UPDATE (Thailand): Hundreds released from army detention prevented from going home


Urgent Appeal Case: UP-143-2007
ISSUES: Arbitrary arrest & detention, Judicial system, Refugees, IDPs & Asylum seekers, Rule of law, State of emergency & martial law,

Dear friends,

The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) is concerned that although over 300 men have been allowed to go free from a number of army camps in the south of Thailand after court orders that they cannot be detained against their will, the army is refusing to let them to return to their homes.


As the AHRC has already reported (AHRC-PL-048-2007), on 30 October 2007 three courts in southern Thailand–at Surat Thani, Chumpon and Ranong–ordered that over 300 men brought for “vocational training” at army camps in those provinces could not be held against their will.

The men were all brought from areas to the further south where there is ongoing civil conflict. They were alleged to be insurgent suspects from a sweep that the security forces conducted in the middle of the year (UG-005-2007); however, the army had no firm evidence against them with which to lodge criminal cases and so it instead brought them to camps on the pretext of giving occupational training and re-education.

On October 5, relatives of over 80 detainees brought cases to the three courts after many had applied to be able to visit their homes but were refused.

In their findings, the courts didn’t say that the army had done anything illegal, but said that it had no grounds to hold the men against their will (see commentary at UPI Asia Online).

So far 180 have left the camps, and others are reportedly planning to leave in the coming days, despite various attempts by the military to prevent them from doing so.

However, they have been staying in Surat Thani rather than going home because their names are on a list issued on 22 July 2007, about a month after the operation began, under an announcement of the regional army commander that 399 persons would be prohibited from entering the provinces of Yala, Pattani, Narathiwat and Songkhla for up to six months.

Human rights defenders, lawyers and others in Thailand have questioned the order, which although under martial law provisions does not give any reasons for the decision, or indicate why the persons named have been targetted.

Today, November 2, human rights lawyer Somchai Homlaor and Angkhana Neelaphaijit, the chairperson of the Thailand-based Working Group on Justice for Peace went with ten villagers to lodge an appeal against the army prohibition with the justice committee of the interim legislative assembly.


Mass arrests and detentions in army facilities followed by attempts at identifying–through the use of military personnel–the innocence or guilt of detained persons as in this case amounts to a gross violation of fundamental human rights from which no derogation is permitted, even at times of emergency. Many United Nations experts have written on this in detail, including the UN Special Rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers in his 2007 report.

The emergency regulations over the southern provinces were introduced by the former prime minister to protect security officials there from prosecution. The UN Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial killings has commented that they enable army and police personnel to “get away with murder”. The regulations have greatly inflamed the violence in the south since they were introduced over two years ago. They were recently renewed for the tenth time.

For full details on the decree and violence in the south visit: http://thailand.ahrchk.net/edecree

Please write to the concerned authorities to call for these persons to be allowed to return to their homes and for an inquiry into the vocational training camp programme. Please also demand that the government of Thailand lift the Emergency Decree on the southern provinces without delay.

To support this case, please click here: SEND APPEAL LETTER


Dear ________,

THAILAND: Army order prohibiting vocational trainees from returning home violates international law

I am writing to express my concern at an announcement issued by General Viroj Buacharoon, commander of the Fourth Army Region (southern Thailand) dated 22 July 2007 prohibiting 399 persons from entering or residing in the provinces of Yala, Pattani, Narathiwat and Songkhla for six months from that date or until the order is rescinded.

Although the announcement was issued under Martial Law sections 8 and 11(7), it gave no indication of the reasons that these persons, all of whom are listed as residents of the four provinces, are being prohibited from their homes. There are also no criteria given to indicate how the list was drawn up or how the names of these persons in particular came to be on it.

I draw your attention to article 12(1) of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Thailand is a party, to the effect that, “Everyone lawfully within the territory of a State shall, within that territory, have the right to liberty of movement and freedom to choose his residence.” It seems self-evident to me that this order is a violation of this important section of international law.

I acknowledge that article 12(1) is a part of the covenant from which derogation may be permitted at time of public emergency as per article 4(1), but point out that this can only be done “to the extent strictly required by the exigencies of the situation”. Again, there is no evidence upon which it may be concluded that it is strictly required to prevent these men from going to those provinces as the army has not indicated how it identified them in particular and what criteria were used to make the lists, or what risk they would pose if they were allowed to return to their hometowns.

