Innocence International Asia Conference
Joint Statement and Press Release
At present, the Thai Criminal Justice System is at stake, especially at the investigation/ interrogation to collate evidence (by the police) and the prosecution of the public prosecutors led to the court orders, is facing the crisis of public trust seriously. This problem is definitely threatening democraticgovemance and the system as well as the Rule of Law and national security badly. This need to be resolved and reform urgently. Most important part to bring about the real change. there is a strong need to recognise that these critical problems and the weaknesses that caused the corruption, abuse of power or the wrong-doings which is harming the state, society and the people both in the past and present at all levels. This conference has been discussed, critic and analyse the current crisis. The recommendations will be forwarded to the government and concern authority for further action and move forward a genuine justice reform.
Innocence International Thailand together with the Institute for Justice Reform (IJR), Union for Civil Liberty (UCL), Asian Governance Foundation (AGF) and the German-Southeast Asian Center of Excellence for Public Policy and Good Governance (CPG) are jointly organizing the seminar on ‘Explicate the Criminal Justice System’ as the core part of the Innocence International Asia Conference on September 5, 2020 from 8.30 – 17.00 hrs. at the True Icon Hall on the 7th Floor, Icon Siam Bangkok, Charoen Nakorn Road, Bangkok. The conclusion of the seminar is as follow:
- The problematic Thai Criminal Justice system, especially at the investigation/ interrogation (by the police officers), prosecution by the public prosecutors and the court hearing and court decision is mainly caused by the outdated criminal justice system which is not complied to international standard since 1963. The investigation power in the earlier days was in the hand of the civilian branch of administrative officer (Ministry of Interior) in accordance to the Criminal Procedure Code. This was taken away by the authoritarian of Field Marshal Sarit Thanarat who imposed the Interior Ministry Executive Order to delegate all the investigation power to the Police Department (in which it was under the Ministry at that time but now became the National Police Office separated from the Ministry of Interior since 2004) at all levels throughout the nation instead. As the result, Administrative Officers (mainly the Provincial Governors and the District Chief Officers) were no longer able to check, verify and involve in the process of collating evidence any more.With this problem, it provided the opportunity for those corrupted officers to abuse their power benefitted from drug narcotic or such illegal businesses withoutany assessment. It also provided them the chance to assist or refrain from the legal action against those influential figures or those corrupted officials. Otherwise, they could imposed the charges against the innocent persons by distorting the evidence or witnesses so easily as they want. As the result, the Thai Criminal Justice system is now in the situation of ‘The criminal is free while the innocent became scapegoat.’
The National Police Office is the state agency which the structure of command lines and human resource management system was designed like the military style. Investigation officers and forensic sciences officers who are the officers of criminal justice procedure are the government officials with the police hierarchical rank and under the strict rule similar to the military command in the battle field. These officers had to obey the order of their superior and fearful of such disciplinary punishment. Therefore, they have to surrender to the unwritten orders of their superiors or higher rank officials. This is one of the reasons why they are unable to perform their professional practice in collating the evidence honestly to ensure the facilitation of social justice and the rule of law.
- Problems mentioned above are structural problems that need changes at the level of total reform of both policing and investigation systems as follows:
2.1 Reform the internal structure of police institution to decentralize power of police to provincial level in order to make police officers conscious of their accountability toward the people and their local area, give power to each provincial governor to appoint, move and penalize police officers at the level of station chief downward in the province under his/her authority with consent of the provincial police committee. Create security to guarantee prevention of wrongful use of power or overuse of power or corruption by police officers who take gift or bribe from bad, illegal elements to destroy justice and then can escape to continue making money in other provinces. The people can register their complaints about problems concerning the police to provincial governors easier than to any Regional Police Headquarters or the National Police Office, and can prevent transfer of bribes through police ranking.
2.2 Separate the Bureau of Forensics from the police, move it to be directly under Ministry of Justice to eradicate interference and distortion of evidence by police in command of investigation to create security of independence and straightforward performance in duty of forensic officers under scrutiny of a professional committee.
2.3 Reform investigation system for important cases by allowing state officials from several agencies to witness and collect evidence at the scene of action of important cases, particularly murder cases, at the same time by amending the Criminal Procedure Code in parts concerning investigation to require inquiry officials to electronically report any criminal scene to the local administration, provincial governor, district chief and state prosecutor to examine the scene of action together with physicians and forensic officials to prevent delay of the case by one party to cause lost of evidence in order to help criminals.
2.4 Amend the Criminal Procedure Code to give state prosecutors power to examine or control, start an investigation in cases of which penalties include imprisonment of ten years or more, or in cases of complaint that inquiry officials did not accept complaints or petition or investigation has been delayed without reasons, and give state prosecutors power to initiate investigation and proceedings against police officials who acted illegally in order to prevent destruction of evidence in the investigation process to help fellow police officers of the same group.
2.5 Amend the Criminal Procedure Code to prevent arresting officers to use their power wrongfully, violate human rights of innocent people, by requiring arresters to notify state prosecutors about an arrest of a person in order that state prosecutors would come to check the arrest at office of inquiry officials immediately to examine evidence and safeguard in time the right to life and liberty of the arrested person. Moreover, to issue a summon of an alleged offender or propose to court to issue a warrant of arrest and a warrant of detention of any person must receive prior approval from state prosecutors to prevent arrest and detention of any person who state prosecutors may issue non- prosecution order as state prosecutors would approve issuing of a warrant of arrest and a warrant of detention only when they have examined evidence until they are confident that there is a necessary case to make an arrest and there is evidence firm enough to announce a charge or when any person was arrested, state prosecutors would issue a prosecution order to prove an offence in order that court would give penalty consistent with international standards; image and audio recording need to be made continuously during the arrest and interrogation.
2.6 Amend the Criminal Procedure Code to provide that “ministries and departments who are authorities according to any law are also to have power to investigate the offence without undermining power of police inquiry officials who would conduct an investigation according to their authorities”, in order to increase effectiveness of the law maintenance by distributing investigation power to agencies with specific expertise and prevent the National Police Office to be the only one agency that monopolize investigation to initiate a case, a situation that has created many problems until now, allowing every agency to investigate offence according to specific law that it is responsible for and has more knowledge and expertise than the National Police Office to send words of a case directly to state prosecutors.
2.7 Make a provision that an offence of distortion and obstruction of justice be an offence with criminal penalty in the Criminal Code in order to penalize any person who take action that is interference or distortion of the justice system, making it err from reality.
Saturday, 5th September 2020
8.00 – 8.30 AM. Registration
8.30 – 9.00 AM. Opening Ceremony
9.00 – 9.45 AM. Mr. Lo Shin – Hsiang, Representative from Innocence Taiwan
9.45 – 10.30 AM. Mr. Mitsuyuki Inaba, Representative from Innocence Japan
10.30 – 12.00 PM. Dr. Namtaee Meeboonsalang
Mr. Suriyong Kongkapan
Mr. Maetee Noivong
Krittin Meewuttisom, M.D.
Mrs. Road Yimkaew
Representative from Innocence Thailand
1.00 – 1.30 PM. International Principles in Criminal Justice System
Dr. Namtaee Meeboonsalang, Representative from Innocence Thailand
1.30 – 2.30 PM. Explicate the Criminal Justice System
Dr. Namtaee Meeboonsalang
Pol.Col. Virute Siriswadibutr
Mr. Nikorn Weesapen
Dr. Ratawit Jitsujaritwong
Pol.Maj. Chavalit Laohaudomphan
Dr. Suntariya Muanpawong
Dr. Tanatthep Tianprsit
To be completed