Auttasit Nussa, a protester allegedly beaten in custody following a Din Daeng protest, staged a one-man demonstration in front of the police headquarters on Saturday (2 July), after no progress has been made in the investigation into his assault.
Auttasit standing in front of the police headquarters on Saturday (2 July)
Auttasit was arrested on 29 October 2021, along with another protester named Weeraphab Wongsaman, as people went to the police station to hold a candlelight vigil for Warit Somnoi, a 15-year-old boy shot by an unidentified party in front of the police station on the night of 16 August 2021. Warit died on 28 October 2021 after spending 2 months in a coma at Rajavithi Hospital’s intensive care unit.
Auttasit said that he and another protester were taken into Din Daeng Police Station and were beaten as the police tried to extract information from him which he said he did not know, and that the police told him that if he died during the beatings, they would make his death look like an accident.
He then filed a complaint at Din Daeng Police Station, and then with the Department of Special Investigation (DSI) in November 2021. On 12 January 2022, he went to give testimony. He was also asked to give information to a sub-committee consisting of representatives from the Institute of Forensic Medicine; the Rights and Liberties Protection Department, and the DSI, a complex process that, according to the Cross-Cultural Foundation, has delayed the investigation. He was also denied access to CCTV footage of the incident or the results of the medical examination he was given before being released. The officers he accuses of beating him remain on duty and there is no indication that an internal disciplinary investigation committee has been established.
On 22 June, Auttasit received a letter from the Sub-Committee on Torture and Enforced Disappearance of the Ministry of Justice informing him that they have closed the investigation as the assault does not constitute torture under the United Nations Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (UNCAT) since it was not done to obtain a confession and because Auttasit did not suffer any major injury.
On Saturday afternoon (2 July), Auttasit was seen standing alone in front of the police headquarters on Rama 1 Road holding a sign in English saying “I’m a Victim of Torture by Thai Police.” After an hour, several police officers came to talk to him and invited him into the headquarters for a conversation.
Auttasit told Prachatai that the police asked him what complaint he has. He said he told them that he filed a complaint a long time ago and asked them why he has to come ask them for progress himself and why he was not notified of progress in his case. He also said that the police invited him into the headquarters and told him that they will forward his complaint to their superiors. He then left the police headquarters.
Auttasit said that he went to the police headquarters because he wanted the police to speed up the investigation into his assault, because he filed the complaint 7 months ago, but no progress has been made. He also wanted the police to tell him why they are working so slowly and if there is any problem.
He also said that because he heard that the anti-torture and enforced disappearance bill has been delayed, he wanted to show his support for the bill and to call for the bill to be passed as soon as possible since it will benefit everyone.
Auttasit said that he wrote his sign in English because he wanted the world to know, noting that he would also write in Chinese if he knew the language.
When asked about the result of the investigation he received from the Sub-Committee on Torture and Enforced Disappearance of the Ministry of Justice, Auttasit said he disagreed with the sub-committee’s ruling, since following a definition too strictly would create a loophole for law enforcement to hurt people as long as they are not trying to force a confession.
“It would mean that, if the police bring anyone in and beat them for 1 day, 2 days, 3 days, without asking them anything, then it’s not torture because they are not asking for information. They’re just beating them for fun, or just holding them and beating them, not torture. So we have to re-define what obtaining a confession means,” Auttasit said.
“Does it count if they’re asking you this, that and the other? Does it count if they beat you for several days without trying to get you to confess? We need new definitions.”
Auttasit said he was told by a DSI official that he could submit a petition if he disagrees with the Sub-Committee, and said that while he is concerned that his case will not get anywhere, he will file a petition with the DSI to tell them that their definition might not be correct.
“Simply, you just have to strictly follow the system, then nothing would happen, because the system does not tell you to torture people. It means that you did not follow the system,” said Auttasit, who said he will keep coming back to stand in front of the police headquarters until he receives justice.