martial law, rule of law, South Thailand

First Hearing by the Supreme Administrative Court Victim of Torture, Rayu Dorkor speaks out

Released on 16 January 2015

Press Release
First Hearing by the Supreme Administrative Court
Victim of Torture, Rayu Dorkor, Seeking to hold Ministry of Defence, Royal Thai Army, Royal Thai Police and Office of the Prime Minister to Account

​The Supreme Administrative Court is scheduled to have the first hearing on 20 January 2558 at 09.30 at Court Room 12, the Office of the Administrative Court, 3rd Floor (Government Complex, Chaeng Wattana Rd.) in the Black Case no. O464/2555. In this case, Mr. Rayu Dorkor, the plaintiff has filed a complaint with the Songkhla Administrative Court on 22 June 2010 asking for compensation from the Ministry of Defence, the Royal Thai Army, and the Royal Thai Police, defendants no.1-3, later, the Songkhla Administrative Court requested that the Office of the Prime Minister be held as the defendant no.4 since the military officials involved in this case worked for Taskforce 39 which was under the charge of Internal Security Operations Command Region 4 Forward and the Internal Security Operations Command Region affiliated to the Office of the Prime Minister.

This is one of the first few case of its kind that a victim who had been subject to torture while being held in custody invoking Martial Law in the Southern Border Provinces has exercised his judicial right to file complaint against state agencies (Royal Thai Army and Ministry of Defende) to hold them accountable for the performance of duties of military officials under their charge in the SBPs who have caused an infringement on civilians, invoking the Tortuous Liability of Officials Act B.E. 2539 (1996). The case was filed with the Civil Court on 14 January 2009 which has led to a dispute on jurisdiction of the case by the two parties. Eventually, both the Civil Court and the Songkhla Administrative Court concurred that the exercise of power invoking Martial Law falls under jurisdiction of the Administrative Court. Thus, the Civil Court has disposed of the case. Mr. Rayu Khordor, the plaintiff, has thus brought the case to the Songhkhla Administrative Court on 22 June 2010 and for over two years, the Court has conducted an inquiry to induce evidence from both parties.

In addition, it is one of the first two cases in Thailand’s justice process whereby medical reports regarding the torture have been submitted as evidence to the Court and shall provide a basis to determine remediation measure as per Section 32 of the Constitution of the Kingdom of Thailand which provides for the right of a person to be free from torture and to be entitled to appropriate remedies according to the arising damage.

Background

From 19 to 21 March 2008, successively, the military and police officials have held in custody Mr. Rayu Dorkor, along with Imam Yapha Kaseng and other individuals and brought to them a press conference during which they were presented as being members of the insurgent group in the Southern Border Provinces. Later, they were detained in a truck for holding illegal offenders which belonged to the Royal Thai Police and located in Taskforce 39 Narathiwat. Several military officials have collectively beaten up Mr. Rayu and Imam Yapha Kaseng forcing them to confess to being members of the insurgent group in the Southern Border Provinces. As a result, Mr. Rayu was inflicted with bodily and mental pain while Imam Yapha Kaseng has succumbed to death.

At the time of interrogation and physical and mental abuse, Mr. Rayu was only 18. As a result of the grave bodily and mental grievances, Mr. Rayu Dorkor has decided to file a case with help from the Cross Cultural Foundation (CrCF) and Muslim Attorney Centre Foundation (MAC) to demand compensation from the agencies in charge of the officials who have caused the infringement and the Songkhla Administrative Court has accepted to hear the case and to allow them to waive the court fee as requested by the plaintiff.

Legal proceeding and the decision of the Songkhla Administrative Court

In this case, Mr. Rayu asked the Administrative Court to hold the defendants no. 1-3 to be held responsible for the following;

1. Defendants no. 1 and 2, together or alternately, provide indemnities for grievances inflicted on the body and health and damage for mental suffering for the amount of 918,750 baht plus 7.5% per annum of interest of the capital of 700,000 baht from the date the case is filed until all payment is made to the plaintiff.

