Published on February 8, 2008
Human Rights Watch yesterday criticised senior police officers who have threatened to take action against people who don't have evidence to back up claims they were victims of a rogue police gang alleged to have gone on a wild spree of kidnapping and extortion.
Brad Adams, director of HRW Asia, said extensive news coverage about the "border-patrol gang" had revealed a "chronic and systematic abuse of power" by the Thai police, along with details of police brutality and corruption.
"It is not just individual cases of corruption, of malfeasance - it's chronic behaviour [among Thai policemen], and there are no check-and-balance mechanisms presently available to look into it," he said.
Adams also called on the new government to take drastic action against the rogue officers, but only through a transparent judicial process.
Meanwhile, the wives of officials serving under Border Patrol 42 in Nakhon Si Thammarat, where the rogue officers were based, pleaded with the public and media yesterday to stop demeaning their husbands.
The 30 women gathered at the police barracks and displayed plaques and certificates issued to former deputy commander Lt Surakit Khlai-udom - the most senior suspect currently in police custody - and insisted he was a good man.
One of the wives, Wilaijit Anantasenee, called on the society and media to stop "executing" Surakit and other Border Patrol 42 officers.
She said the policemen's families were now suffering from prejudice and some of their children had stopped going to school after their classmates kept teasing them about their fathers.
The Law Society of Thailand (LST) said earlier that the police generals who signed off on the "wrongful arrests" by the officers should be held responsible for
the "indirect supportive role" they had in the crimes committed.
LST secretary-general Sa-ngiam Bunjan said under Article 148 of the Criminal Code, government officials found guilty of deliberate negligence in preventing their men from criminal acts could face the death sentence.