In response to media enquiries about Amsterdam & Peroff?s press statement issued on 31 May 2010, entitled ?War Crimes Expert Joins Investigation of Bangkok Deaths?, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs wishes to provide the following clarification.
Regarding operations by security forces, the Royal Thai Government had given strict orders that all operations regarding the protests by the United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship (UDD) be undertaken in accordance with the seven-step rules of engagement in line with the principle of proportionality and international standards, including the United Nations Basic Principles on the Use of Firearms by Law Enforcement Officials. They were also subject to strict instruction on the use of live ammunition, namely: as warning shots, in self-defence and to prevent harm on the lives of members of the public.
Based on evidence and video footage taken by the media during the clashes between the protesters and the security forces, it is clear that there were armed elements infiltrating among the demonstrators. These individuals ? not bound by similar rules ? had used lethal weapons, including automatic assault rifles and grenade launchers, with indiscriminate effect and utter disregard for human lives, leading to loss of lives and injuries among demonstrators, bystanders and security officers.
As for those suspects under the Emergency Decree, their fundamental human rights have been fully respected and accorded in accordance with the Thai Constitution and within the perimeters of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR). It should be noted in this context that Article 4.1 of the ICCPR allows for the right of derogation of certain rights guaranteed thereunder in times of public emergencies. Moreover,
Concerning the detention of some suspects in accordance to the Emergency Decree to prevent further violation of such Decree, various safeguards are provided to ensure that their right to be promptly notified of charges is not disproportionately affected by limiting the custody period of those suspects to a maximum of thirty days, during which a court-approved extension is required for every seven-day period. Upon the expiration of such period, if such detention is further required, the competent authorities are required to proceed in accordance with the Criminal Procedure Code. In the context of a public emergency situation, such limited and judicially-supervised period of detention is also permissible under the provisions of the ICCPR.
Regarding the right to counsel, under the Emergency Decree, lawyers may visit these suspects. Those detained have, therefore, not been denied their right to counsel. Section 12 of the Emergency Decree explicitly provides that those detained suspects shall not be treated as an accused person, and shall be detained in a designated place which is not a police station, detention centre, penal institution or prisons. The locations of all detainees is also a matter of public record as the competent officials have made known the designated locations used for detaining suspects under the Emergency Decree. Copies of custody reports filed with the courts are also kept at the office of the competent officials.
As for those who have been charged and sentenced for violating the Emergency Decree, they have been accorded due process of law in accordance with Thai criminal law and procedures. Since the charges against them were criminal offences punishable with imprisonment for a term not exceeding two years or fine not more than 40,000 baht, the cases have been brought to the District Courts which have jurisdiction with respect to such offences. The alleged offender will be tried according to the proceeding stipulated in the Act establishing the District Courts and Criminal Procedure in such Courts B.E. 2499 (1956) (amended in B.E. 2539 (1996)). This is to give the alleged offender the right to fair and expeditious trial in accordance with Section 40 of the Thai Constitution and with the objective of restoring peace and public order.
The Thai Government regrets the losses that occurred and has made it clear that it is open to scrutiny and ready to be held accountable in accordance with the law. In this connection, an independent commission is in the process of being set up to ascertain the circumstances surrounding the casualties and incidents that occurred during the protests. In addition, the National Human Rights Commission and the National Anti-Corruption Commission which are independent constitutional bodies are conducting their own investigations into the incidents. The Government stands ready to cooperate with these independent bodies as well as with parliamentary scrutiny.