In the wake of the mass murder that took place in Bangkok last April and May, we have commenced the preparation of a factual brief to supply to the prosecution concerning the commission of crimes against humanity. Besides sworn statements of witnesses we have video evidence and forensic evidence that will all be supplied premised on the declared unwillingness of the Thai government to bring any perpetrator to justice.
In Thailand, as I witnessed so recently in Russia, there is no hesitation to misuse the judicial process to attack political enemies and thereby camouflage the conduct of criminals who have managed to instrumentalize the courts and other institutions.
Those who decry attempts to internationalize criminal law enforcement need to focus on Thailand as emblematic of a nightmare scenario where a government, after shutting 250 000 web-sites, brings terrorist charges against political opponents, detains them pursuant to an illegal emergency decree, and then shields itself from any accountability behind fraudulent “Reconciliation Commissions.”
Our activities on behalf of the Red Shirts therefore seek to address the inherent inequality of arms between those who illegally wrest control of state instruments and those who legitimately attempt to exercise their constitutional rights during an extended period of false emergency.
We believe one tool to address this glaring inequity is to go beyond highlighting the independent duty to investigate that Thailand has repeatedly breached, as we have documented in a series of open letters and reports. Rather, we argue that the upcoming trials related to the Red Shirt rallies should in fact be considered a crime against humanity under international criminal law.
For decades, the rules of war under Common Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions stated that the passing of sentences and the carrying out of executions without previous judgment pronounced by a regularly constituted court affording all the guarantees which are recognized as indispensable by civilized peoples is strictly prohibited.
The Statute of the International Criminal Court speaks even more broadly. Article 8 (2) (a) (vi) clearly mentions “wilfully depriving a prisoner of war or other protected person of the rights of fair and regular trial” as both a War Crime and a grave breach of the Geneva Conventions.
In this context of false emergency, the show trials that the government will soon mount (with the complicity of Thailand’s corrupt judiciary) against the leaders of the Red Shirt movement should be seen as violations of both customary international law and international criminal law. Does the Thai government have sufficient political and legal cover to persist on violating the constitution, international treaties, and international criminal norms? Or, after enjoying decades of impunity for the most horrifying human rights violations, will Mr. Abhisit be the first member of Thailand’s establishment to finally face real accountability for his crimes?