With the approach of new elections in the first half of 2023, there remain vestiges of the military government still led by coup-leader Gen. Prayut Chan-o-cha, who remains as Prime Minister. Prayuth’s lengthy prime ministership has given rise to disputes about his term of office under the constitution that the military junta wrote themselves.
Many of the ways the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) has used its power since eight years ago are still with us today and were never checked at the time by either the independent organizations or even the judiciary. This has led to questions about the acceptability of these agencies serving as tools for the coup-makers to exercise extra-legal power. For instance, the Court of Justice acknowledged the NCPO as having sovereign power, even though its power came through undemocratic means, and refused to accept a petition of insurrection, filed by the people themselves, into the court docket.
Given the free use of its power by the NCPO in an arbitrary way, when a group of not well-known people were arrested and detained by the security agencies, whether military or police, for “attitude adjustment”, their experience was unlike that activists or politicians whose names appeared on the TV Pool. They faced coercion and threats to make them confess in cases involving serious charges, such as premeditated murder or possession of weapons, in relation to violent political events, in some cases going back many years before the NCPO seized power. Many of these cases were eventually dismissed by the court.
In the cases where the courts’ ruled to dismiss the charges, the recurring reason was that the evidence which the security agencies believed could be used to convict the defendants had been obtained by problematic methods, including the use of statements from witnesses who were made to bargain in exchange for non-prosecution, and witnesses who gave conflicting statements in different trials even though they were state officials. Many cases relied solely on hearsay or circumstantial evidence.
This report has received support from Thai Lawyers for Human Rights (TLHR), who have been providing legal aid to those prosecuted for political cases since the NCPO era. TLHR has shared data of cases under the military government, when security forces brought cases related to violent political incidents dating back to 2010 using special laws, like Martial Law, announcements and orders issued on the authority of constitutions written by the military government themselves. People were arrested and interrogated in military camps before being transferred to both military courts and the courts of justice for prosecution.
Lengthy cases that seem to never end
If there is any problem that is demonstrated today by the cases related to political violence that began in the era of the NCPO, it is their duration. Some cases reached judgement only in 2022.
A number of cases in this group began in the military courts, as NCPO Order No. 57/2557 required putting security-related cases, including the use or possession of weapons (also applicable to drug cases where the defendants were in possession of weapons), royal defamation and sedition, under the jurisdiction of the military courts.
A case of a bomb thrown in front of the Criminal Court in March 2015, for example, initially began in a military court, before it was transferred to a criminal court for witness examination, after the NCPO issued an Order in 2019 revoking the use of military courts for civilian cases. The criminal court only passed a verdict on this case on 17 June 2022.
The cases that began in military courts were delayed for two main reasons.
First, hearings are not held continuously as in the courts of justice, where dates for witness examination are scheduled continuously over the course of a whole week. But in the military courts, dates for witness examination are scheduled after each session. In some weeks, there may be only one date scheduled for witness examination, before the next hearing is scheduled for the next week, the next two weeks, or even the next month at the latest. The court often claimed that the caseload exceeded the human and courtroom capacity (the Bangkok Military Court, for example, has five rooms), which is a problem civilian cases are transferred to military courts which normally are used to hear only cases related to military discipline.
Second, military prosecutors, the plaintiffs in these cases, were themselves unable to summon witnesses to testify before the court, which delayed hearings. This often occurred. with military or police witnesses responsible for the arrest and investigation claiming they were occupied with other official business or transferred to another unit, causing the witness summonses having to be re-sent. Civilian witnesses also claimed to be sick or occupied with business. The prosecutors did not change the order of witnesses, even though again and again, the original order of witnesses could not be used. Examples are police witnesses in the case of the bombing in front of the Criminal Court or the case of two Uyghurs accused of setting off explosives at the Ratchaprasong intersection. which had a problem of not being able to find an interpreter, causing delays in the examination of witnesses. The military court was able the hear only 23 out of 400 witnesses. Witness examination hearings are now still proceeding in the Bangkok South Criminal Court.
Adem Karadag (in prison uniform, front) and Yusufu Mieraili (in prison uniform, behind) during their trial at the Bangkok Military Court. Photo archive.
The statistics on postponement of witness examination hearings compiled by TLHR show that the case related to political violence with the highest number of postponements while such cases were heard in the military court was the bomb-throwing case in front of the Criminal Court, where 12 out of 42 scheduled hearings were postponed. It is followed by a related case (some defendants were in the first case as well), of hiring another person to throw a bomb at the court (10 out of 35 appointments postponed) and the case of RGD5 bomb possession (10 out of 25 appointments postponed).