Thus, the 22 July 2007 order must be considered as a violation of the covenant unless shown otherwise. I urge that it be revoked and that these persons be allowed to move freely within their own country.

I also take this opportunity to call for an independent inquiry into the establishing and running of vocational training camps in Surat Thani, Chumpon and Ranong provinces where over 300 of the persons on the list of those prohibited from the southern provinces were held until provincial courts ordered on October 30 that the army could not keep them against their will and outside of any law. I have many concerns about how it was possible for the military to hold these persons in those camps in the first place, let alone keep them even when they obviously did not want to stay. I trust that the government of Thailand too will be interested to obtain answers to these questions, and hope that the concerned agencies will be keen to take action to get them.

Finally, I also call on the government of Thailand not to continue renewing the Emergency Decree over the southern provinces. The decree has only resulted in further bloodshed and lasting distrust of the government and damage to its institutions in the south, and as this case illustrates, has encouraged increasingly arbitrary and legally dubious activities among state officers there, including military officers at the highest levels. Until such a time as it is lifted there cannot and will not be an end to the incidence of violence and abuses that continue to plague the region.

Yours sincerely,



1. General Surayud Chulanont
Interim Prime Minister
c/o Government House
Pitsanulok Road, Dusit District
Bangkok 10300
Tel: +662 280 1404/ 3000
Fax: +662 282 8631/ 280 1589/ 629 8213
E-mail: spokesman@thaigov.go.th

2. General Sonthi Boonyaratglin
Interim Deputy Prime Minister
c/o Government House
Pitsanulok Road, Dusit District
Bangkok 10300
Tel: +662 280 1404/ 3000
Fax: +662 282 8631/ 280 1589/ 629 8213
E-mail: spokesman@thaigov.go.th

3. Mr. Charnchai Likitjitta
Interim Minister of Justice
Office of the Ministry of Justice
Ministry of Justice Building
22nd Floor Software Park Building,
Chaeng Wattana Road
Nonthaburi 11120
Tel: +662 502 6776/ 8223
Fax: +662 502 6699/ 6734 / 6884
Email: om@moj.go.th

4. Mr. Aree Wongaraya
Interim Minister of Interior
Office of the Ministry of Interior
Atsadang Road
Bangkok 10200
Tel: +662 224-6320/ 6341
Fax: +662 226 4371/ 222 8866
Email: om@moi.go.th

5. Pol. Gen. Seripisuth Themiyavet
Royal Thai Police
1st Bldg, 7th Floor
Rama I, Patumwan
Bkk 10330
Fax: +66 2 251 5956/ 205 3738/ 255 1975-8
E-mail: feedback@police.go.th

6. Lt. Gen. Viroj Buacharoon
Fourth Army Area
Sirinthon Camp, Khaotoom
Yarang, Pattani 94160
Tel: +66 73 262 598
Fax: +66 73 262 572

7. Mr. Pranai Suwanarat
Southern Border Province Administrative Center (SBPAC)
Yala Provincial Office
Muang District, Yala 95000
Tel/Fax: +66 073 203 802

8. Mr. Chaikasem Nitisiri
Attorney General
Office of the Attorney General
Lukmuang Building
Nahuppei Road
Prabraromrachawang, Pranakorn
Bangkok 10200
Tel: +662 224 1563/ 222 8121-30
Fax: +662 224 0162/ 1448/ 221 0858
E-mail: ag@ago.go.th or oag@ago.go.th

9. Prof. Saneh Chamarik
National Human Rights Commission of Thailand
422 Phya Thai Road
Pathum Wan District
Bangkok 10300
Tel: +662 219 2980
Fax: +662 219 2940
E-mail: commission@nhrc.or.th

10. Mr. Homayoun Alizadeh
Regional Representative for Asia-Pacific of OHCHR
UN Secretariat Building, 6th Fl., Room A-601
Rajdamnern Nok Ave.
Bangkok 10200,
Tel: +662 288 1496
Fax: +662 288 3009

11. Ms. Leila Zerrougui
UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention
1211 Geneva 10

12. Mr. Leandro Despouy
Special Rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers
Room: 3-060
1211 Geneva 10
Tel: +41 22 917 9160

Thank you.

Urgent Appeals Programme
Asian Human Rights Commission (ua@ahrchk.org)