Thailand’s Anti-Torture Bill Could Finally End Refugee Push-Backs

Thailand took a momentous step on 24 August  —not only because of a shock decision by the Constitutional Court to suspend Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha from his duties, but also because parliament finally passed a historic anti-torture bill.

Once fully enacted, the Bill, formally known as the Act on Prevention and Suppression of Torture and Enforced Disappearances, will give effect to the provisions of the U.N. Convention Against Torture and enable Thailand’s ratification of this keystone human rights treaty.

What’s been overlooked in the debate surrounding this new law is the impact it may have on Thailand’s problematic refugee policies and practices. Significantly, Section 13 of the new legislation enshrines in Thai law the principle of non-refoulement, an international legal principle that prohibits states from returning refugees, asylum seekers, and other individuals to situations where they may face the risk of torture and other grave human rights abuses. 

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