Thai parliament passes anti-torture and enforced disappearance law

The draft Prevention and Suppression of Torture and Enforced Disappearance Act, with its 34 sections, was finally passed on Wednesday (August 24) and will become effective in 4 months, following several years of delay.

Originally rejected by the post-coup National Legislative Assembly, the bill was again submitted to the House of Representatives in 2021 and has now been passed into law.

Senator Kamnoon Sidhisamarn explained that the main principle of this law is to prevent and suppress torture and the enforced disappearance of suspects during detention.

In Thailand, news of torture to secure confessions and disappearances have featured regularly in the media, including the disappearance of Mr. Porlajee “Billy” Rakchongcharoen, a well-known Karen community leader and environmental activist in Phetchaburi, and the case of a former Thai police officer convicted of murder, after torturing a drug suspect to death during an interrogation.

The previous lack of appropriate legislation was contrary to Thailand being a participant in the UN’s Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment since 2007 and the country’s signing of the International Convention on the Protection of All Persons from Forced Disappearance in 2012.

Under this new law, torture and enforced disappearance are defined as criminal offenses. It also provides means for the prosecution of government officials for such wrongdoings and protects civil servants who perform their duties in good faith.

Mr. Kamnoon reiterated that extensive discussions were held in senate meetings, to ensure that the main principal of public benefit was maintained and that the law in line with conventions to which Thailand is a signatory.


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