On top of the frequent postponements, the total case number of days postponed can amount to years. The case of hiring another person to throw a bomb totaled 611 days (over 1 year and 8 months), the bomb-throwing case 502 days (over 1 year and 4 months), and the RGD5 case 480 days (over 1 year and 3 months).
Those two factors combined (as well as other minor factors, such as testimony being recorded by hand in the first hearings in the military courts) mean that almost no case of political violence involving a large number of witnesses could finish hearing witnesses before the next elections until when the NCPO issued an order in 2019 revoking prosecutions in the military courts and transferring the outstanding civilian cases to the courts of justice. In some cases, the public prosecutors in the civilian courts had to repeat the indictment process, postponing witness hearings to as late as 2020.
When Covid-19 broke out, the courts imposed measures which further delayed the trials in the courts of justice.
However, the problem of delays did not occur only in cases related to political violence that had large numbers of witnesses, but also cases of political rallies and online expression, such as Section 112 (royal defamation) cases and Section 116 (sedition) cases, which were also tried by military courts at that time.
Forensics officers examining the scene at the parking lot of the Ratchada Criminal Court on 7 March 2015.
The majority of these cases involved incidents before NCPO Order No. 57/2557 was announced, meaning that the accused had been indicted in the court of justice (even though the arrests were carried out under the NCPO’s authority), apart from the case of bombing in front of the Criminal Court. There were some cases where the incident happened before this Order but were tried in the military courts, as the accused were alleged to have weapons in their possession , which extended to the period after the announcement of this Order, which put them in the military courts. This included the case of bombing on Banthad Thong Road in which Charoen Phromchat and Nattaphan Lumbangla were accused of possession of 20 RGD5s.
The extended duration also resulted from additional cases being gradually added, such as the men in black case, where the same defendants were accused in another case with some of the same witnesses and evidence, or cases from other violent events, where the police or public prosecutors initiated a new case after one case was already being heard in the courts or where the court had just delivered a verdict. As a result, defendants were obliged to attend never-ending court appointments.
One Arrest, Multiple Cases
Kittisak Soomsri, aka Uan, one of the defendants in the men in black case, was accused in as many as seven cases related to the violence in 2010. He was not granted bail ever since his arrest in September 2014, until he was finally released temporarily in his 7th case at the end of November 2022. By then, he had spent eight years and two months in jail. His five previous cases had been dismissed by the court, and the first one, where he was accused of involvement with explosives found in an apartment in Raminthra, reached a final verdict as early as September 2017, with bail always refused by the court.
Kittisak Soomsri (sitting, far left) and other detainees in the men in black case.
In Kittisak’s cases, apart from the length of each case, he was also prosecuted in multiple cases. Some cases that came after the men in black case was filed and after other cases were being heard or had reached a verdict.
This happened not only to Kittisak, but to almost all cases related to political violence. The defendants involved were arrested for interrogation in a military camp and questioned about their links to many incidents of political violence. Then they were transferred to the police to create a case file for forwarding to the public prosecutor to bring charges in court. After that, while one case was being heard or when the court had issued a verdict, another prosecution would follow suit.
- Defendants in the case of an M79 fired at a PDRC protest on Ratchadamri were also accused of firing an M79 five times at a Chaeng Wattana rally. The Court divided the case into two.
- One of the defendants in the case of shooting at a PDRC protest in Trat was also separately accused of possessing the weapons used in this case.
- Four of the 14 defendants in the case of bombing in front of the Criminal Court were separately accused, along with two other defendants, of hiring another person to throw a bomb. One of the six defendants in this case was also charged with lèse majesté.
- The defendant in the case of throwing a bomb on Banthat Thong Road was also accused in a case of throwing bombs at the PDRC stage at the Victory Monument. Nattaphan Lumbangla, one of the defendants, was accused of possessing RGD5 grenades twice, once four grenades and at another time 20 grenades, and was tried in a military court.
- Kittisak Soomsri was additionally accused in two more men in black cases (the first had five defendants including Kittisak himself), and four other cases: one of possessing explosives (car bombs), and three of planting explosives in three locations in Bangkok (the Court merged all three into one trial).
