Thailand: 'culture of torture' under military regime

Amnesty International on Sept. 28 released a report detailing the prevalence of torture employed by Thai authorities, and asserting that the military government has instated a "culture of torture." The report, "Make Him Speak by Tomorrow," named after an apparently common order given to soldiers, is the product of a two-year investigation and details 74 cases of torture or other forms of ill-treatment implemented by Thai authorities. Although Thailand is a party to the UN Convention against Torture, Amnesty charges that many elements of the legal system allow or incentivize the use of torture. Thailand is currently working on legislation that would criminalize torture, but AI's report also provides suggestions for how the government can resolve the major issues.

These include ending unaccountable detention, criminalizing torture, banning the use of "evidence" obtained by torture and other ill-treatment, investigating reports of torture and bringing those responsible to justice, creating an independent monitoring body to carry out oversight of detention facilities, and providing remedies to victims.

The report was set to be launched at a press conference in Bangkok on Wednesday, but Thai authorities threatened AI representatives with arrest and prosecution if they went forward, prompting them to cancel the event.

Thailand has been home to significant human rights concerns for years, some of which stem from the nation's court system. In particular, human rights groups worldwide have expressed growing concern over violations in Thailand since the military junta came to power in May 2014. Earlier in September Thailand's military government announced that it will prosecute cases concerning national security and "royal insult" in civilian courts, as opposed to military courts where the cases have been tried since 2014. Also in September the Thailand Supreme Court affirmed a 20-year prison sentence given to protest leader Sondhi Limthongkul in 2012. Last month Thailand passed a new constitution by referendum vote. The constitution was drafted by a military-appointed council and is feared to be another step in entrenching military control of the nation.

From Jurist, Sept. 28. Used with permission.

Thailand passes controversial cybersecurity law

Thailand unanimously passed the Cybersecurity Act on Feb. 28 that gives the government control over the internet. This act permits the National Cybersecurity Committee, led by Thailand’s military, "to summon individuals for questioning and enter private property without court orders in case of actual or anticipated ‘serious cyber threats." A Cybersecurity Regulating Committee can also now search and seize data and hardware without a warrant if confronted with such a threat. (Jurist)