After the Bangkok Remand Prison attempted to separate red-shirt political prisoners from each other by sending them to several different prison zones, which was followed by the alleged beating to death of a red shirt by yellow-shirt inmates, a group of human rights lawyers has urged the prison to change its policy for the safety of political prisoners.
Thai Lawyers for Human Rights (TLHR) on Thursday submitted a letter to the Bangkok Remand Prison director asking the prison to review its assignment policy. Detainees charged with political offences who have not yet been convicted by the Supreme Court should be separated from other inmates convicted of various other crimes.
Normally, inmates whose cases have not yet proceeded to court or are before the Court of First Instance will be assigned to Zone 1 or the Entry Zone.
Before the re-assignment of inmates in August, most political prisoners were in the Entry Zone. Living together helped protect them from other inmates and increased the prisoner’s well-being. This, however, changed after a new prison director was appointed.
Since the coup d’état in May, the number of political prisoners, including lèse majesté prisoners, quickly increased.
These political detainees are usually abused and discriminated against by other inmates, who hold different political stances. Detainees charged with lèse majesté are especially targeted since their charges are considered taboo because they relate to the revered Thai monarchy.
In August, Surakrit Chaimongkol, 35, accused of killing Sutin Tharatin, a yellow-shirt leader who joined the anti-election People’s Democratic Reform Committee’s rallies, was believed to have been beaten to death in prison by other inmates, according to the TLHR.
According to Surakrit’s mother, she was told by her son that he would die in prison for killing a yellow-shirt leader. Shortly before his death, he said to his mother “If you don’t bail me out, I will definitely die in custody,” which was quoted by the Bangkok Post.
The statement submitted on Thursday specifically stated that according to Thailand’s 1936 Prison Regulation Act and the United Nation’s Recommendation on Detention No. 8, detainees who have not been proven guilty must not be detained in the same facilities as those whose cases have been completed.
TLHR added that according to the 2007 Constitution of Thailand, human dignity, rights, and freedom should be protected according to Thai customs and other international obligations, especially obligations on civil and political rights under treaties that Thailand has ratified.