Annex: The death in custody of Abduldayib Dolah
This annex consists of the details of a single illustrative case of a death in custody in the south of Thailand due to suspected torture that was among a number of annexures to the original report featured in this issue of article 2 on ‘Torture in Thailand’s deep south’.
At 8am on 4 December 2015, relatives of Abduldayib Dolah, who was being held in custody at the Ingkhayuthaborihan Military Camp, Pattani, in the deep south of Thailand, were informed that he had died while deprived of his liberty.
Abduldayib Dolah, 45 years, from Ban Mai, Tambon Kolotanyong, Nongchik District, Pattani, was apprehended on November 11 that year at 1am. His relatives sought help from the Muslim Attorney Centre Foundation and the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) on November 12. Later, they had been visiting him in detention. The last visit took place on December 3.
At 10am on the day of the death, the Internal Security Operations Command (ISOC) Region 4 contacted the Duayjai Group and a few other civil society organizations to observe the investigation of his body at the Ingkhayutthaborihan Military Camp, Pattani, together with his relatives.
After the autopsy as provided for by Section 150 of the Criminal Procedure Code, an attempt was made to clarify the matter with his relatives since from looking at the appearance of his body, one could not determine the cause of his death. After coordination with staff from the NHRC and the forensic medicine center of the Prince of Songkhla University, Hatyai, the relatives consented to having the body examined by a forensic doctor around 1pm. After that, the body was retrieved for religious rites the same day. However, for religious reasons the family did not allow the forensic doctor to conduct a full autopsy, only allowing the taking of blood, examination of blood stains on the deceased man’s chest, sperm stains, and saliva to test DNA.
Two days after Abduldayib’s death, the local army unit set up an investigative committee, and on December 16 it organized a press conference with the forensicdoctor and released the finding that the cause of the death was not found. Abduldayib’s wife then submitted a letter to the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture, as follows.
25 December 2015
Dear UN Special Rapporteur on Torture
Subject: A request for an inquiry into the death of
Mr. Abduldayib Dolah whose death in custody took place in the Ingkhayutthaborihan Military Camp and asking for justice
On 11 October 2015, at 01.30am, combined forces of the military with over 100 officers laid siege to the house no. 35/1 Moo 1, Ban Kolo Tanyong, Nong Chik District, Pattani, while I and my husband (the deceased) were sleeping in there with our three children. The officers with their threatening voice asked us to open the door and came in to search the house. Though no illegal things were found, they decided to apprehend my husband and took his ID card, 170 Baht of cash and one mobile phone.
Prior to this, our house had been cordoned off four times and I was told that my husband had been involved with narcotic trade, though no illicit articles had been found in each search. But the sieges had terrified our family and our relatives since the military officers came wearing their facemasks.
On 12 October 2015, I was able to visit my husband and gave him support. We were able to talk normally and I could not recall any abnormal things that happened to him.
On 13 October 2015, I went to visit him as normal, but was unable to ask for his wellbeing since the military officers sat by and listened to the entire conversation.
On 14 October 2015, I could only visit him for ten minutes and was barely able to talk with him.
During his custody at the Ingkhayuthaborihan Military Camp, I managed to visit him every day. During the last week prior to his death, I could observe how he was consumed by his stress and fear as he disclosed to me that he had been subjected to intense questioning by the officers. He said he felt so desperate and scared. He also said that he had been subjected to intimidation and forced to make a confession to being complicit in a criminal case. I did not ask him which case he was talking about and where it took place. But he said he did not admit to doing it since he had not done it. He disclosed to my visiting relatives that during the interrogation, he felt so hopeless. I asked him back when did the interrogation take place? And he said it happened around 1.00-2.30am. I then told him to be patient and that he would be discharged in the next few days.
On 4 December 2015 at 7.30am, local military officers came to meet me at my home telling me that I could pick up my husband. I was so delighted as all members in my family and my children were looking forward to welcoming him home and to living together again. Then, I was slightly taken aback as the officers told me to ride with them in the same car with the Village Headman, whereas my other relative was to ride in another vehicle. I thought in my mind that there must be something wrong. Upon arrival at the Ingkhayutthaborihan Military Camp, I saw a number of military officers standing there and the Village Headman whispered to me that my husband had died. I was so overwhelmed by grief and had no idea what to do further. I had never expected this to happen.
