Thailand: Advancing on police training for the Méndez Principles

Thursday, March 30, 2023

The APT and key officials from the Thai Royal Police Cadet Academy (RPCA) will form a working group to integrate the Mendez Principles on Effective Interviewing into the Academy’s training curriculum.

This important collaboration was announced at the conclusion of a three-day operational workshop on the Mendez Principles for Thai law enforcement, involving 30 participants and lecturers from the RCPA, the Investigation Institute and the Central Investigation Bureau.

“This represents a significant milestone towards national implementation of the Méndez Principles,” APT Secretary General Barbara Bernath said.

Pol. Lt. Gen. Zenith Samransaruadkit, RPCA Police Commissioner, warmly welcomed the collaboration, which builds on previous engagement with the APT through the #SafeInCustody project.

The joint APT/RPCA workshop, held from 13-15 March 2023, with the support of the Norwegian Centre for Human Rights (NCHR), explored the key elements of the Méndez Principles, focusing on the advantages for police investigations and the importance of upholding safeguards in police custody.

Thai police experts and professors of psychology discussed the science of rapport-based interviewing,  and the value of shifting away from coercive interrogations, which reduces the risk of recording unreliable information and false memories.

Police superintendents representing the NCHR shared their experience in changing police mindsets and practice on effective interviewing.

Implementing the Méndez Principles will provide practical support to law enforcement in their efforts to meet their obligations under Thailand’s new anti-torture legislation.

Barbara Bernath, APT Secretary General

The Prevention and Suppression of Torture and Enforced Disappearance Act was adopted in October 2022 and entered into force on 22 February 2023. The new law represents a major step forward for Thailand in its efforts to implement both the Méndez Principles and the UN Convention against Torture.  

However, following concerns expressed by the Royal Thai Police regarding the lack of equipment, skills and standard guidelines, the entry into force of the Chapter on prevention, including on audio-visual recording, has been postponed until 1 October 2023.

On 16 March, the APT joined with the Rights and Liberties Protection Department of the Ministry of Justice to convene a dialogue with senior representatives of law enforcement agencies on the implementation of Thailand’s new anti-torture legislation, and this postponed section in particular. 

The dialogue involved police and military officials, administrative department officers, prosecutors, judges, correctional officers and the lawyers association. It was a unique opportunity for different State actors to come together to discuss the institutional challenges they face and to work together to find solutions.

As a result of this successful dialogue, participants were able to discuss next steps for the implementation of audio-visual recording and other safeguards to prevent torture and ill-treatment under the new legislation.

Staff members