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No more selfies with suspects, PM tells cops

BANGKOK: Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha has ordered police officers once again to stop parading crime suspects in front of the press and making them talk about their alleged offences. National police chief Chakthip Chaijinda also banned police from taking suspects to press conferences.

police, crime,


Bangkok Post

Saturday 24 June 2017, 09:36AM


Left: Phramongkutklao Hospital bombing suspect Watana Pumret whispers in the ear of national police chief Chakthip Chaijinda. Right: Bangkok Metropolitan Police commissioner Sanit Mahathavorn talks to Mr Watana during a news conference. Photo: Somchai Poomlard and Seksan Rojjanametakun / Bangkok Post
Left: Phramongkutklao Hospital bombing suspect Watana Pumret whispers in the ear of national police chief Chakthip Chaijinda. Right: Bangkok Metropolitan Police commissioner Sanit Mahathavorn talks to Mr Watana during a news conference. Photo: Somchai Poomlard and Seksan Rojjanametakun / Bangkok Post

A letter signed by Gen Chakthip on Thursday prohibited police officers from taking photos with crime suspects after fierce criticism over the appropriateness of doing so.

Two immigration police officers in Mae Sai were earlier criticised for posing casually with accused murderer Preeyanuch "Preaw" Nonwangchai, who was sporting a beauty treatment face mask. Ms Preeyanuch is suspected of murdering and dismembering karaoke bar girl Warisara Klinjui (read more here).

Earlier this week, the police and media came under fire for allowing Watana Pumret, the accused bomber of Phramongkutklao Hospital, to make a political statement in attempting to justify his attack (read here).

Mr Watana was also pictured whispering in Gen Chakthip's ear while in police custody during a news conference.

Gen Prayut yesterday said the format in which information is disclosed and press conferences are held must be changed.

"I want to tell police that it is not always necessary to bring suspects for media interviews during press conferences. Photos should be enough. The suspects should not be allowed to say whatever they want."

"In fact, suspects don't have the right to say anything [to the press]. If they want to say something, say it during the judicial process, not to the media," he said.

"And the media should not interrogate the suspect. We have to be jointly responsible. I understand that the media want the news. But they should not go overboard because this could create a negative impact," Gen Prayut added.

It is not the first time the premier has given police such an order.

Last September he ordered police and other law enforcement officials and agencies not to bring suspects to press conferences as some could be acquitted at a later date (read here).

But until now the police appear to have struggled to follow the directive.

The letter signed by Pol Gen Chakthip bars anyone from taking still or moving pictures of a police officer while he is with a suspect, except in cases where the photo is relevant to the investigation.

Gen Chakthip also banned police officers from making any gestures which may lead others to believe the officer is personally acquainted with the suspect. This can undermine confidence in police operations, he said.

Deputy permanent secretary to Justice Minister Tawatchai Thaikyo said the ministry once issued a letter dated Aug 3, 2016 regarding suspects' rights and violations of their freedom.

In response, the prime minister instructed the deputy premier in charge of security and the Royal Thai Police that when officers bring suspects to a press conference, they should only provide updates on the progress of the case. The officers should not permit suspects to give media interviews because this is tantamount to violating their human rights.

"If a suspect is proven to be innocent, or even if he is convicted, they will find it difficult to reintegrate into society after they have served their sentences and may even commit further offences," said Mr Tawatchai.

Related government agencies including the Department of Special Investigation, the police and the Office of the Narcotics Control Board as well as media representatives agreed on Sept 29 last year to follow these guidelines, including the use of drawn sketches to represent the suspect in a way that protects their rights.

However, more suspects have recently been brought to public events and press interviews, compelling the prime minister to restate his opinion on the issue.

Mr Tawatchai said the Rights and Liberties Protection Department will closely monitor how well the joint agreement is implemented.

Some suspects use social media to drum up attention for themselves. One example is Ms Preeyanuch, whose posts online led to what the media soon dubbed "Preaw Fever". But critics say this too can be damaging as it casts them in a negative light. Although Ms Preeyanuch is now behind bars, her sister provides updates about her life online.

Corrections Department director-general Kobkiat Kasivivat criticised Prabhasiri Somsri, a sister of Ms Preeyanuch, yesterday for broadcasting on Facebook Live while she was visiting Ms Preeyanuch at the central prison in Khon Kaen.

Mr Kobkiat said Ms Prabhasiri did not broadcast live inside the visitors' section but only recorded her movements on Facebook Live while she was entering the prison gates.

He refused to condone such behaviour, calling it "inappropriate".

Read original story here.

 

 

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Kurt | 24 June 2017 - 15:56:05

Is it not sweet to see how the hospital bomber and the national police chief treat each other in front of the cameras like they are brothers?
They almost cuddle each other. 
May be there are cuddle photos but not shown by all press agencies.
One almost forget that innocent people lost their life in that bomb attack.

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