Thai police torture to continue, for now

Cops not ready for Anti-torture bill, says Damrongsak

Pol Gen Damrongsak Kittiprapas has written to the Ministry of Justice, asking for a delay in the enforcement of the Anti-Torture Act, claiming that his officers are not ready to give up police torture.

The act was trailered in October last year, with the provision that it would come into force on February 22.

The letter dated January 6 was signed by top cop Damrongsak, the Royal Thai Police Chief. According to Prachatai English, in the letter, the chief lists the difficulties his officers will have in remaining within the law (i.e., not torturing anyone).

The law, Damrongsak says, requires the police to make audio or video recordings from the moment of arrest through to release. This will require over 170,000 more body and vehicle cameras and more within facilities, costing around 3.4 billion baht (US$100 million), not to mention the Cloud costs. This budget can be submitted for the 2023 fiscal year at the earliest.

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The letter underlined that a police torture survey of officers nationwide and found that they are still behind in dealing with recording technology and time is needed to train them.

Lastly, Damrongsak says the law lacks concrete guidelines which are to be established by the Commission on the Prevention and Suppression of Torture and Enforced Disappearance, an entity yet to be set up.

The law provides clear legal means to end the impunity authorities have enjoyed in torturing people to extract information or confessions.

It requires police to make audio or video recordings throughout its operations, starting from the arrest. It also requires a comprehensive log of detentions, available to administrative officers and prosecutors in the area where the detention occurs.

Although Thailand became a signatory to the Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment in 2007 and signed off on the Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance in 2012, the first attempt to pass implementing legislation did not come until 2014.

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Jon Whitman

Jon Whitman is a seasoned journalist and author who has been living and working in Asia for more than two decades. Born and raised in Glasgow, Scotland, Jon has been at the forefront of some of the most important stories coming out of China in the past decade. After a long and successful career in East sia, Jon is now semi-retired and living in the Outer Hebrides. He continues to write and is an avid traveller and photographer, documenting his experiences across the world.

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