21 Jan 2016
Cross Cultural Foundation
Stop arbitrary arrest of a suspect under military court warrant
It has been widely reported in public and online media that Mr. Sirawith Seritiwat aka ‘Ja New’, a student of the Faculty of Political Science, Thammasat University, and core member of the Democracy Study Group was apprehended around 22.30 on 20 January 2016. Based on the released CCTV footage by the university, a group of men in military uniform came by in two pickup trucks and charged in on a man in white shirt pushing him into a pickup truck and then driving away at the entrance of the Thammasat University Rangsit Campus (the Chiang Rak Gate). Mr. Sirawith and his two friends just were just returning from eating outside. His two friends including passerby clearly bore witness to what happened to him. It was such a flagrant human rights violation. Apart from depriving the right to freedom and body of Mr. Sirawith, it was also an outrageous act committed in a public space with the threatening effect on human rights and incurring fear in life and property of general public.
Moreover, the act could easily define as an act of enforced disappearance meaning an arrest, detention, abduction or any other form of deprivation of liberty by agents of the State or by persons or groups of persons acting with the authorization, support or acquiescence of the State, followed by a refusal to acknowledge the deprivation of liberty or by concealment of the fate or whereabouts of the disappeared person. Though the act of enforced disappearance in the case of Mr. Sirawith Seritiwat took place for two and a half hours and later he was handed over to the police officers of the Nimit Mai Police Station at 01.00am on 21 January 2016 according to the arrest record written at 03.00am and the police claimed the arrest was carried out per the arrest warrant.
With regard to the incidence, CRCF deems that any arresting officer who conducts the apprehension and the arrest of a person wanted by a warrant of the Military Court is obliged to act in compliance with the purpose of the Criminal Procedure Code and the guidance provided for in the Constitution and international human rights standards. Also, they should avoid carrying out the arrest at night. Mr. Sirawith Seritiwat is also not a suspect in a serious crime and has not made any gesture to use violence. He is simply a student activist who socially campaigns to urge for the probe on the exercise of the state power and corruption. The government should therefore resort to use a more lenient approach and abides strictly be what is provided for by the criminal law.
According to the criminal law, all are equal before the law including those political dissents or those wanted by warrants of the Military Court. Such person must be deprived of liberty in a publicly known place and no incommunicado detention should be allowed. They should be entitled to access to lawyer and independent medical doctor among others. Such rights shall ensure the protection of their human dignity and prevention of torture and inhuman and degrading act as well as their right to life. Also, they cannot be treated as an offender before the proving of their guilt.
CRCF has this to propose to the Prime Minister;
1. The incidence on the night of 20 January toward the morning of 21 January 2016 2016 should seriously and urgent inquired to determine who the arresting persons were, from which agencies, and they should be held liable for the violation of human rights. This will ensure that such outrageous act against social activist and human rights defenders shall not happen again.
2. Should there be any credible facts that the enforced disappearance including the arrest, detention, abduction or any other form of deprivation of liberty by agents of the State or by persons or groups of persons acting with the authorization, support or acquiescence of the State, followed by a refusal to acknowledge the deprivation of liberty or by concealment of the fate or whereabouts of the disappeared person which place such a person outside the protection of the law, an effort must be made to ensure the alleged officers who harbored or supported such as act be made criminally and disciplinarily liable.
Enforced disappearance is a gross human rights violation with regard to the obligations under the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance and it should not be tolerated by the state in any circumstances, reasons or to whoever it was committed.
For more information, please contact Pornpen Khongkachonkiet 086-7093000