The proposal was made by a joint special sub-committee of the National Legislative Assembly (NLA) and the National Reform Steering Assembly (NRSA), chaired by Lt Col Bunruang Phonphanit.
Lt Col Bunruang said at a news conference last week that the main purpose of bringing the RTP under the jurisdiction of the Justice Ministry was to ensure improved integration and cooperation among the various branches of the judicial system.
He said the proposal was to be forwarded to a tripartite committee with members from the cabinet, the NLA and the NRSA for approval before it goes to the cabinet for endorsement.
Included in the proposal were new qualification requirements for future RTP chiefs and an increase in police salaries to a level considered sufficient for them to support their families and boost morale.
The 11 organisations – which included the People’s Network for Police Reforms (PoliceWatch), the Cross Cultural Foundation, the Human Rights and Development Foundation, the Union for Civil Liberty, the Committee of Relatives of May 1992 Heroes, the Friends of Women Foundation, the Campaign Committee for Human Rights and the Campaign for Popular Democracy – issued a statement saying that the proposal should not be approved without the inclusion of measures to reform the police agency.
In the statement, the organisations said they did not want the RTP, with over 220,000 police under its command, to continue to exist and operate in its present form, which they said had caused trouble to the people for the past several decades.
The police reforms must concentrate on concrete structural changes to ensure justice for the people, they said, not on the qualifications of future RTP chiefs or an increase in police salaries.
The increase in police salaries would not be a guarantee that senior police officers would not be corrupt or act as “villains in uniforms”, said the statement.
The organisations called for Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha to respond quickly to a resolution passed by the NLA for nine police units to be transferred to other ministries, based on their responsibilities.
They called for interrogation work to be taken away from the RTP to ensure justice in crime investigations, and for public prosecutors to handle the interrogations of cases which carry a jail term of more than 10 years.
They argued that there should be rooms especially designed for interrogation, equipped with audio-visual devices to record the questioning sessions, which could be called up for review as needed.
The statement said that it would not make any difference whether the RTP was under the Justice Ministry, the Interior Ministry or the prime minister as long as the agency had not undergone true structural reforms, particularly the transfer of interrogation work from the police to another agency.
There would be no real reform if a police officer was allowed to sit as chairman or as a member of a committee working on police reforms, the statement said.
The organisations said in the statement that after three years of waiting, the government installed by the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) had not made any progress regarding police reforms – leaving a majority of Thai people to continue living in fear of maltreatment by people in uniforms.
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