THA 001 / 0912 / OBS 084
Arbitrary arrest and detention
September 21, 2012
The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a joint programme of the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) and the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT), requests your urgent intervention in the following situation in Thailand.
Description of the situation:
The Observatory has been informed by reliable sources of the arrest and detention under the Martial Law of Mr. Thammarat Aliartae, a Malayu Thai human rights defender in Yala province in southern Thailand.
According to the information received, on September 20, 2012, at approximately 7.00pm, soldiers from Yala Task Force 11, a special unit of the Thai army, arrested Mr. Aliartae near his house at the Old Market in Yala town. At the time of writing, he was detained in a military base operated by Yala Task Force 11 in Muang district in Yala and was denied access to his lawyer from his arrest until approximately 9.00am on September 21, when his lawyer finally gained access to him. Task Force 11 reportedly did not inform Mr. Aliartae or his lawyer of the reason for his arrest.
Five days before his arrest, on September 15, 2012, Mr. Aliartae, along with current and former defendants in security-related cases and their families, submitted complaint letters to and met with officials from the Southern Border Province Administrative Center (SBPAC). At this meeting, Mr. Aliartae requested Pol. Col. Tawee Sodsong, the Director General of SBPAC, to ensure people’s equal access to justice. He also asked SBPAC to provide protection to defendants released on bail or those already acquitted by the court in security-related cases because these persons had been harassed, intimidated and sometimes subjected to physical violence by security forces and unidentified persons. After the SBPAC meeting, Mr. Aliartae gave interviews to Thai-language media and his comments were published online.
The meeting followed three recent fatal shootings of current or former defendants in security-related cases in the southern border provinces. The incident occurred on July 26, 2012, when Mr. Abduloh Jaetimae was shot dead by unidentified gunmen in Tambon Yaha, Yala province. Mr. Jaetimae had been arrested and prosecuted in 2006 for his alleged involvement in planting a bomb in a bank; after spending three years in detention pending the outcome of his trial, he was acquitted and released in 2010.
Mr. Aliartae is a schoolteacher in Yala town, Yala province. In 2007, Mr. Aliartae, then a university student, was arrested along with six others under the special security laws and accused of being involved in a bombing in Yala. He reported having been ill treated while in detention. He was later released on bail in 2010, but his trial has not been concluded and the charges against him still stand. Mr. Aliartae has since been advocating for the rights of persons affected by the implementation of special security laws (the Martial Law, the Emergency Decree, and the Internal Security Act), and by abuses perpetrated by State security forces in the southern border provinces.
Mr. Aliartae has also been active in supporting the families of those detained under the special security laws. In August 2012, Mr. Aliartae wrote a letter to the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) when it considered Thailand’s combined 1st to 3rd periodic reports. The letter asked CERD to take actions to address the violence and abuses affecting populations in the southern border provinces, especially Malayu Thais.
In its Concluding Observations on August 31, 2012, CERD expressed its serious concern “at the discriminatory impact of the application of the special laws in force in the Southern Border Provinces, including reports of identity checks and arrests carried out on the basis of racial profiling, as well as reports of torture and enforced disappearance of Malayu Thais. The Committee is further concerned at the risk of serious human rights violations in the enforcement of these laws as well as at the absence of a mechanism of oversight of their application”.
The formulation and application of Thailand’s broadly worded special security laws, including the Martial Law, Emergency Decree, and Internal Security Act (ISA), are not consistent with international human rights law and standards, including the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), to which Thailand is a State party.
Under the 1914 Martial Law Act, a person can be detained without a warrant for interrogation purposes up to seven days, without recourse to judicial review. The Emergency Decree gives the Prime Minister the power to authorise a “competent official” to arrest and detain a person for seven days, extendable to up to 30 days in total on the condition that extensions are authorised by the courts. However, the Emergency Decree does not explicitly guarantee the right of detainees to be brought promptly before a judge in order to determine the legality and necessity of detention, as guaranteed under Article 9.3 of the ICCPR. Both the Martial Law and the Emergence Decree are concurrently enforced in Yala province, and a person can be held in custody up to 37 days without charge. Prolonged detention without charge in unofficial detention facilities significantly increases the risks of torture and ill-treatment.
