OPEN LETTER – CSOs demand the House of Representatives to immediately pass the anti-torture and enforced disappearance bill after the Senate review.
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 as listed below, come to an agreement that the bill, which passed its third reading from the Senate, has not been amended in principle the version passed from the House of Representatives’ version. The Senate has uphold the intent 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).
However, there are concerned of some amendments liked : 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, nevertheless has reaffirmed 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.
Consequently, we urge the members of the House of Representatives to considerably pass the Draft Prevention and Suppression of Torture and Enforced Disappearance Act B.E….., that approved by the Senate and will be returned to the House of Representatives, in order to commence as a law as soon as possible. As if in case of any disagreement, a joint committee will has to be established between the Senate and the House of Representatives. And this will delay the law to be passed into effect as it will not be able to make it in time of 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 like to reaffirm 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 uplevel the progress of Thailand’s human rights situation to the global recognition.