The cases that followed on from core cases like these were usually dismissed by the court, including two cases related to the use of weapons of war at PDRC protests in various provinces and Chaeng Wattana, the case of the PDRC protest in Trat, the case of bombing the Criminal Court on 7 March 2015 where the court acquitted almost all defendants (12 out of 14), the case of commissioning a third person to throw a bomb, and the case of the bombing at the Victory Monument.
Photo from the case of shooting at a PDRC protest in Trat by Matichon
The reasons for the courts’ acquittals in these cases were of the same kind, that the prosecution did not have enough weight for a conviction and only relied on the defendants’ confession without other supporting evidence. Furthermore, there were cases where the investigating officers sometimes induced witnesses, such as in the case of the PDRC rally on Chaeng Wattana, to implicate others in exchange for not prosecuting them or getting defendants to incriminate themselves as in the case of the shooting at the PDRC stage in Trat. As a result, the witnesses and evidence used in these trials were inadequate to prove that the defendants were the actual perpetrators. That said, in these sequences of trials, apart from the problem of the evidence having no weight, another important problem has to do with the law itself, i.e. repeated prosecutions.
Repeated prosecution is prosecution for the same offence for which the court has already given a final judgment. Section 39 of the Criminal Procedure Code prohibits this kind of prosecution, but there is no check that the prosecution involves the same set of defendants and evidence and when the prosecution has sent the case to the court, the court accepts it for judgement. Even though the eventual result is that court may judge to dismiss the case because of legal problems, the defendants have already lost their supposed rights in the judicial process, whether the right to bail or the right to not be prosecuted twice for the same offence.
This can be seen in the men in black case, where a case on the charge of the possession of weapons and carrying weapons into an urban area was used first, and a prosecution for assaulting military officers on the night of 10 April 2010 then followed after the first case ended with the Supreme Court dismissing the cases because a military officer gave conflicting eye-witness testimony in the two cases. In the case of bomb-throwing at the Criminal Court, the court acquitted the four defendants who were also prosecuted in the case of commissioning a third person to throw a bomb on the grounds that it was a repeated prosecution.
In addition, the prosecution of defendants in one case after another did not only concern charges related to political violence, but also lèse majesté or royal defamation charges under Section 112 of the Criminal Code.
Nattathida Meewangpla being escorted out of the military court. Image: the Thai Lawyers for Human Rights.
One such case of that of Nattathida Meewangpla, aka Waen, a volunteer nurse and one of the six defendants in the case of commissioning a third party to throw bombs. As soon as she had been granted bail in this case, the police went to the prison to seize her on a charge of lèse majesté, even though this charge had already been investigated since her detention in a military camp, when no charges were pressed.
Nattathida gave an account of her lèse majesté case after she got bail in both cases. She said the military officer that interrogated her not only forced her to confess and threatened to harm her loved ones, but he also threatened her with a lèse majesté charge if she refused to withdraw as a witness in the case of the shooting and killing of six civilians at Pathum Wanaram Temple during the crackdown on the UDD protest on 19 May 2010.
However, Nattathida’s lèse majesté case only had screenshot images from the LINE application as evidence, which eventually led it to be dismissed by the court since the court believed that the origin of this evidence could not be proved. The alleged images were not found on her mobile phone that had been confiscated. Moreover, the witness in the case testified that he had not known her before and had not written the text.
Guilty as Charged
Nevertheless, some cases have led to conviction, such as two of the 14 defendants in the bombing case at the Criminal Court on 7 March 2015, since the two were arrested at the scene. But the Criminal Court found them guilty only of possession of explosives and attempted murder by throwing explosives and dismissed the charge of attempting to kill officials by shooting due to insufficient evidence and the only evidence was the statement of one soldier in the arresting unit, while the other witness, also a soldier, said that he was in hiding and only heard gun shots without knowing the direction.
There are some cases where the court gave a guilty verdict. The case of firing M79 grenades at Big C Ratchadamri in 2014 is one where the defendant was convicted by the Bangkok South Criminal Court and sentenced to death, later reduced to life imprisonment due to a confession at the inquiry stage. The court’s reason for reducing the sentence was that there was another pick-up truck similar to one belonging to the defendant in this case crossing the bridge over Pratunam intersection, which was the site of the firing, and the witnesses who were investigating officers at the military camp were all credible and had no reason to incriminate the defendants. Overlooking the arrest procedure and interrogation at a military camp, and the lack of rights to due process, the court instead chose to focus on the possibility of filing a complaint of forced confession against the investigating officers, when the military brought the defendant in front of the police and the press for a reenactment of the crime.
