Thailand Legal Rights

As part of a general policy to reduce the number of illegal immigrants and overstayers in the country, Bangkok immigration police sometimes arrested and detained asylum-seekers and refugees, including women and children. As of August, some 320 refugees and asylum-seekers were living in internal detention centres. In addition, 50 Uighurs have been detained in the country since 2015. The police reportedly ill-treated many people in police custody. On August 5, a video showed seven Mueang Nakhon Sawan police officers allegedly torturing and suffocating a masked suspect, later identified as 24-year-old Chiraphong Thanapat. Police reportedly interrogated the victim to extort a bribe of two million baht ($61,000). The chairman of the Thai Bar Council office in Nakhon Sawan said police arrested the victim for preliminary questioning immediately after her arrest, although she did not yet have the legal right to be represented by a lawyer. The OPP ordered an investigation; The seven officers allegedly involved in the incident were taken into custody in August (see Section 4). On 4 May, Somsak Onchuenjit, a lawyer and land rights activist, was shot dead by armed men at a rubber plantation in Amphoe Wang Wiset, Trang province. On 18 May, police arrested three suspects, including the mayor of Tambon Wanwiset, Charinrat Krutthirat, who was later released on bail. The case had been pending before the prosecutor`s office since September. This document is intended to give you basic information on how the Thai criminal justice system works. It does not replace legal advice that can only be provided by a licensed lawyer in Thailand.

It should also be read in conjunction with the Handbook for Canadians Imprisoned Abroad. Under the law, the government can impose a maximum prison sentence of five years and a substantial fine if false content is posted online that undermines public safety, causes public panic, or harms others, based on vague definitions. The law also requires internet service providers to retain all user data for 90 days in case authorities wish to access it. Any service provider who consents to the publication of illegal content or intentionally supports it is also subject to prosecution. By law, authorities must obtain a court order to ban a website, although officials have not always complied with this requirement. Media activists criticized the law, saying it defined crimes too broadly and that some penalties were too harsh. While NGOs have acknowledged a decline in the most severe forms of labour exploitation in the fishing sector, exploitation reports and indicators of forced labour have continued to increase, and the number of crew members missing at sea has continued to rise. Some NGOs noted that inconsistencies persist in the application of labour laws, in particular irregular or late payment of wages, illegal wage deductions, illegal recruitment fees, withholding of documents, and the absence of written contracts in a language that workers understand (see section 7.e). In ordinary criminal courts, accused persons enjoy a wide range of legal rights, including access to a lawyer of their choice, prompt and detailed information on the charges against them, the free assistance of an interpreter, the right to attend the trial if necessary, and the right to reasonable time and facilities to prepare their defence.

They also have the right not to be compelled to testify or confess guilt, to confront witnesses, to present witnesses and to appeal. The authorities did not always automatically provide impoverished defendants with a lawyer at state expense, and it was alleged that the authorities did not grant defendants all the above-mentioned rights, particularly in small or remote provinces. Petty corruption and bribes were widespread among police officers, who had to buy their own uniforms and weapons. In July, media and activists criticised the announcement that all charges against Vorayit`s “boss”, Yoovidhya, heir to the Red Bull drinks company, who beat and killed a policeman with his Ferrari in 2012, had been dropped. Prime Minister Prayut ordered an investigation into the case, which found that corruption and conspiracy between police and prosecutors likely helped Yoovidhya avoid prosecution. In August, a new arrest warrant was issued for Yoovidhya for reckless driving resulting in death, failure to assist a victim after an accident, and drug abuse, and police announced charges against 21 police officers accused of mishandling the case. The NACC also conducted a survey. In December, the Attorney General`s Office announced that the prosecutor`s office would not be able to pursue drug charges against Yoovidhya until police arrested and brought him to justice. Some government-backed civil defense volunteers received basic training and weapons from the security forces. Human rights organizations continued to express concern about the vigilant justice of these defense volunteers and other civilians. The law allows ordinary detainees access to a lawyer in civilian and military courts, but lawyers and human rights groups said police sometimes conducted interrogations without allowing them access to a lawyer.

Access to basic services: The international community provided basic services to refugees living in the nine camps on the border with Burma. For needs beyond basic care, a medical referral system allows refugees to access other necessary medical services. For the urban population of refugees and asylum-seekers living in and around Bangkok, access to basic publicly funded health services has been minimal. Three NGOs, funded in part by the international community, provided or facilitated primary assistance, legal assistance and mental health. A group of health experts led by UNHCR coordinated the referral of the most urgent medical cases to local hospitals. The government announced later this year that it would provide free COVID-19 testing and treatment to all people, including migrants and refugees, who meet certain case criteria. However, implementation at the provincial and district levels remained uneven, according to NGOs. For example, the governor of Mae Hong Son province decided that provincial hospitals would not provide COVID-19 tests or treatments to refugees living in the province`s four camps. A large number of national and international human rights organizations are active in the country. NGOs dealing with politically sensitive issues such as political reform or opposition to state-sponsored development projects were regularly harassed. In order to effectively implement these international human rights obligations, Thailand has enacted national laws and a national human rights plan.

The preparation of the 3rd National Human Rights Plan (2014-2018) is based on a participatory approach involving all stakeholders and representatives of all provinces of the country. In addition, the plan includes the recommendations of the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) adopted by Thailand. The plan identifies 11 dimensions of human rights such as public health, education and economic rights. In addition, 15 target groups such as people living in poverty, the elderly, children and youth, women and people with disabilities are identified. There were numerous reports of harassment by security forces of citizens who publicly criticized the government, including by visiting or monitoring their homes or workplaces. In July, Tiwagorn Withiton said he had been repeatedly questioned by police and soldiers at his home after posting a photo online of himself wearing a T-shirt criticizing the monarchy. He was then taken to a psychiatric hospital for 14 days by six hospital staff and a soldier from the Internal Security Operations Command. In June, Bunkueanun “Francis” Paohong, a student at Mahidol University, was reportedly visited by four police officers who warned him of possible legal problems related to the protests he had organized and asked him to identify other protest leaders. In October, he and two other protesters were charged with attempted violence against the Queen, an offence punishable by up to life imprisonment for participating in an incident that delayed the Queen`s motorcade as she continued to drive near a protest site.