Thai soldiers march back to their barracks during Thailand's National Armed Forces Day at the 11th Infantry Regiment in Bangkok on Jan. 18. (Photo by Lillian Suwanrumpha/AFP)
Thai authorities should promptly and independently investigate the death of an army conscript from apparent torture while detained in a military jail, Human Rights Watch said April 4.
The call comes after Pvt. Yutthakinun Boonniam, 22, was pronounced dead at Surat Thani Hospital on April 1, a day after he was brought in from a military remand facility in Surat Thani province, where he had been detained since March 27 for disciplinary offenses.
The doctors stated that Yutthakinun suffered many injuries, including kidney damage, apparently from severe beatings. Yatthakinun's last words to his mother, who visited him at the hospital, were: "I was beaten up. It hurt so much."
"Another army conscript dies from an apparent beating, yet Thai leaders don't seem interested in addressing the problem," said Brad Adams, Asia director. "The government and the military should urgently act to end these brutal assaults and the culture of impunity that has meant no punishment for abusive soldiers and the officers ultimately responsible."
The army inducts about 100,000 conscripts across Thailand each year but fails to implement effective safeguards against torture and other human rights violations committed by officers or other soldiers.
Adams said that the Thai army faces a chronic inability to end abuses against its conscripts.
"Thailand's military needs to take swift action to show that there will be no place in its ranks for those who believe they have unchecked powers to abuse other soldiers or anyone else," Adams said. "The government and top military commanders should ensure that Private Yutthakinun's death will be the last case of barrack brutality in Thailand."