This time we’ll begin to examine how your rights are protected if something goes wrong with the arrest. We’re going to do this initially bylooking at some fictitious examples. The first fictitious example is where the police come to your door. They have a warrant to arrest someone at a nearby address and they simply make a mistake. They tell you must come with them and you do. On the way you call a Thai friend who meets you at the police station. The friend is told your identification must be verified and your passport is taken. You are then kept in a waiting room for six hours.
After this, without any explanation, your passport is returned and you are told to go home. This is a borderline case. If you lodged a complaint, such as in the cases discussed below, and the official in charge decided that the police officers involved acted in good faith, without serious negligence, you can’t do much about it, despite the inconvenience to you. But read on. The second fictitious example is where you’re in a restaurant with some friends. One of them has a running feud with a local police officer, who happens also to be in the same restaurant.
The officer comes over to your table and speaks Thai to your friend. They are both Thai and you don’t understand what is said, but before you know it, the officer has arrested everyone at the table. Outside the restaurant the officer pulls out a nightstick, swings it at your friend, but hits you instead, breaking your arm. In a few minutes a uniformed police sergeant happens by and sees what has occurred. He berates the police officer, who disappears. He then apologizes and releases everyone. From earlier columns you know that the arrest was improper, because it would have required a warrant.
You have a number of options:
– Police officers wrongfully or dishonestly discharging their duties are subject to criminal penalties of up to ten years in jail and a fine. You could, therefore, go to the Public Prosecutor, complain of the policeman’s behavior, and ask that he be prosecuted.
– Under the Act on Liability for Wrongful Acts of Officials, you could claim compensation for your broken arm with the Royal Thai Police Office.
– The police have internal rules that protect the rights of individuals and punish officers violating these rules. You could initiate an investigation against the offending officer, by lodging a complaint with the Office of the Inspector General of the Royal Thai Police. What if the officer in this case had been off-duty when the incident occurred? Unlike the above case the police officer would not be considered discharging the duties of a police officer. He would thus not be exposed to the criminal penalties mentioned above. Also, since he was not acting in an official capacity, you could not make a claim for your injuries against the Royal Thai Police Office.
Here is what you could do. The Criminal Code of Thailand provides that anyone, police officer or otherwise, who commits grievous bodily harm to another is subject to a criminal penalty of up to ten years’ imprisonment and, in effect, to pay damages to the person injured. You could, therefore, complain to the Public Prosecutor, who could prosecute the police officer. Even though the officer was off duty, moreover, he did arrest someone as though he had been on duty and can be disciplined if the arrest was improper. You could, therefore, lodge a complaint against him with the Office of the Inspector General of the Royal Thai Police for arresting you without a warrant. Chavalit Finch & Partners, Ltd. are lawyers specializing in real estate and business transactions.
They can be contacted by email at email@example.com, on the web at www.chavalitfinchlaw.com or by telephone at +66 (0) 32 522-237 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting +66 (0) 32 522-237 end_of_the_skype_highlighting, (0) 32 522-273 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting (0) 32 522-273 end_of_the_skype_highlighting. Their offices are located at 19/51 Hua Hin Soi 19, (Wat Klaikangwon), Petch Kasem Road, Hua Hin, Prachuab Kirikhan 77110, Thailand. James Finch’s cell number is +66 (0) 89 207-9390 begin_of_the_skype_ highlighting +66 (0) 89 207-9390 end_of_the_skype_ highlighting.