In other cases charges were dismissed which were related to causing trouble, but the defendants were sentenced for possessing weapons. An example is the case of Nattaphan Lumbangwa and Apichart Puangpetch accused of throwing a bomb on Banthat Thong Road. The Bangkok South Criminal Court dismissed the charge of causing an explosion due to the lack of eyewitnesses and the reliance on only hearsay evidence by the military officer conducting the inquiry. Instead, the court passed sentence on the charge of possessing explosives. The court instead believed that the defendants, while detained by the military, were able to lead officials to the site where the explosives were discarded.
In the case where the two defendants were charged with throwing a bomb at a PDRC protest at the Victory Monument, the Ratchada Criminal Court dismissed the charges of jointly committing murder and possessing explosives. In this case, the court also considered the accusation of torture since the prosecution and officials had not submitted a video of the interrogation in question as evidence and had no witnesses mentioned in the case file to testify. There was only the testimony of the accused. Also, the prosecution had only the witnesses and DNA evidence linked to Kritsada Chaikae, who was accused as the sole perpetrator, but was unable to prove that the two defendants were related to Kritsada. The court also believed that the charge of possession of explosives overlapped with the case at Banthat Thong Road.
Nattaphan was accused along with Charoen Phromchat in two other cases in a military court. In the first, the military court sentenced them to a jail term of 10 years on the charge of possession of four explosives. In the other case, where Natthaphan and Charoen were accused of possessing 20 explosives, after the case was transferred to a civilian court, the Ratchada Criminal Court acquitted them because of insufficient evidence in the case of Charoen and in the case of Nattaphan the prosecution overlapped with the Banthat Thong explosives case.
Persuasion, Intimidation, and Assault
“The military brought me to be detained under martial law. I do not know for sure where I was detained because I was blindfolded the entire time. … During detention under martial law, I was asked about the bombing at the Criminal Court many times. On the way to interrogation and during the interrogation itself, I was blindfolded and handcuffed the entire time. During the interrogation on around 10 – 11 March 2015, the authorities threatened me and physically abused me to force me to confess that I was involved in this incident. But I refused. They punched me in the abdomen and chest area around the pit of the stomach and rib cage as well as stomping on my body, and punching and slapping me on the head and chest dozens of times, causing me pain in the chest and rib cage area. I was also forced to remove my pants and received more than 30 electric shocks on the outer part of my right thigh.”
Wounds on Sansern Sriounreun
Sansern Sriounreun, another defendant in the case of the bombing of the Criminal Court, gave the above account in an appeal written in prison for submission to the investigating officer, so that he could compile evidence related to torture that occurred during military detention after he showed the bruises and cigarette burns on his body to the lawyer who was monitoring his case in the military court, on the day the investigating officer received Sansern from the military in order to seek his detention in the military court.
Sansern’s case is the clearest picture of the investigation process in military bases, as he was one of the few accused whom lawyers could access before marks of injury disappeared. In addition to Sansern, other defendants in this case have also complained that they were physically abused and threatened during the interrogation. These defendants had been arrested merely because the authorities spread the charges by claiming information that they were in the same LINE group as the two defendants who threw the bomb.
The problem that all of them shared is that they were in a vacuum, with no contact with family or friends, making it difficult to track where they were detained. Also, the state did not count the interrogations in military bases as a part of the procedure under the Code of Criminal Procedure (though the evidence collected was admitted in court). The detainees were denied their right to having a lawyer present during the interrogation. All of these factors increase the risk of forced confessions through threats and/or physical abuse.
Pawinee Chumsri, a TLHR lawyer, has spoken on the problems related to the evidence used by the state, saying that the state merely relies on the information provided by the officials in monitoring, arresting and prosecuting cases. However, when asked to identify who was the source of the information or what agency they were in, official witnesses refused to reveal the identity of the sources or even the method used to obtain the evidence for an arrest, which makes it difficult to check what evidence the officials are using consisted of and whether it was sufficient to make an arrest and prosecute a case.
In addition, the authorities relied solely on information obtained from questioning one detainee first to make more arrests. The same method was also used by officials to compile additional evidence to implicate the detainee himself. The authorities claimed that the accused had confessed, but it could equally be said that he had testified against himself too, as the interrogation that produced such information took place in a military base with no right to contact a lawyer.
