Constitutional Provisions

A new Constitution for the Kingdom of Thailand was adopted in 2017. Section 28 of the 2017 Constitution stipulates that a person "shall enjoy the right and liberty in his or her life and person" and that "any act affecting the right or liberty in life or person shall not be permitted except on the grounds as provided by law". The Section further prohibits "Torture, brutal acts or punishment by cruel or inhumane means". In addition, the State

should provide assistance to children, youth, women, the elderly, persons with disabilities, indigent persons and underprivileged persons to be able to have a quality living, and shall protect such persons from violence or unfair treatment.S. 71, 2017 Constitution.

With respect to law enforcement agencies, it is stated that members of the police force

shall enjoy the same rights and liberties as those enjoyed by other persons, except those restricted by law specifically in relation to politics, capacities, disciplines or ethics.S. 27, 2017 Constitution.

A Constitutional provision on national reform calls for "appropriate amendments and revisions to the law relating to duties, powers and missions of the police".S. 258, 2017 Constitution.

Treaty Adherence

Global Treaties

Adherence to Selected Human Rights Treaties
1966 Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) State Party
ICCPR Optional Protocol 1 Not party
1984 Convention against Torture (CAT) State Party
Competence of CAT Committee to receive individual complaints No
CAT Optional Protocol 1 Not party
Adherence to International Criminal Law Treaties
1998 Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court Signatory

Regional Treaties

There is not yet a regional human rights treaty to which South-East Asian nations can adhere, although a non-binding human rights declaration was issued by the Association of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN) in 2013.

National Legislation

Police Use of Force

The Royal Thai Police is the primary law enforcement agency in Thailand, although the military continue to carry out law enforcement tasks. 

Under existing law, the Royal Thai Police are empowered to use reasonable force in effecting an arrest. The law on police use of force is, though, in the process of being revised. A draft is currently out for consultation. Section 105 of the Draft National Police Act (2018) provides as follows:

In  a strictly unavoidable circumstance, to protect police discipline, repress police officers who caused recurrence, or to force the police officer who left their duties to return and fulfill their duties, the commander may use firearms or force, and if such acts were done in good faith and proportionate with the cause of the action, such commander or his assistant shall not be subject to any criminal or civil punishments.

With respect to firearms, no standard-issue hand guns are carried by the Royal Thai Police. Police officers must buy their own weapon.

Police Oversight

In addition to internal oversight mechanisms within the Royal Thai Police, the Office of the Ombudsman and the National Human Rights Commission also have roles in the investigation of complaints of unlawful police use of force. Under the 2009 "Organic Act", the Ombudsman is granted the power and duty to "consider and inquire into the complaint for fact-finding" in the case of

performance of or commission to perform duties of a government official, official or employee of a government agency, State agency, State enterprise or local government organisation, which unjustly causes injuries to the complainant or the public whether such act is lawful or not. S. 13(b), 2009 Organic Act on Ombudsman.

Caselaw

Global

Views and Concluding Observations of United Nations Treaty Bodies

In 2017, the Human Rights Committee expressed its particular concern 

about reports of torture and other ill-treatment, extrajudicial executions and enforced disappearances against, inter alia, human rights defenders, including in the context of the southern border provinces.Human Rights Committee, Concluding Observations on Thailand, UN doc. CPR/C/THA/CO/2, 25 April 2017, para. 21.

The Committee called upon Thailand to: 

Ensure that cases are reported and that prompt, impartial and thorough investigations are carried out into all allegations and complaints concerning the unlawful and excessive use of force by law enforcement officials and the military, including torture, enforced disappearances and extrajudicial killings, including in the context of the southern border provinces. It should also ensure that perpetrators are prosecuted and, if convicted, punished with appropriate sanctions.Human Rights Committee, Concluding Observations on Thailand, UN doc. CPR/C/THA/CO/2, 25 April 2017, para. 22.

Regional

There is no regional human rights court in the ASEAN region.

National

There is little evidence that excessive use of police force is effectively repressed under national criminal or civil law.

Downloads

Constitution of Thailand (2017)

ASEAN Human Rights Declaration (2013)

Draft National Police Act (2018) (Thai original)

2009 Organic Act on Ombudsman

Human Rights Committee Concluding Observations (2017)