National Human Rights Committee Subcommittee No.1 Report, October 17, 2008
( Last edit 2009-05-27 )
The Report on Human Rights Violation By Human Rights Protection Subcommittee No.1
Report of Examination No / 2008
Subject The Violence Resulting from the Dispersal of the Rally on October 7, 2008 in Terms of Policies and Commands
Plaintiff The National Human Rights Committee (NHRC) and Abhisit Vejjajiwa, Democrat Party Leader
NHRC voted in the meeting No.34/2008 on October 7, 2008 in a special agendum, to examine the dispersal of the rally while Abhisit Vejjajiwa, Democrat Party Leader, submitted a letter No. 492/2008 on October 9, 2008, requesting an investigation of the dispersal of the rally on October 7, 2008 following the violence which took place after government officers dispersed the rally around the House of Parliament and the viccinity resulted in fatality and morbidity of innocent people which is a severe violation of human rights. NHRC authorized Human Rights Protection Subcommittee No.1 to investigate for fact findings as a special case.
The Subcommittee has found the following facts:
In the early morning of October 7, 2008, about 6 am, while people were gathering on Rajvithee road and Uthongnai road around the House of Parliament, some were listening to the speech from the mobile stage and some were sleeping or resting nearby.
At 6:15 am, polices on Rajvithee road at Karnruan junction started firing teargas canisters into the crowd at the T-junction between Pichai road and Rajvithee road opposite the exit gate of the House of Parliament. While firing teargas canisters continously, police rows marched to approach the piles of tyres barricade on Rajvithee road near the exit gate of the House of Parliament on Pichai road. There appeared to be a person lying still, having one of his leg totally blown away in front of the exit gate of the House of Parliament. The rallying protesters near the tyres barricade crouched and some retreated to the Uthongnai T-junction. Police officers were able to successfully push the people to retreat to the Uthongnai T-junction while walking pass the injured people without offering any help until an ambulance from Vachira Hospital arrived to rescue and move the injured people out of the scene.
Interviewing with the eyewitnesses particularly the media revealed the following. The police officers, before firing the teargas canisters to disperse the crowd at Pichai T-junction opposite the exit gate of the House of Parliament, did not give any warning to the rallying crowd.
Again just after 16:00, the police intensely bombarded teargas canisters into the crowd rallying in the Statue of King Chulalongkorn plaza, in series for about 30 minutes, resulting in casualties and severe injuries which included numerous blown off arms and legs. Also Miss Angkana Raduppanyawut died.
Interrogating on the scene witnesses revealed that the police officers, before firing the teargas canisters, did neither give any warning to the rallying crowd nor use the shields to push the crowd away. The firing of the teargas started about the time when the crowd fired 7-8 glass balls with sling shots hitting the police shields, following which, polices immediately fired the teargas.
Again at about 19:00, for as long as an hour, police officers intensely and continuousely bombarded teargas canisters into the crowd rallying at the junction between the Sri-Ayudhya road and Rajdamnoen road near the Metropolitan Police Headquarter, resulting in a lot of casualties and severe injuries which included numerous blown off arms and legs similar to the prior incident.
The cause of this last bombardment was because a police officer in the rear of police rows pulled an object and threw it into front row police five meters away. There was a blast sound and dense smoke. The police then shouted that PAD had teargas grenades. Polices then heavily fired teargas canisters into the crowd, resulted in such casualties.
Opinions and Resolutions of Human Rights Protection Subcommittee No.1
The subcommittee has considered the following facts. Before the execution of force and teargas to disperse the crowd around the House of Parliament, the Statue of King Chulalongkorn plaza, and the Metropolitan Police Headquarter, on the late night of October 6, 2008, Police General Patcharawas Wongsuwan, the Police Commander in Chief, held a secret meeting in which Police Lieutenant General Suchart Muankaew, the Metropolitan Police Commander and several other high rank polices joined. After that, they went to attend another meeting in the ousted government office (2) at Donmuang Airport where PM Somchai Wongsawas had called an emergency cabinet meeting to confirm the oblgatory parliament declaration of the government's policies on the following October 7, 2008.