Persuading witnesses to incriminate the accused in the cases already mentioned occurred in the case of bombing the PDRC stage on Chaeng Wattana. One of the key witnesses summoned by the authorities to testify was Yongyuth Boondee (aka Daeng Chin Jung), a red shirt who had been a political activist since 2010. He was arrested by the military under martial law in July 2014 while working as a construction worker at Chiang Mai University and detained at the 11th Military Police Battalion. He was prosecuted in three cases based on a confession made during his detention at the military base. So far, the court has already dismissed one case due to insufficient evidence, passed an prison sentence in another case based on the confession without the opportunity to mount a defense, while the third case of bombing the NACC and the Government Lottery Office, has gone quiet.
But in the case of the Chaeng Wattana bombing, he was treated as an eyewitness who joined in the crime with the other defendants with five counts altogether, which were filed in two separate cases. the Ratchada Criminal Court dismissed all charges, reasoning that his testimony was not credible as he was “persuaded” to confess. He also testified in the examination process that he was an accomplice himself, but became only a witness in both cases. Therefore, it was believed that he had really been persuaded to do so in exchange for not being prosecuted and when he testified as a prosecution witness, he still said that he had been physically abused by military officers while in detention.
However, not long after the court had given its verdict for both cases of bombing a PDRC stage on Chaeng Wattana, Yongyuth was quickly prosecuted for the bombing of the NACC and the Government Lottery Office. Even though he had been given bail while waiting for the public prosecutor’s order and had attended all appointments with the public prosecutor, a few days before New Year 2021, he was again arrested by commandos from the Crime Suppression Division on the charge of bombing of PDRC stage on Chaeng Wattana .
At a press conference, the police also said that Yongyuth had arrest warrants waiting for him in six other cases.
Why did this occur to these people over and over again? It was as if the justice system had no checking system on their own operations to prevent repeated prosecutions. In some cases the courts acquitted the defendants, in some cases they passed sentences even though the testimony of the defendants was the same, such as confiscated weapons, and even though the military personnel used as witnesses gave conflicting testimony to the court in the two cases.
Accountability but no accountability
“The witnesses that were soldiers, especially Gen. Wicharn Jodtaeng, at that time clearly testified to the court. You claimed that you exercised power under martial law, meaning that such power has been exempted from the Constitution and the Criminal Procedural Code, correct? This has not been ruled on by the court. But in your testimony, you said plainly claim you had looked into martial law, which allowed you to detain these groups. There is no need to appoint a lawyer or question them. If you want to question them, you question; if you want to interrogate them, you interrogate. And in the process, before you went to interrogate them, you tied them up with cable ties, you covered their heads with a black cloth or bag. All of this happened in every case that was reported to us in our legal work. I don’t understand either why they need to blindfold them or cover their head. They sometimes even physically abused the detainees while their head was covered”.
Winyat Chartmontree, one of the lawyers from the United Lawyers for Rights & Liberty, talked about the legal problems faced while providing legal aid to the defendants in the men in black case as well as other cases related to political violence in 2014 – 2015, including the case of throwing a bomb at the Criminal Court. He explained that it has never been scrutinized in court proceedings from the beginning up to the Supreme Court, whether the evidence used in these cases had been obtained lawfully or not.
“When compared to the arrest records in criminal cases, are they equal or inferior or superior, and to what extent? They have become documents outside the law and process. So are the methods outside the law too? The court has never ruled on this”.
Winyat points out that this problem has a law that governs the use of such evidence which says that even though Section 226/3 of the Code of Criminal Procedure specifies that the court must not allow oral evidence, Paragraph (1) and 2 provides exceptions if the status or source of such evidence can be proved, and Paragraph (2) specifies “necessity”. This justifies the admission of the interrogation records obtained during military detention as evidence in court.
The lawyer in the men in black case also sees that this problem could even open an avenue for torture or forced confession. The process from the stage of police investigation had always recognized evidence derived from procedures under special laws, such as martial law, which arose before the cases were transferred to the procedures under the Code of Criminal Procedure, with a lack of overnight by personnel in the justice system, like the police, public prosecutors, and courts.
Pawinee, a lawyer in the case of throwing a bomb at the Criminal Court, which started in a military court and ended in a civilian court also points out the long-standing problems arising from the transfer of case files from the military courts to the civilian courts, after civilian cases were removed from the military courts.
The TLHR lawyer finds that the Courts of Justice have never examined the processes since the arrest up to trial in a military court. It simply accepted the case files and just proceeded with the parts over which they had authority. When the announcements or orders of the NCPO which ordered the transfer of cases did not allow for scrutiny, it was held that what had been done was finished without going back to review the procedures in the military courts. For instance, the military courts prohibited making photocopies of documents, even though this is a legal right, and they were needed by the defense lawyers to fight the cases. But the Court of Justice merely issued a new order permitting it.
