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UN HumanRights Office welcomes Thailand decision to criminalize torture, enforced disappearances

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The UN Human Rights Office for South-East Asia (OHCHR) welcomes the decision by the Thai Government to enacta law to criminalize torture and enforced disappearances, and to ratify the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance.

“These decisionsby the Government are positive steps toward meeting international human rights standards, and we urge the National Legislative Assembly to pass the torture and enforced disappearance law as a matter of priority,” said OHCHR’s Acting Regional Representative, Laurent Meillan.

“For toolong, there has been no accountability on cases of torture and involuntary and enforced disappearances due to the lack of legislative framework. But when this bill goes through, torture and enforced disappearance, will finally be criminalized and victims and families will be able to pursue legal redress. Perpetrators of such heinous crimes can be prosecuted.”

The United NationsWorking Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances has 82 outstanding cases of enforced disappearances in Thailand.

The draft law provides penalties for government officials whocommit torture of up to 20 years in prison, 30 years if the torture leads to serious injury, and life imprisonment if the torture results in death.Officials who commit enforced disappearance face up to 20 years in prison, up to 30 years if the enforced disappearance leads to serious injury, and life imprisonment if death results.

As a furthermeans to safeguard detainees from torture, the regional UN Human Rights Office urges the Government to allow the National Human Rights Commission of Thailand to independently monitor all places of detention.

OHCHR alsocalls on the Thai Government to promptly fulfill its commitment to ratify the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture (OP-CAT), which will allow for the establishment of the National Preventive Mechanism to undertake regular visits to places such as detention centres, prisons and similar facilities. D uringthe Universal Periodic Review (UPR) of Thailand’s human rights record in Geneva earlier this month, Thailand said it planned to submit the OP-CAT treaty to the cabinet for ratification.

Thailandratified the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment in 2007.