Cops need to clean up act

Cops need to clean up act

Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha and the Royal Thai Police (RTP) chief deserve praise for their fast reaction to the shocking case of a group of policemen accused of murdering a drug suspect with a plastic bag. Yet they need to do more than just arrest the culprits and put them on trial.

Within a day, a court issued arrest warrants for a senior police officer and six subordinates in Nakhon Sawan for alleged torture -- five were reported to have already been arrested.

However, Pol Col Thitisan Utthanaphon, superintendent of Muang police in Nakhon Sawan, remains at large. Known as "Joe Ferrari" for owning supercars such as Ferraris and Maseratis, Pol Col Thitisan was reported to have sneaked over the border and is believed to be hiding in a neighbouring country.

RTP chief Suwat Jangyodsuk is clear that these officers are in the wrong and assigned top investigators to deal with this shameful case.

Yet the RTP and the government must do more than just arrest the suspects and put them on trial. The case again shines a spotlight on ingrained problems in our justice system that dovetail with the unchecked police interrogation process.

The disturbing video clip speaks volumes about the inhumane tactics these policemen used against the arrested suspect.

Yet society knows that the use of torture in interrogations is not unusual. There have been many complaints about the use of torture by state officials against suspects.

Police have been given extraordinary powers to handle investigations and interrogations. These unchecked powers often lead to abuses. Some suggest including public prosecutors in the interrogation process. This proposal has received a lukewarm response from the RTP.

Another crucial solution to clean up interrogations is a bill on the Prevention and Suppression of Torture and Enforced Disappearance.

The bill -- which comes with stronger penalties against those who abuse their power -- was written a few years ago and should have been passed in 2019 yet was removed from parliamentary deliberation at the last minute.

The clip of a group of policemen torturing and killing a drug suspect by using a plastic bag to suffocate him in this latest case should spur parliament into passing this law as soon as possible.

The group of policemen has also been also accused of demanding a huge bribe from the drug suspect. Of course, there is no justification for corruption and bribe-taking.

Yet corruption is also a result of a lack of sufficient welfare and security for police.

When it comes down to remuneration and welfare, police who are front-line law enforcers receive less pay compared to other law enforcers such as judges.

Police reportedly have to buy their own work equipment and low-ranking officers suffer from financial problems too. The issue of better welfare for law enforcers also needs to be addressed.

Society has experienced more than enough gross malfeasance by our men in khaki since the notorious Blue Diamond Affair over three decades ago and the recent Boss Red Bull saga, a notorious hit-and-run case.

Society is fed up, while the credibility of the RTP is almost beyond repair. The RTP cannot afford to make a mistake. Failure is not the option; not this time.


Bangkok Post editorial column

These editorials represent Bangkok Post thoughts about current issues and situations.

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