Thailand: The OPCAT and Legal Reform

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

The APT was in Bangkok from 8 to 13 November 2010, to jointly hold an event on ‘Strengthening the prevention of torture in Thailand: The OPCAT and legal reform on torture’ with the Ministry of Justice (Department of Rights and Liberties Protection) and the International Commission of Jurists.

Date: 08 - 12 November 2010
Place: Bangkok, Thailand
Purpose: The APT was in Bangkok from 8 to 13 November 2010, to jointly hold an event on ‘Strengthening the prevention of torture in Thailand: The OPCAT and legal reform on torture’ with the Ministry of Justice (Department of Rights and Liberties Protection) and the International Commission of Jurists.
Partners: International Commission of Jurists
Ministry of Justice, Department of Rights and Liberties
Activities: The three-day event (10 to 12 November 2010) examined key steps Thailand could take to better prevent torture and ill-treatment. It had the dual aim of:
  • Introducing the OPCAT to key stakeholders in Thailand and discussing the challenges and added value of ratification for Thailand
  • Supporting the DRLP in ensuring effective anti-torture legislation to implement the UNCAT

Participants included 120 representatives of relevant government agencies, NGOs, other civil society organizations and international organizations.

The workshop benefited from having Mr. Wilder Tayler, member of the UN Subcommittee on Prevention of Torture and Secretary General of the ICJ, as key note speaker on the OPCAT and implementation of the UNCAT at the national level.

The event built on APT’s previous engagement on torture prevention in Thailand, including joint workshops in 2006 and 2008 on Implementing the UN Convention against Torture and trainings for civil society on torture prevention.
Outcome: OPCAT:
  • Increased awareness among key government and non-governmental actors on the OPCAT
  • Key government representatives from the Department of Corrections, Royal Thai Police and Military discussed the  challenges and added value of the OPCAT for torture prevention in Thailand
  • Good practices from the Philippines were shared by a representative of the BALAY Rehabilitation Centre
  • Ways forward to better prevent torture in Thailand, including towards ratification of the OPCAT were identified
  • The Thai version of the APTs new manual on the OPCAT was provided as a concrete reference material to participants.

Legal reform on torture:
  • The international obligations on law reform to implement the UNCAT and examples of approaches from different countries were shared
  • Current proposals for legal reform against torture were presented: 1) amendment to the the criminal code and criminal procedure code and 2) civil society draft stand alone law on combating and preventing torture
  • The pros and cons of the two options and possible improvements were discussed, with views taken from participants
  • Suggestions from the consultation were noted and will be incorporated into the draft legislation by the Department of Rights and Liberties
Unique Aspects: This was the first workshop focused on OPCAT in Thailand.
This was the first time that concrete proposals for legislation on torture were discussed at an event bringing together relevant stakeholders in Thailand.
Next Steps:
  • The Department of Rights and Liberties Protection (DRLP) of the Ministry of Justice will incorporate suggestions from the consultation on law reform into the two draft laws and present them to the Minister of Justice
  • The DRLP, ICJ and APT will produce a workshop report, to be distributed to participants.
  • The APT will continue to support the Ministry of Justice and other actors in Thailand to implement the UN Convention against Torture and in considering ratification of its Optional Protocol
Documents: Concept Note: Strengthening the prevention of torture in Thailand: The OPCAT and legal reform on torture
Agenda

The APT’s newly published manual on the OPCAT has been translated into Thai and was released at the event.
The Thai version of APT’s leaflet of Frequently Asked Questions and Answers on the OPCAT.
The Redress Guide Bringing the International Prohibition of Torture Home in Thai.
Essex University publication Combating Torture: a Manual  for Judges and Prosecutors in Thai.
Contact Persons: Jem Stevens, APT Asia Pacific Programme Officer
Audrey Olivier, APT OPCAT Coordinator
Adam Fletcher, APT Legal Adviser