Thai authorities should promptly and impartially investigate the alleged torture of suspects in military detention, Human Rights Watch said today. To prevent further abuses, the government should immediately transfer all civilians detained at military facilities to officially recognized civilian places of detention.
“The Thai government’s mistreatment of civilians in military custody is rapidly piling up,” said Brad Adams, Asia director. “The government needs to respond to these allegations of torture with a serious investigation rather than perfunctory dismissals.”
The case of Prathin Chanket, 60, a former border patrol officer, is the latest alleged mistreatment in military custody. Prathin told his lawyer that after soldiers arrested him in Khon Kaen province on November 21, 2015, he was taken to a local army camp for two days before being transferred to an undisclosed army base. He said military interrogators slapped his face and kicked his legs to extract information and force him to confess to making lese majeste (insulting the monarchy) comments and being involved in plots against the ruling National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) junta. They alleged that Prathin was seeking to assassinate Prime Minister Gen. Prayut Chan-ocha and sabotage the “Bike For Dad” cycling event to be hosted by the government on December 11 to commemorate the King’s birthday.
The risk of torture and other serious abuses significantly increases when detainees are held incommunicado in military detention. Since the May 2014 coup, the NCPO junta has detained hundreds of politicians, activists, journalists, and people they accuse of supporting the deposed government, disrespecting or offending the monarchy, or being involved in anti-junta protests and activities. Many of these people have been held incommunicado in military camps where they have been interrogated without safeguards against torture and other ill-treatment.
“The Thai government’s use of military detention is a serious problem that should immediately end,” Adams said. “The government’s failure to heed concerns from the UN and human rights groups that civilians are at risk of serious abuses in military custody shows that the junta is leading Thailand into pariah state status.”