Thailand: APT welcomes progress to end torture and enforced disappearances
The APT welcomes the historic approval by Thailand’s Parliament of the first reading of the Anti-Torture and Enforced Disappearance Bill on 16 September 2021.
The Parliament considered four different drafts of the Bill and, with a large majority, agreed to adopt the Bill presented by the Ministry of Justice. The draft law criminalises torture and enforced disappearance; proposes criminal sanctions for supervisors who are aware of but fail to stop government officials from committing such human rights violations; and empowers victims and family to seek reparations.
Cases of torture and enforced disappearance in Thailand have typically gone unresolved, with reported cases rarely resulting in justice and accountability for victims and their family. Instances where Thai state officials have been accused of using torture on suspects during interrogation have not been adequately investigated due to inadequate legal provisions. The recent video of a death in custody that went viral online was one of many incidents and allegations of torture involving authorities that can only be addressed effectively with a law that criminalises torture.
Passage of the Bill at the first reading stageis an important step towards Thailand fulfilling its obligations from ratifying the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment in 2007 and signing the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance in 2012.
The APT also welcomes the creation of a special committee on the Anti-Torture and Enforced Disappearance Bill, which is tasked with reviewing articles in the Bill to ensure they are aligned with Thailand’s international human rights obligations.
The committee comprises current and former politicians, lawyers, doctors and qualified experts from civil society – including leading anti-torture activist and APT partner, Pornpen Khongkachonkiet – and will foster improved engagement and synergies among authorities and the public. The APT is ready to provide support to the special committee.
The APT calls on Thai legislators to pass and implement the Anti-Torture and Enforced Disappearance Bill, which will provide the framework and momentum to prohibit and prevent torture in the country, as well as ensure victims and families have access to justice and effective remedies.
In November, Thailand’s human rights performance will be discussed during its Universal Periodic Review by the Human Rights Council. Furthermore, as a state party to the Convention against Torture and a signatory state to the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance. Thailand has made concrete pledges to prevent and prohibit torture. As such, adoption and implementation of the Anti-Torture and Enforced Disappearance Bill will continue to demonstrate Thailand’s commitment to the regional and global movement against torture.