“Actually, there should have been a retroactive examination to what extent the procedures of the military courts were fair. That is my opinion since we urged them to stop using the military courts. We proposed that the cases in the military courts should be looked at to see which cases were not necessary and should be dropped altogether. For the cases that were criminal cases, we must look whether the procedures were legitimate or not. Should we start over or if the procedure had already been legitimate, carry on? But when the cases were transferred, it seems everything was transferred,” said Pawinee.
Oversight Mechanisms that in fact are Unusable
There are two ways to investigate detention and torture in Thailand. The first is to file a petition to the court requesting it to examine alleged unlawful detention under Section 90 of the Code of Criminal Procedure.
Section 90 of the Code of Criminal Procedure is there to allow investigation of an unlawful detention. This Section allows the detainee him/herself, a public prosecutor, an investigating officer, a corrections official, as well as the detainee’s family to file a petition to the court to begin an ‘urgent’ investigation procedure. If the court thinks the petition has merit, the court shall summon the detaining agency to testify before the court about the detention and to bring the detainee to appear before the court. If the court deems that the detention is unlawful, the court has the authority to order the detainee to be released.
However, using this procedure has proven to be difficult. In practice, detainees do not usually know their where they are or to which unit the officials belong. They have only a rough idea that the officials are from a military unit under the command of the NCPO.
The TLHR lawyer said that in the past this procedure has never been utilized in the cases related to political violence because it was usually a while before the detention became known only when the accused were handed over to the investigating officer, but there have been similar experiences in cases of political expression Pawinee said that in using Section 90, when the petition is submitted to the court, the court does not immediately convene an examination of the petition. So many times, the officials have already released the detainees or transferred them to the police. The court therefore cancels the examination, so arrests and detentions that have already occurred are not examined. In the case of the eight admins of the satirical Facebook page “We Love Gen Prayuth”, who the military detained in a military camp, when the petition was submitted to the court, the military handed them over to the police. So at that time, there was no order or judgment to be used as a norm for making the power of the state accountable, even though according to the procedure, the court should have summoned the detainees to appear before the court in order to see the conditions of detention.
A Justice System that Only Creates More Victims
All cases of political violence have victims. Some have been injured, some have even been killed. Property has been lost. But many cases have been dismissed because of problems caused by the evidence presented by the state in support of the charges. Some cases where the court passed sentence are dubious. In some cases it is clear that the defendants have become victims. This has raised the questions: will they all receive justice? is there still a solution to this problem?
“I think it may be possible, but it must come from a genuinely democratic government, which truly represents the people that have voted for it. I also think that there are efforts by political representatives and representatives of people in society to propose ideas on how to arrange or deliver justice over things that happened during the NCPO era or even before. However, this cannot happen under this regime. For this to happen, state mechanisms must work together. And in order for them to work and think together, the policy of the executive must point in that direction. But the executive will not see it as a problem while we still have the same government. But if we have a government that is a people’s democracy, I think they will definitely deal with the NCPO legacy. The symbol of the NCPO legacy is the affected people who have been injured or killed or prosecuted unfairly. I think it can happen in the future,” Pawinee, TLHR lawyer, expressed her hopes for the future.
Nevertheless, TLHR believes what is likely to happen is that there will be example cases. But it is still difficult to charge all state officials because in some cases, we have clear evidence of rights abuses by state officials which can be used to prosecute the officials who were directly involved or trace those who gave the orders, but in others, the evidence is not as clear or the officials who committed the crimes have already passed away.
Pawinee suggests that to compensate the victims of violence, the state still has the obligation to prosecute and punish the perpetrators using a human rights-based approach. But it must be clear that the state’s use of shortcut judicial processes, such as using martial law or military rule, instead of providing justice to the victims, has created even more victims or people who have not received justice. And there is no end to the problem because the defendants see the courts as unfair. Until they are acquitted, they still have spent several years in jail or appearing in court. The victims of violence ask who are the real criminals.
“What the state has done, to put it simply, shows that there is no sincerity in giving justice to the victims. So at the end of the day, it comes back to the fact that we need to create a truly efficient justice system. There is no shortcut. It must truly follow the evidence. Is it adequate or not? I think that way, the victims and other people will see more sincerity about solving the problems”.