In February of this 12 months, the Thai Military launched a brand new initiative to fight corruption and abuse inside its ranks—a 24-hour hotline that studies on to the Military Chief Basic, Apirat Kongsompong. This initiative was created within the wake of a stunning incident wherein a soldier killed 29 folks after a dispute together with his commanding officer. The brand new hotline, whereas not nameless, was set as much as present Military whistleblower confidentiality and work at the side of Nationwide Anti-Corruption Fee, the place complaints can be transferred if exterior of the Military’s jurisdiction.
In rolling out this new program, Basic Nattapol was quoted as saying: “[T]he Military is doing our greatest…This isn’t a public stunt.” Nevertheless, in mild of the therapy of one of many first main complaints that was submitted by means of this channel, this assertion couldn’t be farther from the reality.
As reported by Human Rights Watch, Sgt. Narongchai Intharakawi filed a number of complaints with the brand new hotline simply two months after it was created, alleging fraud involving employees allowances on the Military Ordnance Materiel Rebuild Heart. Nevertheless, no motion was taken on his complaints. Then, regardless of the promised confidentiality of the hotline, Sgt. Narongchai Intharakawi started receiving demise threats and was knowledgeable that he can be going through a disciplinary inquiry for “undermining unity throughout the military and damaging his unit’s popularity.” This inquiry was nothing however a sham, meant to intimidate Sgt. Narongchai Intharakawi. In truth, a leaked video of the inquiry exhibits Sgt. Narongchai Intharakawi’s superior immediately threatening him for reporting, together with by stating: “You could possibly get away this time, however there isn’t a subsequent time for you.”
As a result of in any case of this Sgt. Narongchai Intharakawi moderately feared for his private security, he fled his publish and publicized his expertise, together with by making a report back to the Thai Parliament’s Committee on Authorized Affairs, Justice, and Human Rights.
As an alternative of ceasing retaliation because of the new publicity round Sgt. Narongchai Intharakawi’s case, the Military has doubled down: They’ve requested a army court docket warrant his arrest him for delinquency in his duties. Underneath this cost Sgt. Narongchai Intharakawi might withstand seven years in jail in addition to a dishonorable discharge.
This abhorrent therapy of a whistleblower will make the Military’s new system fully ineffectual and nothing greater than symbolic piece of propaganda, discouraging any future whistleblowers from coming ahead for concern they are going to be handled the identical manner. In an effort to make proper their grievous actions, the Thai Military should abandon all expenses in opposition to Sgt. Narongchai Intharakawi, difficulty a proper apology for the breach of confidentiality, and self-discipline these accused of taking part within the retaliation.
Sgt. Narongchai Intharakawi is a hero for stepping out and attempting to report corruption below a brand new, untested system and must be handled as such each in Thailand and globally.
Copyright Kohn, Kohn & Colapinto, LLP 2020. All Rights Reserved.