UPDATE (Thailand): Torture cases transferred to special investigators, but police still free


Urgent Appeal Case: UP-78-2004
ISSUES: Torture,

Dear friends,

The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) is pleased to announce that the two cases of torture and cruel and inhuman treatment recently reported as having occurred in Lumpini (Bangkok) and Ayutthaya police stations (UA-153-2004) have been transferred to the Department of Special Investigation (DSI). The DSI is headed by a police officer, but is under the authority of the ministry of justice, and is therefore less subject to police influence in undertaking its investigations. However, to date to our knowledge no formal charges have been brought against the alleged torturers.

According to the information received, on November 29 the Minister of Justice, Mr Pongthep Thepkanjana, chaired a meeting of the special cases committee. During the meeting he instructed the police to transfer the case of cruel and inhuman treatment of Mr Chol Narapinit and Mr Siri-on Changluadlai at Lumpini Police Station and Mr Ekkawat Srimanta at Phra Nakhon Si Ayutthaya Police Station to the DSI. He explained that although the National Counter Corruption Commission (NCCC) had been given the cases, it would make the public more comfortable if they were in the hands of the DSI. He said that after the cases were transferred, special teams would be formed to conduct inquiries together with the public prosecutor. This is a new measure recently proposed for some cases to take total control for investigations out of the hands of the police.

During the meeting, the committee also discussed the case of Mr Charoen Wat-aksorn (UA-76-2004 and UP-40-2004), a prominent environmentalist shot as he stepped off a bus in June, in which summons are still to be issued. However, no discussion was made into the case of the missing human rights lawyer Mr Somchai Neelaphaijit (FA-06-2004). This is despite earlier assertions by the minister that progress is being made into the inquiry (UP-61-2004).


The remarks by the minister in the meeting indicate that public pressure against police torturers in Thailand is having an effect. Without this, these cases would have remained in the hands of the police, who would have sought to absolve their colleagues of wrongdoing.

The two cases from Lumpini and Ayutthaya stations are particularly important because they are early test cases for the new witness protection and investigation programmes in Thailand. If the cases against the police are not successful, and if the accused persons are still subjected to threats and other abuses, it will damage public confidence in these new measures very much. As confidence in the police is already at an all-time low in Thailand, it is important that the ministry of justice play a very active role in dealing with criminal police officers.

At the same time as this is happening, the prime minister of Thailand proposed introducing a national security law that would give the police greatly expanded powers (AS-57-2004). With extended powers of detention, torture and other gross abuses of human rights would increase dramatically in police stations of Thailand. However, after strong public outcry, the government backed down from the suggestion, saying that the five existing laws for dealing with national security are sufficient.


Please write to the minister expressing appreciation for the transfer of these cases to the DSI but expressing concern that the accused police be arrested and charged as quickly as possible, particularly in light of the ample evidence in both cases. Please also stress that the chiefs and their deputies in the police stations concerned is held responsible for the actions of their subordinates. Finally, please urge the government of Thailand to ratify the Convention against Torture and introduce it into domestic law without delay,



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Dear Mr Pongthep

RE: Investigations into recent cases of torture and cruel and inhuman treatment and punishment and proposal for the introduction of a national security law into Thailand

I am pleased to hear that you instructed on November 29 that the Royal Thai Police transfer investigation of the case of cruel and inhuman treatment of Mr Chol Narapinit and Mr Siri-on Changluadlai at Lumpini Police Station and Mr Ekkawat Srimanta at Phra Nakhon Si Ayutthaya Police Station to the Department of Special Investigation. I am also pleased to hear that the subsequent inquiries will be conducted jointly with the Office of the Attorney General.

I trust that the investigations will be completed speedily and charges will be laid against the perpetrators without unnecessary delay. I am also concerned that action be taken against the superintendents and deputy superintendents of the stations concerned, without whose knowledge these gross abuses of human rights could not have occurred.

However, I am disappointed to have not heard anything further of the progress of investigations into the case of missing human rights lawyer MR Somchai Neelaphaijit, despite earlier assertions from you that action was being taken into his case. I trust that his case will also be at the top of the agenda in further discussions undertaken by the special cases committee.

Finally, I urge Thailand to ratify the UN Convention against Torture and introduce it into the domestic law at the nearest possible date, particularly in view of the fact that the Constitution of Thailand itself prohibits torture.

Yours sincerely,



Mr Pongthep Thepkanjana
Minister of Justice
Office of the Ministry of Justice
Ministry of Justice Building
22nd Floor
Chaeng Wattana Road
Pakkred, Nonthaburi
Bangkok 11120
Tel: +66 2 502 6776/ 8223
Fax: +662 502 6699/ 6734/ 6884


1. Dr Thaksin Shinawatra
Prime Minister
Government House
Pissanulok Road, Dusit District
Bangkok 10300
Tel: +662 280 1404/ 3000
Fax: +662 282 8631/ 280 1589/ 629 8213
Email: thaksin@thaigov.go.th, govspkman@mozart.inet.co.th

2. Dr Bhokin Bhalakula
Minister of Interior
Office of the Ministry of Interior
Thanon Atsadang
Bangkok 10200
Tel: +662 224-6320/ 6341
Fax: +662 226-4371/ 222 8866
Email: webteam@moi.go.th

3. Pol. Gen. Kowit Wattana
Royal Thai Police
1st Bldg, 7th Floor
Rama I , Patumwan,
Bangkok 10330
Tel. +662 205-1313/ 205-220/ 205-1840-9
Fax: +662 251-5956/ 205 3738/ 255 1975-8

4. Professor Saneh Chamarik
National Human Rights Commission of Thailand
422 Phya Thai Road
Pathurn Wan District
Bangkok 10300
Fax: +66 2 219 2940
Email: commission@nhrc.or.th

5. Professor Manfred Nowak
Special Rapporteur on the Question of Torture
Attn: Mr. Safir Sayed
1211 Geneva 10
Tel: +41 22 917 9230
Fax: +41 22 917 9006/ 9016/ 9018
E-mail: ssyed@ohchr.org

Thank you.

Urgent Appeals Programme
Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC)

Document Type : Urgent Appeal Update
Document ID : UP-78-2004
Countries : Thailand,
Issues : Torture,