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The Thai police chief has filed criminal defamation charges against speakers at a discussion critical of the police force.

On 14 February 2017, Pol Gen Chakthip Chaijinda, Commissioner-General of the Royal Thai Police (RTP), authorized Pol Col Worawit Yanchinda, Acting Superintendent of the Directorate of Metropolitan Police Bureau, to file a legal complaint against Sungsidh Piriyarangsan, Dean of the College of Social Innovation of Rangsit University, and Pol Col Virut Sirisawatdibut, former Deputy Commander of Chainat provincial police.

The police chief alleged that the two defamed the RTP at a public discussion “What is the Use of the Police?” held at Queen Sirikit National Convention Centre, Bangkok, on 26 January.

In response to the accusation, Sungsidh said that the discussion was held in order to allow people to express their opinions about the police freely in order to improve the performance of the police force.

Recently, reports of people wrongfully convicted have revived debates about reform of the RTP.

The ruling junta announced in 2014 that police reform was one of its top priorities. After almost three years, however, no concrete steps have been taken.

According to Police Watch (PW), a civil society group campaigning for police reform, decentralisation is the key to police reform.  

The group stated that the administrative authority of the police should be decentralised to the provincial level in order to cut bureaucratic red tape, increasing the efficiency of the police work.

More radically, they suggested that an independent interrogation department should be established under the Ministry of Justice to interrogate suspects of crimes instead of the police.

A public discussion “What is the Use of the Police?” held at Queen Sirikit National Convention Centre, Bangkok, on January 26 (Photo from Anti-Corruption Thailand Facebook page)

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