Thailand: Reducing risks of torture through effective procedural safeguards
For the next three years, the APT will embark on a national project focusing on the effective implementation of safeguards to reduce the risks of torture and ill-treatment. This project will be implemented in cooperation with civil society and authorities. On 9 July, the APT signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Rights and Liberties Protection Department under the Ministry of Justice, to further strengthen our institutional cooperation.
The project includes not only a qualitative baseline study, technical support and training for authorities, but also as a national campaign. It was designed on the findings of a global research that identified safeguards in the first hours of police custody – such as information on rights, notification of third parties and access to a lawyer – as having the highest impact in reducing the risks of torture and ill-treatment. It received strong support from local partners such as the National Human Rights Commission of Thailand and civil society organisations.
The collaboration with the Ministry of Justice kicked off on 10 July with a focus group discussion for 30 police/military officials and lawyers. This exchange aimed to further understand realities on the ground and to develop trust with the authorities. The outcome forms part of the baseline study that will inform APT’s advocacy strategies with other partners. The baseline study also includes a survey conducted among civil society organisations, as well as interviews with former detainees, their family members, and forensic doctors.
While the end goal of the project is to enhance the implementation of safeguards by authorities in Thailand, it will only be effectively achieved if all national actors jump onboard. “It is natural for government and civil society to face challenges in working together. However, this needs to change, and the APT will continue to encourage and bridge efforts for such collaboration,” concluded Shazeera Zawawi. “Only together, can we prevent torture.”