Thailand adopts law to counter torture and enforced disappearances
The APT welcomes the passage of Thailand’s Bill on the Prevention and Suppression of Torture and Enforced Disappearance, which was adopted on 24 August 2022.
The legislation is expected to be endorsed by His Majesty The King and will come into force 120 days after publication in the Royal Gazette.
While the Bill has limitations, it is a very positive development in Thailand’s efforts to prevent and provide redress for torture, ill-treatment and enforced disappearances. It also supports Thailand meet its human rights obligations under the UN Convention against Torture (ratified in 2007) and the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance (signatory in 2012).
“The enactment of the Bill also complements our efforts with Thai authorities through the #SafeinCustody project, particularly in promoting safeguards to prevent incommunicado detention and forced confessions,” said APT Secretary General Barbara Bernath.
We will continue working for survivors and support the authorities on the implementation of the Bill.
Pornpen Khongkachornkiet, Executive Director, Cross Cultural Foundation
The Bill features welcome elements, including a provision criminalising cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment and a provision acknowledging that the crime of enforced disappearance is a continuous crime.
In addition, the Bill provides for the use of video and audio recordings during arrest and detention of individuals; the absolute prohibition of torture in war and emergency situations; ensuring accountability of the authorities; and the granting the Criminal Court for Corruption and Misconduct jurisdiction in all cases.
“This Bill was adopted through the persistent efforts of victims and their families, civil society organisations, parliamentarians, experts and authorities,” said Pornpen Khongkachornkiet, Executive Director of Thailand’s Cross Cultural Foundation.
“It may not fully translate all the provisions of the international conventions but it is a promising signal from the authorities,” she said.
Originally rejected by the post-coup National Legislative Assembly, the Bill was submitted to the House of Representatives in 2021. While the initial draft law proposed by Cabinet did not address the principal obligations under UNCAT, the ad hoc committee appointed by the House of Representatives successfully advocated to improve some key shortcomings,
The draft Bill was unanimously passed by the lower house on 23 February 2022, with the Senate passing the draft Bill during its first reading on 28 February 2022 and appointing an extraordinary committee to conduct a review of its provisions.
While civil society organisations called on the Senate to expedite passage of the legislation, an amended Bill was sent to the House of Representatives on 9 August for consideration. On 24 August 2022, the Senate-revised Bill was adopted by the Housewith 287 votes in favour, one against and one abstention.