"--IANS/EFE"
Bangkok, April 30 - Amnesty International - Wednesday urged Thailand to put an end to widespread torture in the country and enforce legislation to recognise torture and other inhuman treatment as a criminal offence.

Torture and other ill-treatment are still endemic problems across Thailand, and the fact that torture is not yet recognized as a crime highlights the need for the government to take concerted action, said Rupert Abbott, Amnesty International's deputy director for Asia Pacific.

The organisation's appeal comes Wednesday, the same day UN starts review of Thailand's fulfillment of its obligations set out by the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment.

AI said it has documented mistreatment of prisoners in police and military custody and poor conditions in prisons and detention centres, where refugees and immigrants are retained indefinitely and are vulnerable to torture.

The Thai human rights commission received 134 torture complaints between 2007 and 2013, 75 percent of them in the country's southern provinces where a separatist Muslim insurgency is most active, according to the organization.

Impunity is the norm for torture cases, with only a handful of suspected perpetrators held to account and in the absence of the criminalization of torture tried under charges such as assault, AI said in a statement.

Abbott called on Thai authorities to take practical measures against torture, as its criminalization, bringing offenders to justice and giving access to remedies.

AI also asked that the government open the detention centres for independent scrutiny organisations and urged the authorities to ratify the optional protocol to the convention against torture.

--IANS/EFE

ab/dg


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