Saturday, March 05, 2016

The Matter of RE-ENACTMENT by Royal Thai Police

Bangkok Post reports a reenactment scenario

“KHON KAEN — A 42-year-old woman caught in Waeng Yai district for repeatedly stabbing and burying alive her newborn son confessed she had done it because she did not want him.

Suda Thongdee of Waeng Yai district was taken on Saturday for a crime re-enactment in a paddy field in Non Sawan village in the district, where her newborn child was found buried alive with multiple stab wounds.

She was escorted under tight security as angry people cursed and yelled at her.”

The news account published on the Bangkok Post website of 27th February reports an event which is standard practice in police investigation procedures of crime action, and Thai media compliance with the practice. The account illustrates succinctly the practice and its reporting. In the first sentence guilt is established. The second sentence presents to us visual proof of the veracity of the guilt. The final sentence reports on the acceptance of the sentence by an angry people. Why is this parody of the justice system allowed to continue?

Among the most basic rights of modern justice is “to be treated with humanity and with respect for the inherent dignity of the human person”[1] while in custody. Secondly, is the “right to be presumed innocent until proved guilty according to law”[2]. Finally is right to fair trial “by a competent, independent and impartial tribunal established by law”[3]

The practice of public reenactment is abhorrent to the rights outlined above, rights guaranteed by Thailand’s ratification of the International Convention cited. When challenged for its non-conformity to obligations imposed by a ratified International Convention, Thailand frequently responds that it is not obliged by requirements not yet codified in Thai law. This is a fallacious response as the obligations to make adaptations of Thai law to align it with treaty obligations is itself a binding obligation which cannot be postponed. Even in the interim the obligations have binding power and cannot be ignored.

It is clear that the practice of “reenactment” takes place under some form of compulsion and in the absence of legal counsel to the accused. Guilt is presumed, and the public conditioned to prejudge court decision. On occasion the participant in the charade has suffered violent attack by enraged onlookers.

Publication of the article cited above led to the following comments:

“ There's no excuse for this regardless of the lack of safe havens. A death sentence is appropriate here.”

“May be she should also be stabbed and buried alive as no one want her”

" The woman wasn't some hapless teenage girl, but a middle-aged woman who callously assaulted her baby. I hope she and whoever else is involved feel the full weight of the law."
A subsequent article probed and asserted motivations for the murder. In true Bangkok Post tradition the sources of the later revelations were not revealed, but one can surely identify them as the woman still appears to lack the protection of legal counsel. This website protested in a comment to the Post, but the comment was ignored.
We have received other complaints and accounts of the practice of reenactment and wonder at the immunity granted court decisions when this prejudicial practice continues.  

[1] International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights,  Article 10.1

[2] Idem, Article 14.2

[3] Idem, Article 14.1

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