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After more than a decade of deliberation, it is critical that the proposed law criminalising torture and enforced disappearance in Thailand meet international human rights standards to ensure both prevention and justice for these heinous crimes, the UN Human Rights Office for South-East Asia said today (17 July). 

The approval of the draft legislation by the Thai Cabinet is an important step, but the approved draft lacks essential international principles including the absolute prohibition of torture and non-refoulement – both non-derogable rights in international law. The definitions of the crimes in the proposed law are also not in line with international standards.

“A domestic law can provide effective judicial recourse to the victims and families if it is compliant with the Convention against Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CAT) and the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance (ICPPED),” said Cynthia Veliko, South-East Asia Regional Representative for the UN Human Rights Office in Bangkok.

Thailand has taken important steps to prevent torture through the ratification of CAT in 2007 and on disappearances by signing ICPPED in 2012. The draft domestic law is the long-awaited, necessary element to ensure that Thailand is in a position to fulfil its obligations as a State Party to CAT and provide the required enabling context for ratification and effective implementation of ICPPED.

“Significant time and resources have been expended over the years to finalize this bill and the deficiencies in the previous and current versions of the draft law have been routinely highlighted by civil society and International Human Rights Mechanisms,” Veliko said. “Thailand’s willingness to enact a bill into law that fully incorporates the principles enshrined in international human rights law would show its commitment to zero tolerance of torture and enforced disappearance as well as justice for victims of these crimes.”

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