Thai junta stays silent on UN inquiry into torture allegations of red-shirt activist Kritsuda

Thai junta ignored the UN inquiry into the torture allegations of Kritsuda Khunasen, a red-shirt political activist who was detained incommunicado for more than 20 days in June 2014.  

The UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) on Wednesday revealed that the junta had not replied to its inquiry, submitted on 22 August 2014, which urged the Thai authorities to investigate the torture allegations of Kritsuda Khunasen, a red-shirt activist who was detained by the military for nearly a month in June 2014.   

The UN rights agency also revealed that the junta did reply to an inquiry, submitted on 10 October 2014, on the alleged torture of five suspects who were arrested by security officers after the May 2014 coup. However, the Thai representative to the UN merely told the agency that relevant Thai authorities would consider the matter.

Four of the five suspects were accused of attacking an anti-election People’s Democratic Reform Committee (PDRC) protest on Ratchadamri Road in central Bangkok on February 2014. Another suspect was accused of involvement in a drag trafficking ring.  

In the reply, the Thai Ambassador and Deputy Permanent Representative to the UN submitted a letter to the OHCHR on 14 October 2014, saying that the Thai authorities acknowledged the inquiry and that it would be sent to the relevant agencies for further consideration.

“The Permanent Mission has forwarded your letter to the relevant agencies in Thailand for their further consideration,” wrote the Thai representative. “In the meantime, I wish to assure you of Thailand’s commitment to the protection and promotion of human rights.”

According to the reports that the UN received, Kritsuda was subjected to blindfolding, beatings, sexual harassment, and suffocation. Meanwhile, the UN said the reports show the five suspects were allegedly threatened with execution, blindfolded, beaten, suffocated, buried up to their necks, and given electric shocks while in military custody.

The UN rights agency urged the Thai authorities to investigate the torture allegations in compliance with the Covenant Against Torture (CAT) and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), which Thailand has ratified.

In a recent case, Thai Lawyers for Human Rights (TLHR) said four of the criminal court bombing suspects were tortured after their arrest in police custody in early March 2015.

“The four suspects were subjected to torture including being hit, punched and kicked in the head, chest and back and threatened with assault in order to extract information from them,” said TLHR. “In addition, some suspects were given electric shocks, leaving visible marks on their skin, while being held in custody under martial law between 9 and 15 March 2015.”

Last week, Col Winthai Suwaree, spokesperson of the junta’s National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO), stated that the allegations of torture by the four suspects are false. He said that the allegations are a distortion of the facts, and are aimed at ruining the credibility of the authorities.

The communications between the OHCHR and the Thai government were recently made public for the 28th session of the UN Human Rights Council from 2-27 March 2015.

The communications were disclosed after remaining confidential for three months to give the government the right of reply.