Open Letter

Ref: UCL 1/2564

                                                                                                                                                       12th January 2021

Subject: Immediately implement urgent police reform according to the needs of the people

H.E. General Prayuth Chan-ocha, Prime Minister of Thailand

         It is clearly evident that this recent second wave of COVID-19 pandemic in Thailand importantly emerged from corrupted police officers and other government officials who allowed many foreign migrant workers to illegally enter into the country and all kinds of gambling dens to exist openly without fear of the law, essentially contributed to this outbreak that has caused infection to many innocent people nearly all over the country who had mainly cooperated with the government in prevention of the pandemic, serious burden to and scar on Thailand’s health care system and its personnel, which throughout 2020 had performed excellently in coping with the pandemic and drawn much praise from around the world as a success model, and great damages to the country’s economy and society.  The negligence of police officers who allowed existence of illegal gambling dens in exchange of their personal benefits from influence group proprietors of these places had occurred for a long, long time and widely known to you and the general public.

         Union for Civil Liberty (UCL) and other ally organizations that work for public interest have pointed out to an urgent need for reformation of the police institution which in fact is stated clearly in Section 258 of the Constitution of the Kingdom of Thailand B.E 2560 (2017) that the government must completely reform the police institution within a period of one year after the Constitution was promulgated.

         Near four full years have gone, but police reform, which is directly under responsibility of you as the current Prime Minister, has progressed very little as only a committee was set up to organize public hearing and consider content of proposed police reform again and again. This act is therefore seen as a long tactical delay of the matter that is so important for the country and should be urgently put into actions for completion as required by the Constitution.  Moreover, Bills involving Police Reform, of which their content reflect real needs of the people, were also delayed in their process of submission to the Parliament for consideration, especially a National Police Bill drafted by a committee chaired by a constitution drafting expert Meechai Ruechupan, an Investigation Bill, and proposals made by a special committee appointed by the Prime Minister chaired by Special Professor Vicha Mahakhun, a former highly respected judge, to conclude empirical facts and lessons learned from the case of Mr.Witthaya Yoowatthana, a son of billionaire brewery industrialist who hit and killed a police officer with his fast car but so far has managed to avoid justice because of collaboration from some police officers and state prosecutors.  

         Implementation according to Section 258 of the 2017 Constitution, that requires completion of police reform within one year, has been neglected throughout these years, and the government, especially its head – the Prime Minister, has been regularly reminded and demanded as well and created many negative results and impacts, including emergence of many gambling dens of all kinds which now contribute to spread of COVID-19 to nearly all over the country in its second wave/outbreak in Thailand, boldness of criminals in uniform, growth of corruption, inequality, and emergence of an untouchable, covert state hidden behind a public state institution.  No reform of police institution has also contributed to existence of human trafficking syndicates, drug trafficking rings, dealing of official position, and bribery culture, for example, that make Thailand appearing like a ‘Failed State’.  The twenty-year National Strategy should not be referred to anymore as it is a waste of time when the third wave, fourth wave and fifth wave of COVid-19 pandemic in Thailand would definitely occur.

         Union for Civil Liberty see that you – the Prime Minister – and concerned state mechanisms must be brave enough to break illicit influence/power of certain individuals and groups in the police circle, change and improve both structure and system of the institution up to international standards, based on national interest and benefits of the people at its center, in order that it becomes an institution that people could rely on according to recommendations of the civil society sector which has been waiting for nearly four years.

         So we wish to address this to you to bravely, urgently and immediately take actions to reform the police without any further delay.

                                                                                    Respectfully Yours,

                                                                                    (Mr. Nikorn Veesapen)
                                                                         Chairperson, Union for Civil Liberty