Thailand: Unprecedented platform for dialogue to implement safeguards to prevent torture

Friday, February 7, 2020

The APT achieved new milestones in Thailand last year, in bridging the efforts of the Ministry of Justice Rights and Liberty Protection Department, Payap University’s Human Rights Centre, and national NGOs, by convening a series of activities in Chiangmai in December. These included a drafting retreat with members of the national Subcommittee on Suppression of Torture and Enforced Disappearance, in support of the development of an anti-torture Handbook for authorities; and a public forum on the “Rights of Person in Custody” at Payap University, which provided an unprecedented platform for dialogue between NGO leaders from Bangkok and Patani and the local community in Chiangmai.

In December 2019, the APT was in Chiangmai to broaden the outreach of its safeguards project in Thailand. Objectives included fostering a new partnership and synergies with Payap University’s Human Rights Centre (the Centre), and raising awareness about how safeguards prevent torture among the Payap University students, lecturers, and civil society and community representatives in Chiangmai.

The APT and the Ministry of Justice Rights and Liberty Protection Department (RLPD) jointly facilitated a retreat for members of the national Subcommittee on Suppression of Torture and Enforced Disappearance, which focused on developing a Handbook on the prevention of torture and enforced disappearances for law enforcement and other authorities. Around 20 representatives from government ministries, the National Human Rights Commission, and law enforcement agencies attended the one and a half day retreat in Chiangmai. Dr. Christa Crawford, the Chair of the Centre, was invited to act as a resource person for the retreat, signalling a welcome step forward in connecting experts across Chiangmai and Bangkok. The APT was also invited by RLPD to observe a public hearing and consultations with local authorities and civil society on the draft anti-torture and enforced disappearance bill. The bill is expected to be further deliberated and considered by Parliament for adoption in 2020.

To commemorate the International Human Rights Day (December 10), the Centre and the APT co-organized a three-hour public forum entitled “Rights of Persons under Custody”, which highlighted torture prevention work carried out by the International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) and the leading local NGO Duay Jay in Thailand. For the first time, participants were able to learn more about the work of Anchana Heemmina (Duay Jay), Sanhawan Srisod (ICJ), and the APT on the ground. This forum presented “an excellent opportunity to shed light on the work of human rights defenders in the Deep South, especially in supporting torture victims and families,” as highlighted by Ms. Heemmina during the event.

“Our project has yet again shown how it can bridge different voice and actions across Thailand. This is the key ingredient to cultivate a real change”, concluded Shazeera Ahmad Zawawi, APT Programme Officer, in her closing statement during the forum.