In response to the AHRC's open letter to Abhisit Vejjajiva on 18 June regarding the detention and treatment of people arrested under the Emergency Decree, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has posted its reply on its website.
Foreign Ministry’s response to Asian Human Rights Commission’s open letter
June 29, 2010, 7:16 pm
With reference to Asian Human Rights Commission’s open letter to the Thai Prime Minister dated 18 June 2010, expressing concern about the detention of persons under Thailand’s Emergency Decree on Public Administration in Emergency Situation, B.E. 2548 (2005), and their treatment, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs wishes to make the following statement to clarify a number issues raised therein:
1. The fundamental human rights of those arrested during the protests by the United Front for Democracy Against Dictatorship (UDD) have been fully respected in accordance with the Thai Constitution and within the parameters of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and other relevant international human rights instruments to which Thailand is party. Indeed, the Emergency Decree contains various safeguards that prevent any arbitrary actions by state officers. Among others, the custody period of the detainees under the Emergency Decree is limited to a maximum of thirty days, during which a court approved extension is required for every seven-day period. Upon the expiration of the thirty-day period, if further detention is still required, the competent officials must act in accordance with regular procedures as provided for under the Criminal Procedure Code. During the period of detention, lawyers and family members may visit the suspects. There is also full accounting of persons being held under the Decree, which provides that copies of custody reports filed with the courts be kept at the office of the competent officials. The names and locations of such detainees are thus a matter of public record, as are their conditions and circumstances of detention. As for those charged with violating emergency laws in accordance with the Criminal Procedure Code, the Royal Thai Police has published a list of such detainees specifying details of their whereabouts and contact details of their case officers. This list is also available on the website of the Royal Thai Police at http://www.saranitet.police.go.th/pdf/news09062553.pdf.
2. Custodial maltreatment is not endorsed by law nor tacitly encouraged through routine practice. The Penitentiary Act provides the legislative framework on the treatment of detainees and its provisions on the use of restraints are consistent with generally accepted standards. In this regard, the law stipulates that restraints may be used only when they are required as a precaution against escape, or to prevent self harm or harm to others, or where there is a Ministerial order to do so. The authorities concerned have set general guidelines on the use of restraints, which underline the need to exercise prudence with due regard to human rights and dignity and demonstrate the necessity and appropriateness of such use. Sweeping generalisation about the shackling of wounded persons in hospitals and attempts to link such information to totally unrelated events should therefore be avoided
3. The Emergency Decree was promulgated to enable the Government to deal with emergency situations in a more effective, integrated and expeditious manner so as to maintain law and order – an imperative as recognised under Article 4.1 of the ICCPR. The use of the Decree has been under constant review based on assessments of the situation on the ground, which underline the necessity of maintaining the Decree in effect for the time being to prevent possible violent or unlawful activities. Be that as it may, the use of the Decree has not caused undue effect upon ordinary people and their normal activities or businesses. Neither, as the Government has recently stated, will it pose any obstacle to political campaigning leading up to the by-election to be held on 25 July 2010 in an electoral district of Bangkok. Furthermore, with the Government and Parliament discharging their normal functions, to allege that the country has been ruled “by decree” with a “de facto military administration” is a total misrepresentation.
4. As a matter of principle, the Government is open to scrutiny and stands ready to be accountable in accordance with the law. Separate investigations into the various incidents are being carried out by the Department of Special Investigation (DSI), the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), the National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC), and also by an independent fact-finding committee chaired by Professor Dr. Kanit Na Nakorn, a former Attorney-General. These will proceed without government interference.