By PIYANUCH THAMNUKASETCHAI
THE SUNDAY NATION
THE Justice Ministry has pledged to work closely with Amnesty International to stop torture at the hands of officials and gave an assurance that Thailand aimed to put an end to such practices.
Ministry spokesman and deputy permanent secretary Tawatchai Thaikyo said the ministry invited representatives from the human rights agency to discuss the situation regarding torture in the Kingdom.
Amnesty recently published the report on cases of torture at the hands of the military and police, titled “Make Him Speak by Tomorrow: Torture and Other Ill-Treatment in Thailand”.
“We have talked about the progress of Thai government toward the prevention and suppression of torture to Amnesty International representatives, as we want to show that the government is serious about tackling this issue,” Tawatchai said. “The clear efforts of the Thai government to mitigate this problem can be seen from its ratification of the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, and right now we are also drafting the Torture and Forced Disappearance Prevention and Suppression Bill.”
Tawatchai said Thailand has already taken measures to prevent torture, such as training staff in related agencies about the Convention against Torture. He said the Criminal Code also had a provision about torture.
“We emphasise that the Justice Ministry is an ally of Amnesty International and we will work together to protect the human rights for all citizens,” he said.
Meanwhile, it was reported that Amnesty International had expressed its gratitude to the Justice Ministry and Rights and Liberties Protection Department for inviting them to discuss the issue and announced that the report, which highlighted 74 cases of torture by Thai officials, was intended to disclose the reality, specify the reason for torture, and provide suggestions to end the cruel practice.
Amnesty also said it was not its intention to discredit or criticise the Thai government with this report, but rather to give real information and advice to prevent torture in Thailand.
Tawatchai said that after the discussion Amnesty said it would work side by side with the Rights and Liberties Protection Department to help officials solve the torture problem using elements of human resources development, academic research and improving understanding among justice agencies. This official move from the Justice Ministry came after a controversy over claims that the government was trying to ban the Amnesty International report.
On Wednesday, Amnesty sought to publicise its report at a press conference in Bangkok, but the event was cancelled after officers from the Labour Ministry and police carried out a raid and warned that foreign speakers would be arrested.
The officers told organisers that holding the event would be a violation of Alien Working Act, as all speakers did not have a work permit in Thailand.