Demanding Rule of Law Respect in the Treatment of Offenders


It appeared widely in the mainstream media and further propagated by online social media a story of an out of government service police officer who boasted about his experiences using firearms while doing his job of crime suppression with decisiveness and violence, telling his stories in full of emotion and pride that when he had been a police officer on duty used gun to kill persons suspected of criminal wrongdoing, influential figures and gunmen, as these persons could be ‘hunted’ and ‘murdered’, claiming that he had received orders and appointed by his commander to be the head of a unit in the operation to ‘hit’ persons who could be harmful to society in the 24 provinces of Thailand’s Central Region instead of making arrests to bring them into the justice system.

Union for Civil Liberty (UCL) and human rights organizations whose names appear at the end of this statement wish to express our concern and anxiety about the propagation of this story by the media and uses of firearms by police officers who have the authority to enforce laws in this context because of the following reasons:

  1. Everybody has the right to life as recognized in the Universal Declaration on Human Rights and International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights that Thailand is obliged to observe, and also in the Constitution of the Kingdom of Thailand and the Criminal Code. Not any government official has authority as approved by law to violate these rights arbitrarily or act as a ‘kangaroo court’ by killing, murdering or hurting any person, including those suspected or accused of being a criminal, except those whose case was fairly tried by the court of justice who issued a final verdict.
  2. Purposes of the United Nations’ Basic Principles on the Use of Force and Firearms by Law Enforcement Officials[1] are to take into consideration safety of officials, so that they can enforce laws in the parts related to the justice system, protect the right to life and freedom of personal security, and emphasize qualifications, training and practices of officials who have authority to enforce the law. In brief, these principles state that in unavoidable cases, uses of firearms must be limited to an appropriate necessary extent according to seriousness of the situation, and in special cases, officials with legal authority would use firearms to prevent harms to themselves, or protect other persons from approaching harms, or to prevent serious crimes that are harmful to life, or to arrest persons who are going to cause harms to life, fight to hinder the officials. Using firearms by officials then does not mean giving permission to officials to fire offenders “to die” and does not mean giving permission to officials with authority to “shoot away” persons accused of committing serious offending arbitrarily at all.
  3. Communication to the public that firearms are used to “hunt to take life”, or giving opinion that although a case may be expired by law, its age of resentment is not, or while being in government service, the official had killed tens of criminals, or use the word “bastard” to call persons accused of offending, are therefore against the Basic Principles and are contempt to persons killed by officials without adjudication by court that the persons are offenders and also to their family. Such saying in the media can make the society understand that officials with authority to use firearms would treat offenders with whatever means of violence without having to bring them into the justice system which is very dangerous in cultivating the society to get use to uses of violence in the treatment of offenders which may make some people and officials to misunderstand, confused and favor violence which is clearly against the principle of rights in the justice system and the rule of law.

Because of these reasons, UCL and human rights organizations whose names appear at the end of this statement therefore demand the mass media, the government and agencies with authority to use force and firearms by law to take actions as follows:

  1. The mass media should have ethics not to present news and information to the society that makes it understand that use of firearms by state officials to kill offenders is something that should be done. The mass media should not unfold and emphasize the value of violence, but should instead make the society understand about officials’ treatment of offenders according to the pattern of law that is to bring them into the justice system and do not support prosecution or use of “kangaroo court” against any person.
  2. Officials with authority to use force and firearms should always realize that every human life has right to life and body, and human dignity. Use of firearms that may lead to extrajudicial killing is only done to protect themselves or other persons to avoid approaching harm.  Officials who use firearms have no authority to commit extrajudicial killing against any person as it is considered to be a serious crime done by state officials which is unacceptable.
  3. The government and law enforcement agencies must arrange that officials who use force and firearms must be selected and screened from persons with moral and conscience with physical and mental readiness. They must be trained and tested on use of force and firearms up to required standards with special training for police officers about ethics and human rights, particularly for crime control.
  4. The government and law enforcement agencies must develop tools and train officials to have skills to use alternatives instead of use of force and firearms, including conflict resolution with techniques for negotiation, bargaining, mediation and use of peaceful means as well.
  5. The government and law enforcement agencies must have measures to strictly check operation of law enforcement officials who use firearms. They must have no policy to promote and incite officials to take action out of the legal system, and must seriously punish officials and commanders who neglect to comply.
  6. Service providers of all platforms of online social media must check information with violent content as it creates not only hatred but also cultivates use of violence in society with no end.

With belief in human dignity, human rights and the Rule of Law

Stated on 4th March 2024


  1. Union for Civil Liberty (UCL)
  2. Cross Cultural Foundation
  3. Human Rights Lawyers Association
  4. Foundation for Human Rights and Development
  5. Peace and Culture Foundation
  6. Human Rights Promotion and Protection Foundation
  7. Friends of Women Foundation

[1] Endorsed by the Eighth United Nations Congress on the Prevention of Crime and the Treatment of Offenders, Havana, Cuba, 27 August to 7 September 1990