These draconian laws provide for exceptional and discretionary arrest and detention powers to State officials, especially the military, and allow them to wield these powers without adequate oversight by the judiciary or other independent bodies. The application of these laws has often failed to meet the strict tests of legality, necessity and proportionality. Their imposition in Narathiwat, Pattani, Yala and several districts in Songkla provinces has also failed to contribute to building peace and security in those areas. Since July 2012, the security situation in the Deep South has markedly deteriorated and there has been a spate of violent incidents that resulted in a number of deaths and injuries, including of civilians, security forces and suspected insurgents.
Please write to the Thai authorities and ask them to:
i. Release Mr. Thammarat Aliartae immediately and unconditionally as his detention is arbitrary since it only aims at sanctioning his human rights activities and put an end to all acts of harassment – including at the judicial level – against him;
ii. Guarantee in all circumstances the physical and psychological integrity of Mr. Aliartae and all human rights defenders and their organisations in Thailand;
iii. Conform with the provisions of the Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, adopted on December 9, 1998 by the United Nations General Assembly, and in particular :
Article 1, which states that “everyone has the right, individually or in association with others, to promote the protection and realization of human rights and fundamental freedoms at the national and international levels”,
and Article 12.2 which provides that “the State shall take all necessary measures to ensure the protection by the competent authorities of everyone, individually and in association with others, against any violence, threats, retaliation, de facto or de jure adverse discrimination, pressure or any other arbitrary action as a consequence of his or her legitimate exercise of the rights referred to in the present Declaration”.
iv. Ensure in all circumstances respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms in accordance with international human rights standards and international instruments ratified by Thailand.
Ms. Yingluck Shinawatra, Prime Minister of Thailand, c/o Government House, Pitsanulok Road, Dusit District, Bangkok 10300, THAILAND, Fax: +66 2 280 0858 / +66 2 288 4016, Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Mr. Yongyuth Wichaidit, Minister of Interior, Office of the Ministry of Interior, Atsadang Road, Ratchabophit Pranakorn, Bangkok 10200, THAILAND, Fax: +66 2 226 4371/ 222 8866, Tel: +66 2 224 6320/ 6341, E-mail: email@example.com
Pol Gen Pracha Promnok, Minister of Justice, Office of the Ministry of Justice, Ministry of Justice Building, 22nd Floor Software Park Building, Chaeng Wattana Road, Pakkred Nonthaburi 11120, THAILAND, Fax: +662 502 6699/ 6734 / 6884, Tel: +662 502 6776/8223, E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Mr. Surapong Towijakchaikul, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Office of the Minister of Foreign Affair, 443 Sri Ayudhya Road, Bangkok 10400, THAILAND, Fax: +662 643 5318, Tel: +662 643 5333, E-mail: email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com
National Human Rights Commission of Thailand, 422 Phya Thai Road, Panthum Wan District, Bangkok 10300, THAILAND, Fax: +622 219 2940
Attorney General, Office of the Attorney General, Lukmuang Building, Nahuppei Road, Prabraromrachawang, Pranakorn, Bangkok 10200, THAILAND, Fax: +662 224 0162 / 1448 / 221 0858, Email: firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com
Permanent Mission of Thailand to the United Nations in Geneva, rue Gustave Moynier 5, 1202 Geneva, Switzerland, Tel: + 41 22 715 10 10; Fax: + 41 22 715 10 00 / 10 02; Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Embassy of Thailand in Brussels, 2 Sq. du Val de la Cambre, 1050 Ixelles, Belgium, Tel: + 32 2 640.68.10; Fax : + 32 2 .648.30.66. Email: email@example.com
Please also write to the diplomatic representations of Thailand in your respective countries.
Paris-Geneva, September 21, 2012