Amnesty Thailand 2003 Report

Diskutiere Amnesty Thailand 2003 Report im Thailand News Forum im Bereich Thailand Forum; Amnesty International Thailand 2003 Report Covering events from January - December 2002 KINGDOM OF THAILAND Head of state: King Bhumibol...
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Amnesty International

Thailand 2003 Report
Covering events from January - December 2002

KINGDOM OF THAILAND
Head of state: King Bhumibol Adulyadej
Head of government: Thaksin Shinawatra
Death penalty: retentionist
International Criminal Court: signed

Five people were executed by machine-gun fire during 2002. At least 17
others were sentenced to death, bringing the total number of people
under sentence of death at the end of the year to more than 600. Over
130,000 mostly Karen and Karenni refugees from Myanmar were living in
refugee camps near the border, while Shan refugees were not allowed into
camps. In February police announced that they had discovered the bodies
of some 20 Karen migrant workers. Investigations were initiated into
these murders but the results were not known at the end of the year.
Land rights disputes continued in many parts of the country, including
Lamphun, Ubon Ratchathani, Chiang Rai, Chiang Mai, and Songkla
provinces. The rights of hill tribe people without full Thai citizenship
to land, health care, and education continued to be extremely limited.

In March the government initiated a crack-down on the media, including
foreign publications. The same month the Anti-Money Laundering Office
launched investigations into the financial activities of Thai
journalists critical of the government, in what was widely viewed as a
politically motivated move.

In May the Shan State Army-South (SSA-South), an armed opposition group
based in Myanmar, attacked Myanmar military bases near the Thai border.
In response the Myanmar government closed the border between Myanmar and
Thailand. The border was not reopened until October. The United Wa State
Army (UWSA), a Myanmar-based armed opposition group which agreed a
cease-fire with the government and was widely believed to be involved in
illegally bringing methamphetamine drugs into Thailand, and the Thai
army engaged in skirmishes in March, April, and May. Battles between
Myanmar armed forces and armed opposition groups spilled over into Thai
territory during the year, temporarily displacing Thai civilians.

Death penalty

Five people were executed in Bangkwang Maximum Security Prison, where
all executions take place. Three had been convicted of murder and two of
drugs trafficking. New legislation providing for the method of execution
to be changed from machine-gun fire to lethal injection and also
disallowing the execution of anyone under the age of 18 was promulgated
in November. Some 70 per cent of the over 600 people under sentence of
death had reportedly been convicted of drug-related charges.

Torture and ill-treatment

Three Karenni refugees, one of whom was 15 years old, were raped by
soldiers in March. The women were attacked while they were gathering
vegetables outside Karenni refugee Camp 2 near Mae Hong Son. Three
soldiers were arrested in connection with the attack and remained in
detention but at the end of the year it was not known if they had been
tried and sentenced.

Overcrowding in prisons and the shackling of death-row prisoners
continued although the Corrections Department took steps to reform the
prison system, including training prison guards in human rights. Almost
260,000 people were reportedly held in prisons designed to hold some
100,000 prisoners. Cells in prisons and police stations were in some
cases so crowded that inmates could not lie down on the floor to sleep
at the same time. In April, 15 juveniles who had escaped from the Baan
Ubekkha Juvenile Detention Centre, Samut Prakan Province, said that they
had been ill-treated there.

Prisoner of conscience

Sok Yoeun, a Cambodian refugee and prisoner of conscience in poor health
who was arrested in Thailand in 1999 for "illegal immigration",
continued to be detained and remained at risk of being extradited to
Cambodia. In November a court ruled that he should be extradited; his
lawyers immediately appealed against the decision.

Ethnic minorities and rural people

Twenty-six farmers and land rights activists were arrested in Lamphun
Province in April and May; some were charged with over 40 offences,
including trespassing. By the end of the year all had been released on
bail and an unknown number were standing trial. The 26 were arbitrarily
arrested and seven were detained without bail for six weeks in extremely
overcrowded conditions. The authorities claimed that the farmers were
cultivating privately owned land, although there was compelling evidence
of widespread corruption in issuing land deeds for property and that
some of the land had originally been given to farmers by the
authorities.

In September a group of elderly villagers protesting against the Pak Mun
Dam project were dragged from Ubon Ratchathani town hall and roughly
treated by inebriated paramilitary forces. In December their protest
sites in Bangkok and at the Pak Mun Dam in Ubon Ratchathani Province
were destroyed by unidentified assailants amid protests that the
government did not protect the protesters. Also in December, police
clashed with demonstrators in Hat Yai, Songkla Province, southern
Thailand, when the latter gathered in order to hand over a petition to
the Prime Minister protesting against the construction of a natural gas
pipeline from Malaysia to Thailand. Members of both groups were injured
amid claims that the police had charged peaceful protesters with batons.
The National Human Rights Commission initiated an investigation.

Human rights defenders

Human rights defenders, particularly land rights activists, were
subjected to surveillance, harassment, and intimidation.
In July a hill tribe leader belonging to the Akha tribe was arrested by
police without a warrant at the Chiang Mai airport and taken to her
house which was then ransacked by police. After the police left her
property she and her family experienced threats and other forms of
harassment for several months.
In June unidentified gunmen shot at a farmer and village leader in Chai
Prakan district, Chiang Mai Province. He survived the attack although he
was hit in the chest. By the end of the year, an investigation into the
incident had not been completed by the police and the leader was in
hiding.
A leader of the Pak Mun Dam protesters continued to be denied a passport
and continued to receive anonymous threats.
Migrant workers, refugees and asylum-seekers

Police announced in February that they had found in western Tak Province
the bodies of more than 20 migrant workers belonging to the Karen ethnic
minority from Myanmar . Their throats had been cut. They had been
blindfolded and their wrists were tied behind their backs. No one had
been brought to justice in connection with their murders by the end of
the year.

In March the bodies of 13 migrant workers from Myanmar were found in
Prachin Buri Province. Preliminary investigations indicated that they
had been dumped there after suffocating to death hidden under a load of
vegetables in a truck. By the end of the year, it was not known if
anyone had been brought to justice.

Two separate groups of migrant workers and dissidents from Myanmar were
arrested in August and again in December in Sangklaburi, Kanchanaburi
Province, bordering Myanmar. In each instance both groups were released
a few days after their arrest.

Refugees from Myanmar continued to arrive in significant numbers and
stayed in camps along the Myanmar border, although the government
refused to register them. Shan refugees, who also continued to enter the
country in large numbers, were still denied access to refugee camps.

In December the newly appointed National Security Council Chief
announced that Thailand would begin forcibly returning asylum-seekers
from neighbouring countries to their country of origin.

Visits

AI delegates visited Thailand in February, March and November.

---
Source: http://www.amnesty.org
 
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