THAILAND: Rights of suspects under Martial Law must be respected; prohibition on visits by family must end

(4 September 2016) On 31 August 2016, at 13:30, four men suspected of crimes in Thailand’s Deep South were taken into custody (although they were usually called “invitees” and not “detainees” by the authorities). Three were subsequently released, though one, Mr. Manasae Zoroae, 26, continued to be held at Ranger Taskforce 43 inside the Ingkhayutthaborihan Military Camp, Pattani province.

On September 1, his relatives went to the military camp to visit him. At the visiting area at the front of the Ingkhayutthaborihan Military Camp, officials told them that the detainee was not held there. Upon their return home, they were informed that Mr. Manasae was being deprived of his liberty under Martial Law provisions, and although no visit to him was allowed they were told to come back and meet him on September 2. Given their abject poverty, they could not raise enough funds to make the trip possible on that day and they could only manage to travel back for the visit the day after.

On 3 September 2016, they went to see Mr. Manasae Zoroae at the Ingkhayutthaborihan Military Camp, but could not get to meet him. The concerned officials gave confusing information, from which they could not pin down his exact whereabouts. The family later confirmed that Mr. Manasae Zoroae was being held in custody at Ranger Taskforce 43. They informed the concerned officials of their intention to meet him at 15:00, but the officials told them that Mr. Manasae did not want to see his family. Later, they were allowed to meet via video, during which Mr. Manasae kept crying and weeping, telling them how much he missed his parents, who are 69 and 60 years of age.

According to the visiting guidelines posted at the Ingkhayutthaborihan Military Camp, there are basically three rules:
1. Grandparents, mothers, spouses, fathers or mothers-in-law, grandparents of the spouse, parents of the spouse, children, and siblings are allowed access to the person held from the first day of custody. 
2. Other relatives can visit after the first three days. Persons other than these must obtain permission from the Director of the Internal Security Operations Command (ISOC) Region 4, or the Director of the Bureau of Intelligence, ISOC Region 4 or the Director of the Bureau of Inquiry, Southern Border Provinces Police Operation Center (SBPPOC). 
3. Visiting time is every day, including public holidays (not longer than 30 minutes/day), from 09:00 – 10:00 and from 14:30 – 15:00.

It is clear that in this instance the visit to the suspect placed in custody under Martial Law has been denied, even though the criteria have been met. That access to Mr. Manasae Zoroae has been denied has caused grievances and grave concern for his parents, who care for the wellbeing of their loved one. By allowing the family to have access to the person being deprived of liberty, it would make people feel more confident in the work of the authorities and could ensure that there would be no human rights violations committed during detention and inquiry conducted by the authorities. Having access to family and relatives is one of the fundamental rights of a suspect and it should be respected by concerned agencies.

Therefore, in order to stem any controversies over the practice of the authorities, the Cross Cultural Foundation (CrCF), Duay Jai Group and the Pattani Human Rights Network urge that the authorities act according to the rules they had developed and explained to the relatives to keep them clearly informed as to where a person is being held in custody or where the person has been transferred to. This will help to increase confidence in the work of the authorities.

Duay Jai Group, 
Patani Human Rights Network 
Cross Cultural Foundation (CrCF)

UPDATE: After interventions by human rights groups, the detainee was able to meet his family on the afternoon of 4 September 2016. However, Duay Jai and CrCF remain concerned for his wellbeing, as well as other detainees in Thailand’s Deep South kept in similar conditions.


The views shared in this statement do not necessarily reflect that of the AHRC.