CrCF Press Release: Suspension or transfer to other posts of concerned officials to ensure an independent inquiry into the death in custody of Mr. Thawatchai Anukul and prevention of impunity

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Thai version is attached: 2016_08_02 CrCF statement on Mr. Thawatchai Anukul_ death in custody- Eng- Thai- public

For immediate release on 2 September 2016

Press Release

Suspension or transfer to other posts of concerned officials to ensure an independent inquiry

into the death in custody of Mr. Thawatchai Anukul

and prevention of impunity

 

On 30 Aug 2016, It has been reported that Mr. Thawatchai Anukul, former Phuket land official died mysteriously after having been arrested by the Department of Special Investigation (DSI) on allegations of corruption with regard to issuing of land title deeds worth nearly ten billion baht in the provinces of Phuket and Phang-nga.

 

He was been held in custody at the DSI. The Mongkutwattana Hospital has revealed that around 1:00 am on 30th August 2016, the DSI contacted them with the information that Mr. Thawatchai Anukul had passed out. Around 1.15am, an emergency medical team of the Mongkutwattana Hospital reached DSI and found Mr. Thawatchai Anukul in a critical condition. The emergency team made attempts to resuscitate him on the spot using CPR and also rushed him to the hospital for further treatment. At 4.45am, he was pronounced to be dead.

 

On the same day, DSI officials had taken media crew to the sixth floor of the building where the detention cell no. 6008 is located. Security guards heavily manned the entrance and no outsider was allowed. The electronic door of the cell was made of transparent glass and the inside of the cell could be seen through a cctv camera installed. The cell was located right next to the room of custodian chief officer.

 

According to the information shared during the DSI’s press conference, Mr. Thawatchai Anukul had been arrested and held in custody at the holding cell of DSI awaiting transfer for the remand hearing at the Court in the morning (30 August). He died in the middle of the night. The security guards had found him hanging from a door hinge using his own shirt. He allegedly died of suffocation. He was transferred to the hospital and later pronounced dead. His body had been examined by the Police Institute of Forensic Medicine, and it was announced that his causes of death were relating to the bleeding in abdominal cavity, damaged liver as a result of pressure from blunt object coupled with suffocation as a result of the hanging.

To ensure that the investigation of the death in custody of Mr. Thawatchai Anukul will be conducted in a transparent and fair manner and to ensure that the Thai government act in compliance with the laws and international obligations, the Cross Cultural Foundation (CrCF) would like to propose the following recommendations;

  1. The government should set up an independent inquiry committee composed of representatives from concerned agencies and experts who are neutral, excluding the in-charge agency such as the DSI and those involved with the arrest and prosecution in this case, so that the investigation is conducted in a straightforward and transparent manner.
  2. DSI officials who might be involved or responsible for the custody of Mr. Thawatchai Anukul should either be suspended from office or transferred to inactive posts to prevent any possible undue intervention and tampering with evidence.
  3. Thailand is a party to the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CAT) (thereafter called “Convention Against Torture – CAT) having given the ascension to the Convention since 2 October 2007 and the Convention has been effective for Thailand since 1 November 2007. Therefore, it is obliged to monitor and propose effective measures, legislatively, judicially and administratively, to prevent an act of torture in the Kingdom and to act in compliance with other provisions in the Convention. Any death in custody must be subject to an investigation to determine the real causes of death and to provide remedies in all cases as well as to keep relatives of the victims informed of the progress constantly.
  4. Should it be determined that the death of Mr. Thawatchai Anukul had been caused by a criminal act, a criminal investigation must be carried out against the superior officials who had neglected their duties and had allowed the act of torture to be committed by their staff. The superior officials must be held accountable and all officials who are implicated must stand the trial and the relatives of the victim must be provided with due remedies.
  5. At present, there have been many new detention facilities established by the laws and special decrees. Many of them are not listed in the official list of detention facilities. In other word, they are “safe-houses” that are allowed to be used under the special laws. Measures for prevention of suicide by the detainees who have not been convicted should include checks by the security officials to ensure that detainees are not in possession of objects that could be used for aiding suicide such as shower hoses. Therefore, all agencies including the Department of Corrections, the Royal Thai Police, the Immigration Office, the Royal Thai Army or the Ministry of Defence, as well as the Department of Special Investigation, which have their own detention facilities, must ensure that there are effective inspections of the facilities such that they are in compliance with international standards and practices. Access to all such facilities should be provided to independent inspectors and monitors such that they can make unannounced visits anytime.

 

  1. The government should act immediately as they have pledged with international community on 11 May 2016 during the Second Universal Periodical Review at Geneva, Switzerland, to act in compliance with the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture as Thailand is a State party to the Convention. The State should expedite its effort to set up a national committee to visit detention facilities to prevent torture.

2 September 2016

Cross Cultural Foundation (CrCF)

 

 

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