has claimed that the young man was not tortured, and so therefore the open letter constitutes libel and defamation.

The judicial harassment of Pornpen Khongkachonkiet is part of a broader pattern of harassment and legal proceedings carried out against those who expose torture, call for accountability and defend human rights in Thailand. The Government of Thailand acceded to the Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Degrading or Inhuman Treatment (CAT) on 2 October 2007. As a state party to the CAT, Thailand is obligated to take action to prevent torture, hold perpetrators to account, and provide redress and protection to victims of torture. The AHRC has noted that this is not always the case, such as in the criminal prosecution of Suderueman Maleh, a survivor of torture in southern Thailand, who was sentenced to two years in prison in 2011 after he brought a torture complaint against a police officer who was later cleared of responsibility (AHRC-STM-103-2011). Similarly, when Kritsuda Khunasen, who was arbitrarily detained for nearly a month following the 22 May 2014 coup by the National Council for Peace and Order, released two video interviews detailed her torture and abuse while in military custody, the junta’s response was to threaten and discredit her (AHRC-STM-151-2014). The appropriate response in all of these cases would be for the military and government to initiate independent investigations into torture.

The Asian Human Rights Commission condemns the judicial harassment of Pornpen Khongkachonkiet and calls for the immediate cessation of the legal proceedings against her. Further, the Asian Human Rights Commission calls on the Thai government to pass the relevant domestic legislation and take action to redress and end torture, in line with its obligations as a state party to the CAT.








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