Thailand: Lawyers across Asia denounce the postponement of Anti-Torture law

30 August, 2022, Bangkok,Thailand: Pro-democracy people gather in front of the Central World shopping mall and walk to Siam square to campaign on International Day of the Disappeared ©Shutterstock

Bangkok-Geneva, January 13, 2023 - The Thai government recently announced its recent law against Torture and Enforced Disappearance would only come into force on 22 February 2023, 120 days after its publication. Lawyers denounce a worrying delay in the implementation of such a crucial law.

The passage of the Anti-Torture Act has been viewed as a rare display of political unity in which parliamentarians from across the governing and opposition ranks in a nearly unanimous vote - 363 out of the 365 MPs present – approved the law

During a forum in December 2022, held by the Cross-Cultural Foundation, the Union for Civil Liberty (UCL) and the Human Rights Lawyers Association (HRLA), Pol. Col. Wirut Sirisawatdibuth, Advisor to the Extraordinary committee drafting the Anti-torture and Enforced Disappearance Act strongly supported the passage of the law and categorically stated that the Act is an extraordinary achievement that will lead to police reforms.

Thus, we are utterly dismayed and alarmed by the recent statement from Pol. Gen. Damrongsak Kittipraphat, Commissioner General of the Royal Thai Police, in his letter to the Minister of Justice calling for the delay in the implementation of this crucial law based on budgetary concerns, lack of guidelines and capacity of the police to implement such a law.

The passage of the Anti-Torture and Enforced Disappearance Act is a long-overdue obligation under the UN Convention against Torture and the UN Convention on the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance. The new law is a substantive act that promotes and protects the public from torture and other forms of human rights violations, which in most cases are perpetrated by state agents. According to the United Nations Committee against Torture, ill-treatment by the police, the military and prison officials is widespread with a de facto impunity of acts of torture.

Members of the Asia Litigators Group, a group comprised of lawyers who litigate on behalf of torture victims, strongly urge the Thai government to continue to ensure that all systems and processes necessary to fully implement the law are rigorously considered and addressed, rather than utilize the situation as an excuse to delay the performance of their mandate to protect the public from torture and enforced disappearance.

Members of the Asia Litigators Group are: Advocacy Forum Nepal, Citizens Against Hate; Cross Cultural Foundation Thailand; Human Rights Organisation of Nepal (HURON); Human Rights Alert Manipur; Human Rights Office Kandy; Justice Project Pakistan; KontraS; Odhikar; Philippine Alliance of Human Rights Advocates(PAHRA); Kumarapperuma Arachige Upul Indika Center for Strategic Litigation Kyrgyzstan; Women in Struggle for Empowerment (WISE); World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT).

For more information, please contact:

Claire-Marie Germain, OMCT Digital Communications Manager

Pornpen Khongkachonkiet, Cross Cultural Foundation Director