The interrogation with most of the media showed the awareness as earlier as the night of October 6, of the possibility of police using force and teargas to crackdown the rally in the morning of October 7, 2008 in order to pave way for the MPs, Senators and the cabinet into the Parliamental hearing of the government policies. Later, there was an actual use of police force with teargas firearms to fire teargas canisters to disperse the rallying crowd around the House of Parliament to enable the MPs, Senators and the cabinet to enter the parliamental hearing of the government policies. In addition, there was a use of police force with teargas firearms to fire teargas canisters to disperse the rallying crowd around the House of Parliament to enable the MPs, Senators and the cabinet to exit the parliament buildings. The use of police and teargas firearms to disperse the crowd on October 7, 2008 resulted in a large number of casualties, severe injury, blown off legs and arms and some fatality.
The above events lead to the issue of possibility of human rights violation by using of police force and teargas to crackdown the crowd on October 7, 2008. In controling the rally or dispersal of the rally, according to the basic principles on the use of force and firearms by law enforcement officers, law enforcement officers must, at their best possible efforts, try to use non-violent measures first before using force and firearms.
Whenever it is righteously unavoidable to use force and firearms, the law enforcement officers must be restrained to use it, and act properly and accordingly to the severity of the crimes with justifiable objectives. The officers must minimize the casualties and damages with due respect and preservation of human lives. Moreover, the officers must offer helps and medical assistance to the injured or the affected as soon as possible. The officers must notify the relatives or the next of kin of the injured or the affected as soon as possible.
According to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Rules on Citizen's Rights and Political Rights, the government as well as the law enforcement authorities and the officers must realize the permission to use force and firearms only in the conditions which match with the principles No.33 and No.34. That is in dispersal of any illegal but non-violent rallies, the law enforcement officers must avoid using force, or else if unavoidable, the officers must limit the use of force to the minimum as necessary (principles No.33). And in dispersal of any violent rallies the law enforcement officers may use firearms only when it is not possible to use any less dangerous measures and use them at the minimal level as necessary (principles No.34).
Code of Conduct for Law Enforcement Officials (CCLEO, 1979) states that in carrying out the duty, the law enforcement officers must respect and protect human dignity and preserve human rights of each person. Any law enforcement officers must not initiate, provoke, or endure any acts of torture or punnishment of cruel, inhumane or trampling human dignity.
Moreover, from the investigation, police officers involved in the riot crackdown and crowd control reported to the subcommittee that, in general, the principles of crowd control would be avoidance of using force by using negotiation first. In negotiation, an authorized person must be designated. Following the negotiation, if the protestors remain violating or disobedient, rows of shields must be used without other weapons, to push away the crowd from the designated perimeter where illegality have to be prevented. Failing that and the resistance remains, water cannon may be used. However, before using water cannon, the crowd must be warned by explicit announcements. Having failed from water cannon, the crowd must be warned by explicit announcements for the upcoming use of teargas in order to fright the crowd to stop the violation of the laws. All steps mentioned must be under supervision of the highest commanding officer on site or the authorized commanding officer.
Therefore, the execution of the police officers with force and teargas firearms in dispersal the rallying crowd without warning announcement as well as the absence of the practice in accordance with the principles set by Universal Declaration of Human Rights, resulting in severe injuries and fatality of the people and police officers, is the act which violate human rights and the laws.
The next issue is who is to be responsible in this dispersal of the rallying of the people. The opinion is that the dispersal of the rally originated from the government's fixed determination to carry out the declaration of the government policy on October 7, 2008 as it was apparently not a dispersal to search and arrest according to the standard law enforcement processes. Moreover, there was a meeting arranged by the National Police Bureau and a cabinet meeting in order to plan, prepare and order a dispersal of the rally in the late night of October 6, 2008. Accordingly following such plans, on October 7, 2008, police officers used force and teargas firearms to disperse the rally. These facts lead to a belief that the police officers' execution of force and teargas firearms to disperse the rallying crowd on October 7, 2008 orginated from the order by the government to enable the policy declaration of the government to proceed as scheduled. Therefore, when there was a violation of human rights, the government and the National Police Bureau must be responsible to the losts incurred.
In addition , the investigation into the facts to find the culprits for these violations of human rights will be promptly carried out by the committee.
Doctor Lady Pornthip Rojanasunan
Colonel Piyawat Kingket
Human Rights Protection Subcommittee No.1
Oct 7, 2008
CLICK for the NHRC Subcommittee No.1 Report Of October 24, 2008
CLICK for the NCCC's indictments of Somchai and his subordinates. September, 2009