Law against enforced disappearance, torture published in Royal Gazette, takes effect after 120 days
Thailand’s first act to outlaw torture and enforced disappearance has been published in the Royal Gazette and will take effect after 120 days.
The Prevention and Suppression of Torture and Enforced Disappearance Act was published in the Royal Gazette on Tuesday, more than a year after the House of Representatives passed the first reading of the bill on September 16 last year.
The act was signed by His Majesty the King on Monday and was countersigned by Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha.
It was stated in the principle of the act that it was enacted in accordance with Section 26 of the Constitution of the Kingdom of Thailand.
Section 26 of the charter reads: “The enactment of a law resulting in the restriction of rights or liberties of a person shall be in accordance with the conditions provided by the Constitution. In a case where the Constitution does not provide the conditions thereon, such law shall not be contrary to the rule of law, shall not unreasonably impose a burden on or restrict the rights or liberties of a person and shall not affect the human dignity of a person, and the justification and necessity for the restriction of the rights and liberties shall also be specified.”
Among other sections, Section 5 of the Prevention and Suppression of Torture and Enforced Disappearance Act states that if state officials carry out physical and mental torture, they will be deemed as committing a crime. Torture for the following purposes will be considered a crime:
- To obtain information or confessions from tortured persons or third-party persons
- To punish the tortured persons because of their own acts or third-party persons’s acts
- To intimidate the tortured persons or third-party persons
- To discriminate against tortured persons.
Section 6 of the act states that if state officials commit acts apart from what is stated in Section 5 and if the acts are cruel and inhumane and harm the human dignity, the offiicials will be deemed to be committing cruel and inhuman actions and abusing human dignity.
Section 7 states that if state officials kidnap anyone or carry out enforced disappearance, the officials will be regarded as committing the crime continually from the disappearance date until the fate of the victims are known.
The act states in Section 35 that violators of Section 5 will be subject to a fine between 100,000 to 300,000 baht and a jail term between 5 to 15 years if the victims are not severely injured or killed.
If the victims are severely injured, violators of Section 5 will be liable to a fine between 200,000 to 500,000 and a jail term from 10 to 25 years.
If the victims are killed, violators of Section 5 will be subject to 15 to 30 years imprisonment and a fine of 300,000 to one million baht.
Section 36 of the act states that violators of Section 6 will be subject to a maximum jail term of three years and or a fine of 60,000.
Section 37 of the act states that violators of Section 7 would be subject to 5 to 15 years imprisonment and a fine of between 100,000 to 300,000 baht.
If the victims are severely injured, the jail term would be increased to 10 to 15 years and fine to 200,000 to 500,000 baht.
But if the victims are killed, the jail term would be raised to 15 to 30 years and fine to 300,000 to one million baht.
Torture and enforced disappearance have long been problems in Thailand. Most of the reported cases have not been resolved, and hardly anyone has been punished, Human Rights Watch has said.
Since 1980, the UN Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances has recorded 82 cases of enforced disappearance in Thailand, including the prominent Muslim lawyer Somchai Neelapaijit in March 2004. The actual number could be higher, as some families of victims and witnesses have remained silent, fearing reprisals if they speak, Human Rights Watch added.