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ICJ raises concerns over anti-torture bill delays

On 20 December 2019, the International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) submitted recommendations to the Ministry of Justice on the Draft Prevention and Suppression of Torture and Enforced Disappearances Act, scheduled for public consultation between 4 and 31 December 2019.
 
 
The ICJ also expressed concern at the recurrent delays in the amendment and enactment of this important legislation which will be critical for ensuring accountability and justice for future victims of torture and enforced disappearance. In October, the Ministry of Justice withdrew the draft Act from the Cabinet "for further revision", an act which has served to further delayed the passage of essential legislation criminalizing torture and enforced disappearances. 
 
The ICJ also regretted that the latest Draft Act, after several rounds of revisions and public hearings, still has not addressed many of the principal shortcomings which the ICJ and other stakeholders and experts have indicated need necessarily be amended in order to bring the law into line with Thailand’s international human rights obligations, particularly under the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (“UNCAT”) and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (“ICCPR”). As it stands, it is also inconsistent with the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance (“ICPPED”), which Thailand has signed and committed itself to ratify.
 

The key concerns include:

  • Definitions of the crimes of torture and enforced disappearance, as well as of other key terms, that are incomplete or otherwise discordant with international law;
  • The absence of provisions concerning cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment (CIDT/P);
  • The inadequacy of provisions on the inadmissibility of statements and other information obtained by torture, CIDT/P and enforced disappearances as evidence in legal proceedings;
  • The inadequacy of provisions relating to modes of liability for crimes described in the Draft Act;
  • The inadequacy of provisions concerning safeguards against torture, CIDT/P and enforced disappearances; and
  • The absence of provisions concerning the continuous nature of the crime of enforced disappearance and statute of limitations for torture and enforced disappearance crimes.