My husband was innocent and hardworking; he always worked to raise his family and had to look after three children and one adopted orphan. Why did the authorities have to treat him like this? And the death of my husband was not the first death in custody in a military camp. Then, the military officers arranged the body examination bringing in a physician from the Ingkhayutthaborihan Military Camp Hospital to carry out the procedure. While the examination was conducted, I had already presumed that the result would turn out that way. I was convinced there were so many doubts about the death of my husband. I decided to ask for advice from the Muslim Attorney Centre (MAC) in Pattani and to arrange for the autopsy of the body at the Hatyai Hospital to seek justice for my husband. The autopsy was conducted from 14.30-15.00 and my relatives asked the physician to examine traces outside the body, DNA samples from his saliva, semen, bloodstain on parts of his body, and watery fluid in his eyes to detect any chemical residue. During the body examination, it turned out that military officers were guarding outside the room and had some quarrel with the physician from time to time. At 15.00, the examination was completed and his body was taken outside the room and had been retrieved to perform religious rites.
Two days after the death, I learned an independent inquiry committee was set up by the Internal Security Operations Command Region (ISOC Region 4) to look into the case led by civilian officers at the provincial level. But the establishment and procedure was without any participation from relatives of the deceased. The wife and relatives of the deceased also proposed that international human rights agencies or the United Nations should be involved with the inquiry process, but the proposal was flatly turned down even though it is important the inquiry is conducted by persons who could command confidence and trust from the family.
On day two of the meeting of the inquiry committee, the officers sent an invitation to me and other relatives of the deceased asking us to participate, but I refused to do so since I had no trust in the process and did not believe the inquiry committee set up by the state was independent and able to work straight forwardly to uncover the truth. I thought, to ensure justice, it must begin with the acknowledgement of the reality. There have been many lessons learned from previous incidents in the Deep South including the Tak Bai incident, the torture of Imam Yapa Kaseng, the unprovoked firing at villagers who were on the way back from a funeral at Ban Pulo Puyo and the death in custody of Mr. Sulaiman Nasae. It reflects the constraints of the state mechanisms and how such mechanisms lack independence and have failed to bring justice to the victims and society as a whole. I therefore refused to participate in the meeting of the inquiry committee until the UN mechanism is invited to take part in fathoming the truth.
On 16 December 2015, when the result of the physical examination of my husband was announced at the Hatyai Hospital. The physician said the cause of death could not be determined. I and other relatives were overwhelmingly disappointed since there were so many doubts about the death of my husband including that his death occurred in a holding cell and [due to] his last appearance:
(1) He lay with hands contracted as if he had been subjected to stimulation by some device. In a normal circumstance, when a person dies, the muscles should go loose and the hands should lie low. (2) The prayer mat (sue da jao) under the body looked crooked as if it had been tugged. (3) On his body, bloodstains could be found though the physician was unable to determine who the blood belonged to since there were no wounds found on the body. (4) On the last day he lay dead, he appeared to wear two shirts with the inner one a white t-shirt and outer one a buttoned-up long-sleeved shirt. Habitually, my husband had never worn two shirts at the same time. I and the relatives assumed that he was brought into the room for questioning and was tortured to death. Then, they put the shirts on him and arranged his posture to pretend he had died of a natural cause. The physician told me his death would have happened around 02-4.00am, during which time he was subjected to the interrogation of the officers. The information was contrary to what the military said, that he died around the morning prayer time at 05.30am.
This case shows how Thailand’s justice process fails to provide justice. The inquiry committee has been set up with limited power and has to work through an unaccountable process without any consultation or input from the relatives of the deceased. As the wife of the deceased, I urge that international mechanisms including the UN should be part of the effort to investigate the death to ensure justice.
Mrs. Kurosmao Tuwaebusa
(Wife of the deceased)