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Press briefing notes on Thailand

for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights: Ravina Shamdasani
Location: Geneva
Date: 5 August 2014

We have been very concerned by the methods of arrest and detention of politicians, activists, academics and journalists following the military coup in Thailand in May this year.

Since 22 May 2014, more than 700 individuals have been summoned and arrested by the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO). While most of them were released within a week in accordance with martial law, an unverified number of people were detained for more than seven days without access to lawyers and their families. We have been concerned that incommunicado detention creates the environment for possible human rights abuses, including torture and ill-treatment.

The case of Kritsuda Khunasen, a student activist who was working for a key member of the Red Shirts group, which supports the deposed Government, has given further cause for serious concern.

In testimony shared with the media and human rights organizations on 2 August, Khunasen described her treatment and conditions of detention from 28 May to 24 June 2014 while she was military custody. She claims that she was blindfolded for 7 days, beaten several times and lost consciousness after a plastic bag was placed over her head.

On 16 July, the High Commissioner raised her concerns with the Thai authorities on due process and transparency in the case, including the lack of information on Khunasen’s whereabouts and her well-being during the arbitrary detention. Prior to this, on 11 June, the High Commissioner communicated with the Thai authorities, emphasising that any emergency measures must comply with international human rights standards, including the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights to which Thailand is party. She stressed that the right to life and the prohibition against torture cannot be breached, regardless of the circumstances. Thus far, no substantive feedback from the authorities has been received on these concerns.

Thai authorities should immediately conduct an independent and detailed investigation into the alleged torture of Kritsuda Khunasen, and - if verified - bring the perpetrators to justice. Under international law and under UN policy, amnesties are impermissible if they prevent prosecution of individuals who may be criminally responsible for gross violations of human rights, including torture.

ENDS
For more information or media requests, please contact Ravina Shamdasani (+41 22 917 9169 /rshamdasani@ohchr.org) or Cécile Pouilly (+41 22 917 93 10 / cpouilly@ohchr.org)

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