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Thai Army Drops Charges Against Rights Activists Over Torture Report

Thai troops patrolling a village in Pattani, to protect Buddhist teachers

Thailand’s army Tuesday dropped criminal defamation charges against three human rights activists linked to a report that alleged systematic torture of insurgents in the custody of security forces in the Thai Deep South.

A spokesman for the regional command (ISOC 4) that covers the southern border zone said the three activists would not face trial for defaming the military and for committing computer crimes, as alleged in a complaint brought against them in May 2016.

“We filed the complaint because we wanted an option to join them in a co-investigation on the claimed torture. We will withdraw the case today. We have no intention to just win the case and punish them through prosecution,” ISOC 4 spokesman Col. Pramote Prom-in told reporters Tuesday at a hotel in Bangkok.

The complaint had named Pornpen Khongkachonkiet, director of the Cross-Cultural Foundation (CrCF); Somchai Hom-la-or, an adviser to CrCF; and Anchana Heemmina, who is with the Duay Jai (With Heart) Group, as targets of a criminal defamation suit.

Pornpen confirmed to BenarNews that ISOC4 had withdrawn all charges against her and the other activists.

In July, the three had appeared before police in Pattani, one of the provinces in the Deep South, to answer to charges of defaming the security services and violating Thailand’s Computer Crimes Act through the online publication of the report, “Torture and Ill Treatment in the Deep South Documented in 2014-2015,” released five months earlier.

The 49-page report co-published by CrCF, Duay Jai and a third local NGO, the Pattani Human Rights Organization (HAP), detailed allegations of torture of suspected insurgents in custody between 2004 and 2015.

The report cited accounts by 54 people ranging in age from 19 to 48 who alleged they had been subjected to physical torture, psychological torture or other inhumane treatment while incarcerated in the Deep South. Physical torture included water boarding, electrocution and sexual assault.

All the detainees were Muslim or Malay-speaking locals from the region, where violence associated with a separatist insurgency has claimed nearly 7,000 lives since 2004.

Full story: BenarNews

BenarNews staff
Bangkok

Copyright ©2017, BenarNews. Used with the permission of BenarNews.

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