A glimmer of hope for detainees and their families in the far South
By Pradya Toh-e-tae
Amidst all the bad news that took place in the strife-torn far South, there was however a piece of good news, that was a recent order by Justice Minister Piraphan Saleeratvipark to set up five working committees to help detainees on security-related charges and people directly affected by violence.
The five committees were tasked with compiling and examining information about detainees on security-related charges who claimed they were unfairly treated and examining information about people affected by the violence. Having accomplished the first task, the committees would recommend remedies for the detainees and affected people which include bail for the detainees to the Justice Ministry for consideration.
Advisors to the committees include the justice minister, justice permanent secretary Kittipong Kittiyarak and his deputy, Pol Col Thavee Sodsong.
According to Pol Col Thavee, there are currently 548 people being held in detention on security-related charges in the four southernmost provinces of Yala, Pattani, Narathiwat and Songkhla.
A meeting of concerned agencies and the people’s sector was scheduled on May 17-18 to discuss all the problems related to the detainees and the violence-affected people in order that help can be worked out and extended to these people. Pol Col Thavee said that if any of the detainees wanted to get a bail but could not do so due to lack of fund, the committees would step in to offer help. However, he maintained that the final decision to grant bail or to deny bail depends on the court.
The whole exercise was intended to ensure fairness and justice to people who claimed they were not faily treated by the authorities. It was also intended to build confidence in the detainees and their families on the justice system.
Apart from the government’s efforts to help these victims, the people’s sector in cooperation with the Songkhal prison have come up with a programme, named Justice for Peace, to assist the victims and their families.
The programme which started on April 13 and would last until July 9 features numerous activities which include interviews with the detainees, group discussions on subjects ranging from conflict solutions, emotions and stress control, self-sufficiency philosophy to post-detention life planning and religious principles in daily life.