At least five death sentences were imposed during the year, although there were no reports of any executions. Prisoners were reportedly held in conditions amounting to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment. Refugees and asylum-seekers from Myanmar and other countries were also held in such conditions, and hundreds were returned to their countries of origin, where they were at risk of human rights violations. The five-party coalition government led by Prime Minister Chuan Leekpai, which came to power following elections in September 1992, continued to govern the country. Discussion continued in both houses of Parliament over redrafting the 1991 Constitution promulgated by the National Security and Peacekeeping Council (the military government of the time), but no progress was made on substantive reform. Despite the commitment made by the Thai Government to the UN World Conference on Human Rights in Vienna in June 1993 that Thailand would accede to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, by the end of the year it had not done so. In July a group of non-governmental organizations arranged a conference to discuss human rights in southeast Asia to coincide with a meeting of the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN). Three overseas delegates who arrived to take part in the conference were deported, on the grounds that they had not requested work permits 30 days in advance. Such a requirement had not been imposed before, and official condemnation of the conference by the Thai authorities suggested that the freedom of human rights groups to organize international meetings in Thailand might in future be subjected to similar arbitrary restrictions. The whereabouts of 39 people who vanished during the security forces' violent crack-down on pro-democracy demonstrations in May 1992 (see Amnesty International Reports1993 and 1994) had still not been established by the end of 1994; they may have been victims of extrajudicial executions. The government did not reveal the full results of a Defence Ministry investigation into the military's role in May 1992, although the report had been submitted to the government in July 1992. In May 1994 the Interior Ministry instructed provincial governors to work with the Office of the Supreme Attorney General and the courts to make official declarations on those still missing in order to allow compensation to be paid to relatives. The families of the missing are entitled to compensation payments of 200,000 Thai baht, approximately US$8,000, each. Under the law, an official declaration can be made after a person has been missing for two years, but a court order is required and these are made on a case by case basis. The first of these cases was raised by the Office of the Supreme Attorney-General in June. According to the government, 30 families of the missing had received compensation as of July. A lawsuit demanding compensation from the leaders of the military government of 1992, filed by relatives of victims of the May 1992 crack-down, was dismissed by the Civil Court in June. The court based its decision on the amnesty granted by the government to those involved in the crack-down. The trial on charges of lese-majesty of prominent social critic and Buddhist scholar Sulak Sivaraksa continued intermittently during 1994 (see Amnesty International Report 1994). If convicted and sent to prison, he would be considered a prisoner of conscience. At least five death sentences were imposed during 1994, four for heroin-related offences and one for murder. Over 100 prisoners were believed to be under sentence of death at the end of the year. There were no reports of any executions. The King of Thailand granted amnesties in April to more than 10 prisoners facing the death penalty. In July the Interior Ministry called for more information from the Police Department on a draft bill which would impose mandatory execution for major crimes committed with war weapons. No further information on the status of this bill was available at the end of the year. There were continuing reports of criminal prisoners being held in conditions amounting to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment. These included the use of heavy leg chains for extended periods, poor medical care and ill-treatment. In February the Police Director-General rejected news reports that foreigners had been summarily executed in Thailand, but admitted that some detainees had died in police custody. He said that most of them had committed suicide. The Police Director-General admitted that it was possible that some suspects had been physically abused, but said that this was an investigation method that police all over the world had used. Immigration officials and police continued to detain asylum-seekers and refugees from Myanmar and other countries in harsh conditions, sometimes amounting to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment. After the authorities announced a crack-down on illegal immigration in 1993, thousands of asylum-seekers and refugees were arrested and charged with illegal immigration. Even asylum-seekers who were registered with the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) were arrested, detained and, in some cases, forcibly returned to their country of origin. Asylum-seekers convicted of illegal immigration have to pay a fine or serve a prison term at the Immigration Detention Centre (IDC) in Bangkok. Former detainees complained of chronic overcrowding, lack of food and ill-treatment, including beatings by officials, at the IDC. Refugees and asylum-seekers were detained even after they had served their sentences, because they did not have the money to pay for their own deportation. Throughout the year, refugees and asylum-seekers were sent back to countries where they were at risk of human rights violations. Hundreds of refugees from Cambodia were deported to an area of Cambodia controlled by the armed opposition group, the Partie of Democratic Kampuchea (Khmer Rouge). The UNHCR strongly condemned the forcible return of the Cambodian refugees. Hundreds of refugees from the Shan State in Myanmar, fleeing from forced portering and other human rights violations committed by the Burmese army, were forced back across the border to Myanmar by the Thai authorities. Refugees and asylum-seekers from Myanmar who were convicted of illegal immigration were sent to Halockhanie (Halakhanee) refugee camp. The camp, to which thousands of refugees were moved by the Thai authorities in April, straddles the border with Myanmar. In July Burmese armed forces attacked the camp, burned 60 houses and took 16 people prisoner (see Myanmar entry). Refugees fled back across the border to Thailand, but were forced to return to Myanmar in September by the Thai authorities. Deportations continued to Halockhanie throughout 1994, where refugees were at risk from further attack by the Burmese military forces. Four Malaysian nationals, including a six-month-old baby, all members of the Islamic sect Al Arqam, were arrested in September and handed over to the Malaysian authorities. The four were taken to Malaysia, where they were held in incommunicado detention until their release at the end of October. Malaysia outlawed the Al Arqam sect in August, and its followers risk up to five years' imprisonment (see Malaysia entry). The Thai authorities said that the Malaysian authorities had declared the passports of the four invalid, and that the four were therefore living in Thailand without valid documents. In May Amnesty International called upon the Thai authorities to stop immediately the forcible return of Burmese refugees to Shan State, Myanmar. In September Amnesty International published a report, Thailand: Burmese and other asylum-seekers at risk, detailing the organization's concerns about the treatment of refugees and asylum-seekers. Amnesty International urged Thailand to accede to the 1951 Convention relating to the Status of Refugees, and to its 1967 Protocol, and to ensure better protection for refugees in the country. An Amnesty International delegation met the Thai Prime Minister in September and discussed Thailand's treatment of refugees and asylum-seekers. A military spokesman later stated that the forcible return of refugees to Myanmar complied with the government's policy of expelling those who had entered the country illegally.
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