PM orders police to stop parading suspects before media
In a directive designed to improve Thailand’s human rights standards, Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha has issued an order to police to stop presenting suspects in criminal cases to the media during press conferences as the practice is seen as unfair to the accused.
The Prime Minister issued the order in August after receiving a weekly report on human rights violations from the Ministry of Justice, but news of the directive only surfaced last week when a police spokesman said the department would comply.
The report dated August 3, said that bringing suspects to press conferences has negative consequences for the accused. Should the suspects eventually be acquitted of charges and freed, or even if they were convicted, they would face added difficulties re-integrating into society because of the stigma and notoriety.
Police General Dejnarong Sutthicharn-bancha, who serves as the spokesman for the Royal Thai Police, said he personally agreed with the order and believed it would not adversely affect police work.
When suspects are presented to the media, they are usually seated in a police station behind a table containing evidence allegedly implicating them in the crime. Police detail the accusations to reporters, and at times the suspects speak to the press.
Angkhana Neelaphaijit, a National Human Rights Commissioner, said the presentation of suspects violates the rights of the accused because they sway the public to judge them as guilty before they have been tried and proven guilty. She said the Commission has received several complaints about the practice on several occasions, and has urged police to end the tradition several times.
“What’s important is that we must adhere to the principle of innocent until proven guilty,” she said.
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