Cross Cultural Foundation statement
English version released on 26 October 2015
Close down the temporary remand army facility on Nakhon Chai Sri Road:
Checks and Balances Urged on the death in custody
Since 8 September 2015, the Minister of Justice has issued the MoJ Directive no. 314/2558 to designate a temporary remand facility on Nakhon Chai Sri Road for holding in custody suspects in special cases who should be remanded in custody separately from other suspects. The facility is located inside the 11th Army Circle on Rama V Road, Bangkok, a military barrack. However, on 23 October, Pol Maj Prakrom Warunprapa, a suspect on violation of Article 112 of the Penal Code (lèse-majesté), was found to have died allegedly from hanging himself in the cell. The policeman has been remanded in custody by the order of the Bangkok Military Court on 21 October.
A criminal proceeding in cases involving serious crime relating to special circumstances has to be conducted with accountability and transparency. Insofar, Thailand’s justice system has constantly been developed on par with international standards based on the rule of law. Such improvement is prone to be tarnished by claims of “exceptional circumstances’ whereby the reporting, arrest, investigation, detention and trial are conducted simply by one single unit of agencies, on this case is military. It markedly differs from checks and balances in normal criminal justice proceeding which involves different organs including the police, the public prosecutor, the correction department and the court. Also, such normal criminal proceeding is governed by many legal provisions and practices to ensure a fair trial. In addition, Thailand is a state party to the UN Convention Against Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CAT) since 2007 and the use of torture is an absolute prohibition and not a single circumstance, whether it is a case of terrorism, drug-trafficking, insurrection and sensitive issues such as the lèse-majesté case, can be cited as the reason for a derogation.
In light of the incidence, the Cross Cultural Foundation (CrCF) have the following opinions to make and is calling for the following;
- The temporary remand facility on Nakhon Chai Sri Road should be shut down since it is not ready and appropriate to hold a suspect. Also, a suspect in political case should be remanded in custody in a special zone within a normal detention facility. Even though the facility has been set up by the order of the Ministry of Justice, but given a lack of training of personnel and a lack of understanding of the role of the personnel and its being located in a military barrack, it has raised doubts as to the real causes of death of this important suspect.
- According to the press release by the Corrections Department, the suspect had been subjected to solitary confinement, the practice of which is a breach of human rights principle which prohibits the imposition of such solitary confinement against a suspect, particularly those implicated in a political case.
- As to the announcement that an inquiry shall be conducted on this case, it should be ensured that such inquiry committee is impartial and reliable with competency to shed light on the death. Procedures including the postmortem autopsy, crime scene investigation and post mortem inquest have to be conducted properly according to the procedural law. And anyone found responsible for such a crime has to be brought to justice through a fair trial or disciplinary action.
- The authorities must welcome periodic inspection and visiting of the prison by independent organizations including the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) and international agencies including the OHCHR and the ICRC to ensure its transparency and accountability. This will also help ensure that no human rights violations are made in breach of the international obligations by which Thailand as a state party has to abide.
- The government is urged to proceed as its previous pledge, during the review of CAT, to sign the CAT’s Optional Protocol (OPCAT) for the establishment of an independent organization to provide for visitation to all detention facilities to prevent torture and any ill and inhuman treatment.
For information, please contact Pornpen Khongkachonkiet 02-6934939