Junta Urged to Investigate Torture Claims

 | Wed 6 Aug 2014 21:04 ICT

CityNews – Human rights groups have urged the junta to carry out a full and independent investigation into the alleged torture of a red-shirt activist in military custody earlier this year.

Red-shirt activist Kritsuda Khunasen at the offices of the Crime Suppression Division in June. Photo: Prachathai.

Kritsuda Khunasen told reporters and human rights organisations that she was blindfolded for seven days, beaten several times and lost consciousness after a plastic bag was placed over her head while being held in detention from May 28 to June 24.

“Thai authorities should immediately conduct an independent and detailed investigation into the alleged torture of Kritsuda Khunasen, and – if verified – bring the perpetrators to justice,” a spokesman for the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (UNHCR) said in a statement.

“Under international law and under UN policy, amnesties are impermissible if they prevent prosecution of individuals who may be criminally responsible for gross violations of human rights, including torture.”

The UNHCR says more than 700 people have been summoned and arrested since the May 22 coup.

“While most of them were released within a week in accordance with martial law, an unverified number of people were detained for more than seven days without access to lawyers and their families. We have been concerned that incommunicado detention creates the environment for possible human rights abuses, including torture and ill-treatment,” the statement said.

The fate of other detainees remains a concern for rights groups. Soldiers took Dachai Uchukosolkarn, leader of the Phalang Prathet Thai Party, from his home in Lampang province on July 30, and he remains unaccounted for, according to reports.

Two other human rights groups have joined the calls for an impartial investigation into Kritsuda’s allegations.

“The Thai junta’s alleged torture of a detained activist is further cause for alarm that rights protections are not on the military’s agenda,” said Brad Adams, Asia director of Human Rights Watch. “Only by promptly investigating Kritsuda’s allegations and prosecuting those responsible can the junta undo its knee-jerk denial of her serious charges.”

The International Commission of Jurists said that if the allegations are substantiated, Kritsuda’s case would be “the first confirmed case of torture since the military coup, and would fly in the face of the National Council for Peace and Order’s public statements that there has been no torture since it took power.”

Kritsuda has reportedly fled to Europe and is planning to apply for asylum in a European country.