Asian Legal Resource Centre, Hong Kong, 6 October 2011

Those responsible for the deaths of thousands of people during the "war on drugs" conducted in Thailand from 2003 to 2005 continue to enjoy impunity for their crimes over six years on, a relative of one teenage victim of extrajudicial killing said at the United Nations (UN) in Geneva in early October.

Mrs. Pikul Phromchan told delegates participating in an event convened by non-governmental organizations FORUM-ASIA, the International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) and the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) at the UN, two days before the Universal Periodic Review of Thailand's compliance with human rights instruments, that police in the northeastern province of Kalasin killed her nephew, Mr. Kiettisak Thitboonkrong "in order to hide the pernicious nature of the police officers and the weak judicial process" in her country.

"There was no framework within the drug suppression policy to prevent base and amoral state officials from using violence," Pikul said.

"Citizens who possessed status of wealth had to opportunity to pay a bribe; if they did not pay the bribe, then they were killed or disappeared," she added.

Police arrested Kiettisak, 17, in 2004 on charges of allegedly stealing a motorcycle. He never came home. A few days later, his mangled body was found in a neighboring province.

At the urging of relatives, the Department of Special Investigation (DSI) in the Ministry of Justice began investigating his death in 2005, and on 18 May 2009, six police officers were charged with premeditated murder and with concealing Mr. Kiettisak’s corpse to hide the cause of death. At this time, the court case is still ongoing.

Please click here for further information on this case, as well as other murders and torture in which the Kalasin police are accused of involvement. 

Michael Anthony, who is in Geneva representing the Asian Legal Resource Centre, said that the Hong Kong-based regional rights group remained highly concerned for the safety of Pikul.

"Pikul has worked both to secure accountability in the specific case of her nephew and also to fight for justice of some other 27 other victims of the police in Kalasin," Anthony said.

"She is a human rights defender who has worked tirelessly and at considerable personal risk and without her efforts we have no doubt that the case would never have gone to court," he added.

At the time of the killings in 2003, the Asian Legal Resource Centre issued a special report in its periodical, article 2, which can be downloaded here.

Full text of Pikul's statement below:

TRAMPLING ON HUMAN DIGNITY: TORTURE & HUMAN RIGHTS VIOLATIONS COMMITTED BY STATE OFFICIALS IN KALASIN PROVINCE DURING THE "WAR ON DRUGS" (2003-2005)

A Statement from Mrs. Pikul Phromchan at the UN Human Rights Council, Geneva, 3 October 2011

In 2003, the government of Police Lieutenant Colonel Thaksin Shinawatra announced policies of a “War on Drugs” and “War on Influential Persons.” In numerous statements and interviews with various media outlets, the government routinely expressed the sentiment that the use of violence was acceptable. In response, law enforcement and administrative officials responded with haste to produce results and therefore climb to a higher position. Mr. Chairat Mapranit, the governor of Kalasin province, declared Kalasin as the first “drug-free” province in Thailand in 2003. State officials in every part of the province demonstrated their cooperation. During the “War on Drugs,” even the justice system trampled on human dignity; if this was made public, it would be said to impugn the court. Villagers whose rights were violated simply had to withstand the pain and suffering. Those who used the most violence in Kalasin province were those with the power to enforce the law: the police. More than 300 people were killed or disappeared. After the declaration of the “War on Drugs,” there were 2,587 people who were killed throughout the country. The vast majority who were killed were innocent. They were killed to be silenced. They were killed extrajudicially.

There was no framework within the drug suppression policy to prevent base and amoral state officials from using violence. Therefore, it became an opportunity for state officials to seek benefit, power, and charisma through repressing citizens. Citizens who possessed status of wealth had to opportunity to pay a bribe; if they did not pay the bribe, then they were killed or disappeared. For underprivileged citizens who had become drug addicts, even if they had gone through rehabilitation and were no longer addicts, they were silenced by killing. It is well known in Thai society that the trafficking of drugs to sell made high-ranking police officers wealthy and secure. It is also well-known that the promotion of police officers at different levels involves many millions of baht. Ordinary villagers, on the other hand, have no need to search for a lot of money and simply live their lives. This is different from those police officers who become so enchanted by power, rank and position, that they trade the lives and suffering of villagers to secure it.

My nephew, who was only 17 years old, was arrested and tortured. Then he was hung. He was extrajudicially killed. He was killed in order to hide the pernicious nature of the police officers and the weak judicial process of Thai society, which remains open to interference.

For more information in Thai, please click here.

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