A little over a week ago, the Bangkok Post reported that a special inquiry unit under Thailand’s Justice Ministry had asked the public prosecutor to lodge charges against six police officers for allegedly torturing a man in their custody.
The police in Ayutthaya, near Bangkok, hooded Ekkawat Srimanta and beat him all over his body to force him to confess to a robbery that he did not commit. Then they repeatedly electrocuted his genitals and groin.
Unlike many victims of police torture in Thailand, Ekkawat survived. And unlike most, he was released shortly afterward and admitted to hospital. The next day, photographs of his damaged body were published in major dailies. Senior officers rushed to his bedside, pretended that they cared if he lived or died, and made phony promises to look into things.
All that was five years ago. What happened since demonstrates the utter failure not only of the government of Thailand but also of its society to come to terms with the blight of torture, or do anything much about it. Continue reading
Posted in censorship, human rights, human rights groups, police, Thailand, torture, UPI
Tagged Ayutthaya, Bangkok Post, CAT, Convention against Torture, Department of Special Investigation, DSI, Ekkawat, Srimanta
(Der Rechtsstaat in Thailand)
The rule of law has been getting talked up in Thailand a lot since the former prime minister’s wife, Pojaman Shinawatra, lost a criminal case before a special bench of the Supreme Court, and her husband skipped both town and bail prior to a hearing against him too.
Amid the many editorials and headlines (Krungthep Turakit above: Thaksin, Pojaman flee), academic Michael Connors suggested that the verdict against Pojaman could bode well for a more robust rule of law. Newspaper columnist Chang Noi was effusive, declaring the verdict “a manifesto on behalf of the law.”
Thaksin even got in on the act himself, describing those pursuing his family through the courts as having “no concern for the legal system … or the universal rule of law” and claiming that he and his family are victims of “continuous injustice.”
While the former policeman’s complaints jar with his track record of getting things done any which way, the cases against him and his family do raise issues about how the rule of law needs to be understood and debated in Asia.
One of the main problems besetting talk about rule of law in the region is that it continues to be dominated by writers and thinkers living elsewhere in the world, where courts, police and administrative offices work more or less as expected.
These persons usually take separated powers, constitutionalism and representative government for granted. Some publish commentaries on high-profile cases that are in fact relevant to the society as a whole, because their law and bureaucracy are relatively coherent and systematic.
Others go into the finer points of whether or not it is possible for judges to consistently and impartially apply law, and whether the rule of law should be governed by morals or procedures.
But little if any of this is relevant to people in most parts of Asia. Continue reading
Posted in army, courts, crime, extrajudicial killing, human rights, military, other countries, police, politics, rule of law, Thailand, torture, UPI
Tagged Amporn Kochabang, Asia, Chang Noi, Charnchai Promthongchai, Department of Special Investigation, DSI, Interior Ministry, Krue Se, Mae Hong Son, Michael Connors, Ministry of Interior, Phra Supoj, Pojaman, Saraburi, Shinawatra, Thaksin, Urai Srineh, Uthai Boonom
Almost a year has passed since the day Burma’s military regime suddenly upped fuel prices without telling anyone, triggering off a series of small protests that led to some bigger ones, and finally, the really big ones that for a few days in September captured the world’s headlines.
No one is any the wiser about the reasons for the price hike, or at least, why it was sprung upon the unsuspected public that particular August morning. Among the theories, a few people caught up in political intrigues have claimed that it was a plan to flush out and grab re-emerging dissidents prior to the referendum on a new Constitution, which was held amid the cyclone ruins in May.
Whether they planned it or not, the authorities did net a large number of opponents in the days, weeks and months after the rallies. Most were kept in illegal custody for further days, weeks and months. Some are still missing, but the cases of many others are now seeping into the courts, and what they reveal is just how far officialdom in Burma has strayed from any notions of legality in dealing with dissent.
Take the case of three men, Kyaw Soe, Kwalpi and Tin Htoo Aung, detained at the end of October. The three were taken to the torture chambers at the central prison, where they were left in the hands of military intelligence officers until the middle of January. Only then were they handed over to the police, whereupon their case was registered in court.
The men were charged with a number of crimes for supposedly having had contact with illegal groups outside the country and having distributed anti-government pamphlets at the time of the protests.
So far there is nothing striking about any of this. Sadly, illegal imprisonment, torture and heavy criminal charges are typical to the cases from last September. What is more interesting is that despite all that, the police had nothing to show for it when they brought the case into the court. Nor did they care. Continue reading
Posted in Burma, courts, dictatorship, human rights, Myanmar, police, protest, rule of law, torture, UPI
Tagged CID, Criminal Investigation Division, Kwalpi, Kyaw Soe, Saffron Revolution, SB, Special Branch, Tin Htoo Aung
The killing of Yapa Koseng in a vehicle parked at an army base in southern Thailand has attracted interest among news media and human rights groups, particularly since a doctor speaking at a postmortem inquest hearing at the end of June indicated that his fatal injuries could have been caused only by savage torture.
However, it was the testimony of another person that day which laid bare the mechanics of the homicide, or how, in the words of a United Nations expert on extrajudicial killings, police and soldiers in Thailand “get away with murder.”
That person was Major Wicha Phuthong, then acting commander of the unit holding Yapa, whom other detainees claim was present during the assault: a claim that the officer has of course denied.
According to Major Wicha, police picked up Yapa together with two of his sons and three other persons “probably” around 3 p.m. on March 19. They were to be held under martial law provisions for up to seven days without being brought to a court. Anticipating their transfer to a neighboring province for further inquiries, Wicha had them kept in the police van that carried them to his unit at Suantham Temple, in Narathiwat.
Yapa didn’t make it through seven days. The 56-year-old died sometime during the night of March 20 or 21, a broken rib stuck in his lungs. (Hundreds attended his funeral, above.)
But don’t ask Major Wicha about that. Continue reading
Posted in army, Burma, courts, disappearance, extrajudicial killing, human rights, military, Myanmar, other countries, police, rule of law, Thailand, torture, UN, UPI
Tagged Major Wicha Phutong, Martial Law, Narathiwat, Phuthong, Sri Lanka, Suantham Temple, Wat Suantham, Wicha, Wicha Phuthong, Yapa Koseng
According to the United Nations, the Royal Thai Police are organized criminals.
That, at least, is the inference to be drawn from looking at its Convention against Transnational Organized Crime, which was adopted in 2001 and which defines an organized crime group as involving at least three people acting in concert over a period of time “with the aim of committing one or more serious crimes or offences… in order to obtain… a financial or other material benefit.”
It would be hard to overstate the extent to which Thailand’s police fit this definition. A browse through a few newspapers of recent weeks alone reveals as much. Continue reading
Posted in crime, extrajudicial killing, human rights, police, Thailand, torture, UN, UPI
Tagged Border Patrol Police, BPP, Chai, Chai Rachawat, Chaloemtiara, Convention against Transnational Organized Crime, Rachawat, Ratchawatr, Royal Thai Police, RTP, Special Branch, Thak, Thak Chaloemtiara