2. Defendant no. 3 provides indemnities for damage done to the reputation for the amount of 306,250 baht plus 7.5% per annum of interest of the capital of 250,000 baht from the date the case is filed until all payment is made to the plaintiff.

3. The three defendants, together or alternately, provide indemnities for a lack of chance to earn one’s living, infringement on the right and liberty, bodily and mental health as a result of being apprehended, held in custody, subject to torture, ill treatment or cruel and inhumane punishment by the officials under the charge of the three defendants for the amount of 773,465 baht plus 7.5% per annum of interest of the capital of 631,400 baht from the date the case is filed until all payment is made to the plaintiff.

In total, the indemnities requested amount to 1,998,465 baht

On 14 March 2012, the Lower Court (Songkhla Administrative Court) asked the Office of the Prime Minister, the defendant no. 4, to provide indemnities for the infringement on the plaintiff covering damage to his body and health and mental grievances, and damage to his rights and liberty for the amount of 200,000 baht and for a lack of chance to earn one’s living 10,800 baht, altogether 210,800 baht. And since the debts incurred from an infringement, the defendant no. 4 is obliged to pay at a default interest rate of 7.5% per annum of the capital in this case counting from 19 March 2008, the day the infringement was committed. The default interest shall be calculated up to 22 June 2010 the day the case was filed with the Court, or 827 days, which would amount to 35,821.56 baht. In addition, the interest incurred from 23 June 2010, the day after the case was filed until all the payment is made has to be paid to the plaintiff as well. All the debts have to be paid off within 60 days since the day the final verdict is delivered. All other requests were dismissed. And defendants no.1, 2 and 3 are acquitted since the Songkhla Administrative Court deems that the offence against the plaintiff was committed by military officials from Taskforce 39 Narathiwat under the charge of defendant no. 4.

Both the plaintiff and the defendant no. 4 have submitted their motions of appeal to the Supreme Administrative Court.

The Supreme Administrative Court will conduct the first hearing of the case on 20 January 2015 at 09.30am. Both parties are entitled to present either oral or written statement or both to the judges.

For more information, please contact CrCF at 02-6934939 or the attorneys, Mr. Manu Manurassada 081-4394938 or Mr. Preeda Nakpew 089-6222474

Remarks

According to international law, torture is a grave criminal act since it is committed by law enforcement officers or state officials. At present, the methods of torture often leave no trace on the body. It has thus made it difficult to prove the damage and it may make a claim for damages impossible. Nevertheless, even without physical trace, a victim of torture certainly suffers a lasting mental trauma. And the mental impact of torture can only be examined by expert physicians.

In this case, Mr. Rayu has been examined physically and mentally and verified to have suffered from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). The examination report was written by two independent doctors who are members of the International Rehabilitation Council for torture victims (IRCT) based in Copenhagen, Denmark. It aims to work to enhance understanding and apply forensic science and forensic psychiatry to help torture victims worldwide under the Istanbul Protocol: Manual on the Effective Investigation and Documentation of Torture and other cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment of Punishment or Istanbul Protocol. It is an international standard providing a guideline for effective compilation of evidence from torture and how to provide protection and remedies for victims of torture.

Such international mechanism for the protection and prevention of torture shall help to bridge the gap and address shortcomings in the investigation of torture acts in Thailand. While PTSD has not been recognized and developed as a measure to help torture victims, it can still be taken as pertinent evidence to prove the gravity of the mental impact on the victims, which can last much longer than the physical impact. Victims of torture often find it difficult to seek remedies or fair compensation and the officials are encouraged to act arbitrarily provided the impunity they can enjoy. Also, their in charge agencies have failed to provide an effective oversight and as a result of which people’s rights and liberties have been compromised and eventually undermined, particularly those living in the restive area.

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