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Anti-torture bill must be approved by this administration term, say CSOs

Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) demand the House of Representatives to immediately approve the anti-torture and enforced disappearance bill after the Senate review.

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On 9 August 2022, the Senate has approved the Draft Prevention and Suppression of Torture and Enforced Disappearance Act B.E….. This Act will then be submitted to the House of Representatives to decide whether they would agree with the Senate amendments or not.

The Union for Civil Liberty (UCL), and human rights organisations joined their signature under this statement, come to an agreement that the bill, which passed its third reading from the Senate, has not been substantially amended from the House of Representatives' version.

The Senate agreed to uphold the determination of the House of Representatives and human rights organisations that aims to pass the law and to improve Thailand's human rights standards to comply with the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CAT) and the International Convention for the Protection of all Persons from Enforced disappearance (CED).

Although some amendments were concerning: not extended statute of limitations, lack of definition of continuous crime in enforced disappearance case, all of the Committee for the Prevention and Suppression of Torture and Enforced Disappearance will be appointed by the cabinet, and the exclusion of victims or their representatives in this Committee.

The bill, amended by the Senate committee, still reaffirms the intent of several articles: the criminalisation of “cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment”, video and audio recordings during the arrest and detention which is an important safeguard to prevent torture and enforced disappearance, absolute prohibition of torture in war and emergency situations and ensuring accountability of the authorities, investigative bodies applied to many agencies including investigators, administrative departments, prosecutors and DSI officers, the statute of limitations beginning when the fate of the missing person is known, the jurisdiction of the Criminal Court for Corruption and Misconduct and to cut off the powers of the military courts in the case of military officers committing offenses under this Act.

For this reason, we urge the members of the House of Representatives to reconsider the Draft Prevention and Suppression of Torture and Enforced Disappearance Act B.E….., approved by the Senate which will be returned to the House of Representatives afterwards, in order to commence as law as soon as possible.

In case of any disagreement, a joint committee will be established between the Senate and the House of Representatives. This will delay the consideration of passing the law into effect and it will not make it in time considering the remaining parliamentary sessions.

This open letter wishes to confirm the intent of the draft law that will be highly beneficial to prevent and suppress torture and enforced disappearance, fulfilling Thailand’s obligation to comply with international laws, as well as to respect the will of the people. We remind the House of Representatives that passing the bill into effect as soon as possible will lead to the more effective protection of human rights in practice and the progress of Thailand's human rights situation to the global level.

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