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The UN rights agency and the National Human Rights Commission of Thailand (NHRC) have pointed out that an increasing use of DNA tests to combat the Deep South insurgency may constitute racial discrimination against Muslims.

The Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination under the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) on Monday, 29 June 2015, released a communication which was made to the Thai government regarding the collection of DNA samples from persons suspected of involvement in Muslim insurgent groups in the restive southern border provinces.

The UN letter to the Thai government pointed out that security officers in the three southern border provinces of Yala, Pattani, and Narathiwat have increasingly used arbitrary DNA sample collection as a way to counter the southern unrest.  

The UN said that it received a report that on 3 April 2015, officers from the Royal Thai Army 16th Special Task Force together with police from Mueang Yala Police Station, and members of the Yala Volunteer Defence Corps conducted a search of the Seletan Cultural Centre, aka BUMI, and attempted to conduct a search of the offices of the Association of Women for Peace in Southern Border Provinces, aka PERWANI, in the province.

The report alleged that security officers intimidated eight male high school students who were members of BUMI and forced the students to sign a document giving their consent to providing DNA samples.

It is also reported that in 2012 security officers collected DNA samples from Malay Muslims from the southern border provinces for reasons connected to their ethnicity.

According to the UN letter, the arbitrary collection of DNA samples and the intimidation of the Muslim population in southern Thailand, if verified, amount to racial discrimination and are against the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (ICEAFRD).

“The Committee is particularly concerned about the reported collection of DNA samples from young people without adequate prior consultation or their explanation,” stated the UN letter.  

The UN requested the Thai government to respond to the communication on 31 October 2015.

Similar to the UN, the National Human Rights Commission of Thailand (NHRC) on 20 April 2015 issued a report on the use of DNA tests on Muslim people in the region.

The report pointed out that although the Thai Criminal Procedure Code and martial law imposed in the three restive southern provinces give security officers the authority to collect evidence of insurgent suspects if deemed necessary, the procedures by which DNA samples are usually obtained are derogatory to human rights and the dignity of individuals.

“The sub-committee of the NHRC in the southern border provinces sees that the authorities can only perform searches on the outer physical features, but the examination and collection of DNA samples of certain age-group populations [the youth] cannot be done because it violates human rights,” stated the NHRC report.

According to Reuters, the police chief in the southern border provinces told the media that DNA samples of more than 40,000 people in the region have now been collected to facilitate the arrest and prosecution of southern insurgent suspects.

The Muslim Attorney Centre (MAC) in Pattani Province stated that the number of security-related charges this year will exceed that of 2014 because 22 people were already charged in the first four months of 2015, partially as a result of the use of DNA evidence, Reuters reported.

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