THAILAND: Investigation of alleged torture against suspects of the Criminal Court bomb attack urged; Martial Law must be lifted

A bomb exploded inside the compound of the Bangkok Criminal Court on 7 March 2015 and nine suspects have been arrested so far.

Today, 17 March 2015, the Thai Lawyers for Human Rights (TLHR) has received complaints from four of the suspects in this case including Mr. Sansern Sriounruen, Mr. Chanwit Chariyanukul, Mr. Norapat Luephon, and Mr. Wichai Yusuk.

It has been alleged in the complaints that the four suspects were subjected to torture, including being hit, punched, booted in their head, chest, back, and threatened with assault, in order to extract information from them. In addition, some suspects were electrocuted, leaving visible traces on their skin, while being held in custody from 9-15 March under Martial Law.

TLHR is gravely concerned about the use of Martial Law to hold a person in custody and to prevent the person from communicating with his or her relatives and lawyers during the seven days. Previous detentions invoking Martial Law since the coup have taken place in undisclosed facilities and were conducted without transparency and accountability. The latest case of its kind involves the detention of Ms. Nutthathida Meewangpla; it was made known only later that she had been subjected to military custody.

The deprivation of liberty of a person, invoking Martial Law, may give rise to arbitrary exercise of power, torture and ill-treatment, and enforced disappearance. Torture inflicted on a person in custody is considered a gross human rights abuse and is a breach to obligations regarding the UN Convention Against Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (UNCAT) to which Thailand is a state party and has been obliged to follow since 1 November 2007.

TLHR demands the following from concerned agencies:

  1. The National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) must bring to a halt the invocation of Martial Law to suppress any criminal act, as the police are already able to invoke their power as per the Criminal Procedure Code to effectively apply for arrest warrants and investigate the case.
  2. The Department of Corrections, which supervises detention facilities, must ensure access to independent and impartial physicians for the four suspects. They, along with other suspects in the same case, should have access to physical and mental examination so as to create a guarantee against any possibility of being subjected to torture and ill-treatment during the time Martial Law is imposed. 
  3. The Royal Thai Police must conduct an investigation and collect evidence related to the abuses committed against the four suspects and bring the perpetrators to justice. 

With respect to people’s rights and liberties,

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