Thai government vows to work with Amnesty International

torture3Governments and human rights groups sometimes have contentious relationships, but Thailand’s Ministry of Justice pledged last week to work with global human rights group Amnesty International to end instances of torture by security forces in the Kingdom documented by the rights organization in a recently released report.

“We have talked about the progress by the Thai government toward the prevention and suppression of torture to representatives of Amnesty International, as we want to show that the government is serious about tackling this issue,” Tawatchai Thaikyo, the spokesperson for the Ministry of Justice told a press conference last week.

“We emphasize that the Justice Ministry is an ally of Amnesty International and we will work together to protect the human rights for all citizens,” he added.

Amnesty recently published a report titled Make Him Speak by Tomorrow: Torture and Other Ill-Treatment in Thailand. The report documents cases of torture at the hands of the military and police, particularly in the Deep South where a violent insurgency has been raging for many years. The report detailed 74 cases of torture by Thai authorities or security forces.

Controversy surrounded the release of the report when the Ministry of Labor asked police to prevent Amnesty from holding a press conference, citing that some Amnesty staff lack work permits, and so by law could not legally engage in their activities in the Kingdom. The report is available online in Thailand and worldwide.

Amnesty representatives said that their goal was to provide the government with real information about incidents that have been taking place, and to offer recommendations and advice on measures to take to eliminate the practices. The group stressed that its report was not intended to discredit the government.

Tawatchai said that the Thai government is working to prevent and stop the violations. Thailand has ratified the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, and the National Legislative Assembly is currently drafting the Torture and Forced Disappearance Prevention and Suppression Bill.

Following the discussions between the ministry and Amnesty International, Tawatchai said the advocacy group would work with the Rights and Liberties Protection Department to help government officials solve the problem of torture. This would involve human resources development, academic research and improving understanding among justice agencies.

Also last week, the Thailand Institute of Justice (TIJ) announced it has collaborated with the Thailand Development Research Institute in conducting research to develop a set of indicators to measure rule of law and justice in the Kingdom.

“With good laws comes good society, but without the rule of law, good laws cannot happen. Rule of law is fundamental to all justice processes,” said Kittipong Kittayarak, executive director of the TIJ. “So we’re now working to create indicators to ensure that justice will be accessible to the general public.”

The TIJ emerged from the development of Princess Bajrakitiyabha’s project to enhance lives of female inmates suffering from unequal gender treatment in the country’s jails. Known as “The Bangkok Rules,” they were adopted by the United Nations in 2010 as the United Nations Rules for the Treatment of Women Prisoners – or Non-custodial Measures for Women Offenders.