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06BANGKOK2330 LIFTING THE BAN ON PROVINCIAL POLICE TRAINING

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“61279”,”4/21/2006 8:44″,”06BANGKOK2330″,

“Embassy Bangkok”,”CONFIDENTIAL”,””,

“This record is a partial extract of the original cable.

The full text of the original cable is not available.

 

210844Z Apr 06

“,”C O N F I D E N T I A L

SECTION 01 OF 02 BANGKOK 002330

 

SIPDIS

 

SIPDIS

 

E.O. 12958: DECL: 04/20/2016

TAGS: PHUM, PTER, TH

SUBJECT: LIFTING THE BAN ON PROVINCIAL POLICE TRAINING

 

REF: 2003 BANGKOK 2246

 

Classified By: Ambassador Ralph L. Boyce reason 1.4 (b) (d)

 

1. (U) This is an action message. Please see paragraph 8.

 

2. (C) SUMMARY and action request: Since 2003, we have

barred the use of INL funds for training of provincial

police, due to their suspected involvement in extrajudicial

killings in the war on drugs. Post recommends that we relax

this absolute ban, and permit limited training of provincial

police, consistent with Leahy amendment provisions, in order

to improve the RTG\’s ability to combat terrorism connected to

the ethnic Malay-Muslim insurgency in the far South. END

SUMMARY and action request.

 

BACKGROUND

———-

 

3. (C) In 2003, Prime Minister Thaksin initiated a three

month \”War on Drugs\” campaign intended to eliminate narcotics

from the country. In the wake of the campaign, there were

approximately 1,300 killings of suspected drug traffickers.

The government claimed that most of these killings resulted

from disputes among those involved in the drug trade. Other

sources, including Thailand\’s National Human Rights

Commission, disputed this claim and called for thorough

investigation of all EJKs. The subsequent government

investigation lead to few accusations against police or

military officers. There was, and still is, broad public

support for the crack-down on drug-related crime. As post

reported three years ago: \”The precise number of

extra-judicial killings of drug suspects since February 1 —

and the identities of their perpetrators — is not known or

knowable to the Mission. Nonetheless, the preponderance of

evidence suggests that a significant number of these killings

were perpetrated by the police or by individuals acting on

behalf of the police. The evidence also suggests that most

of the killings associated with the police are associated

with the provincial police forces rather than with those who

work for the divisions of police tasked with specific

functions, for example: Immigration police, Crime

Suppression Police, Special Branch or Border Patrol Police.\”

In that report, post included a recommendation to limit the

training that would be provided to provincial police due to

these concerns, noting, \”In addition to the fact that the

provincial police appear most heavily involved in the (EJKs),

we as a mission have also traditionally had far less contact

with provincial police than with the Border Patrol Police,

Special Branch, Immigration, and other non-police law

enforcement entities.\” (reftel) Department subsequently

implemented a ban on INL funding for provincial police

training.

 

4. (C) Since the conclusion of the \”war on drugs,\” there has

not been another spike in suspected EJKs to compare with

2003. For example, the total number of presumed

insurgency-related deaths from every cause (insurgent or

security force) for the past two years is about 1,100. The

problems of poor police performance and lack of

accountability remain serious, however.

 

POLICE FAILURES FUEL SOUTHERN INSURGENCY

—————————————-

 

5. (C) As we have discussed the RTG\’s difficulties in

countering the insurgency in the far south, it has become

increasingly apparent that this poor performance and lack of

accountability are obstacles to Thailand\’s counter-terrorism

efforts. Everyone from foreign experts to Muslim southerners

point to similar problems. The police are often incapable of

performing the most basic police work – gathering evidence,

following up on leads, making a case that prosecutors can

bring to court. According to one source, the police have

identified suspects in only about 12 percent of the suspected

insurgent attacks. There are few convictions, and courts

have acquitted suspects in several high-profile cases because

of lack of evidence. When a crime or insurgent attack

occurs, the first unit that reaches the scene — provincial

police, other police, or military — usually takes charge of

it. They are usually unable to identify useful evidence, and

they permit bystanders and the press to contaminate the

scene. Trained officials, for example, those who have the

background to do a post-blast investigation at a bombing

site, arrive to find the crime scene being hosed down and

reopened to traffic. The inability of the police to find the

perpetrators of crimes/insurgent violence obviously makes it

easier for insurgents to act. In addition, it has fed the

local suspicions about the origins of the violence. Local

contacts say southerners point to the lack of prosecutions or

even arrests as evidence that Thai security forces or other

third hands (including the US) are \”really\” behind the

violence.

 

ADDRESSING THE PROBLEM

———————-

 

6. (C) Septel will describe post\’s proposals to ramp up

certain kinds of training for the police to improve their

counter-terrorism abilities. In order for these proposals to

have the desired impact, it is essential that provincial

police be included as part of the training

 

— As reftel makes clear, the ban on provincial police

training was not made strictly pursuant to Leahy standards.

Post did not have \”credible evidence\” that the provincial

police were behind specific killings. Based on the

information available to post at this time, it appears that

our decision was over and above the legally required

response.

 

— Although we are not satisfied with the RTG government

response to the 2003 EJKs, we recognize that the campaign

ended quickly and has not been repeated. We believe that

strong international reaction against the killings had the

desired effect, making clear to the Thai that there would be

a price to pay for continued killings. We note that,

although there have been some credible reports of EJKs by

security forces in the southern provinces, the number is

limited. We cannot document a specific link between EJKs in

the south and the provincial police.

 

— We believe that the inability of the police to gather

evidence to make credible cases is disastrous on several

fronts. First and most obvious, genuinely dangerous

supporters of terrorism may well be acquitted by the

independent courts, which must have evidence on which to base

a conviction. Second, there is palpable and growing

frustration on the part of government officials that

terrorism suspects cannot be convicted. This could lead to a

higher level of EJKs, as police take the law into their own

hands.

 

7. (C) We could move forward with our proposal for increased

counter-terrorism training without including the provincial

police, but this would leave a significant gap. The

provincial police are often the first to respond to a

insurgent incident. They have an important role to play —

at a minimum, to understand how to secure a crime scene and

refrain from destroying the evidence until trained personal

arrive. Post would make clear to the RTG that our inclusion

of provincial police would be limited to training we believed

necessary to support our common counter-terrorism objectives.

Our goal is to foster institutional change, therefore, we

would not rule out any participation from police other parts

of the country. However, our priority is the South.

Participants would of course be vetted to ensure respect for

Leahy standards and Department policy, and human rights

training would be a key element in the program.

 

8. (C) Action request: Post requests that the Department

approve the inclusion of provincial police in targeted

INL-funded training. End Action request.

 

BOYCE

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Written by thaicables

July 11, 2011 at 7:54 am

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