Thailand: activists protest against human rights violations in women’s prison
On 5 November, a group of activists who have formerly been detained at the Central Women Correctional Institution gathered to protest against human rights violations inside the women’s prison.
The group, led by Ploy Dechwongsa and Kornkanok Khumta, held up signs saying “unchain political prisoners” and “this is all they can do to us” in front of the Central Women Correctional Institution. They also read a statement calling for the Department of Corrections to follow the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), especially Article 10, the first two clauses of which states “all persons deprived of their liberty shall be treated with humanity and with respect for the inherent dignity of the human person” and “Accused persons shall, save in exceptional circumstances, be segregated from convicted persons and shall be subject to separate treatment appropriate to their status as unconvicted persons.”
The group also said that the detainee’s right to their own body should not be violated. They should not be forced to cut their hair or to undergo a pelvic examination, and whether they are convicted or not, they should be allowed to keep their hair long, to dye their hair, or wear make-up.
The group said that, while the prison’s purpose is to deprive a person of their freedom, the person’s civil rights should still be respected. They therefore called for the Ministry of Justice and the Department of Corrections to repeal any rules or regulations that lead to violations of human rights and women’s rights in every prison, and stated that no matter how serious the crime, the state may not take away anyone’s basic human rights.
The statement also condemned the Bangkok Remand Prison and the Central Women Correctional Institution for allowing officers to go into the prison area to detain political prisoners without any legal basis, and demand that the relevant agencies provide an explanation for what happened.
The group also said that they will be submitting a petition to the Minister of Justice and the Director-General of the Department of Corrections to call for amendments to rules relating to detaining women, and that they will be compiling cases and submitting them to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) if the Thai authorities do not act on their demands.
On the night of 30 October, student activists Panusaya Sithijirawattanakul, Parit Chiwarak, and Panupong Jadnok, who were in detention on charges relating to recent demonstrations, were re-arrested immediately at the Bangkok Remand Prison after the court denied a police request to extend their temporary detention.
During her detention at the Central Women Correctional Institution, Panusaya’s long, blonde hair was cut short and re-dyed black to comply with prison regulations. She also told Thai Lawyers for Human Rights (TLHR) when her lawyer went to visit her that she has been told to replace her glasses with a pair with a plain, black frame. She also said that the prison is more crowded and the rules stricter than at Thanyaburi Prison, where she was previously detained, and that during the early part of her detention, she was quarantined in a room with 48 other inmates.