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Capsule Review

In Plain Sight: Impunity and Human Rights in Thailand

In This Review

In Plain Sight: Impunity and Human Rights in Thailand
In Plain Sight: Impunity and Human Rights in Thailand
By Tyrell Haberkorn
University of Wisconsin Press, 2018, 376 pp. Purchase

This deeply researched history focuses not so much on the human rights violations that have occurred in Thailand during its frequent episodes of military rule but on the mechanisms by which the perpetrators have avoided accountability. These have included legalizing the arbitrary detention of purported “enemies of the nation,” “hooligans,” and persons considered a “danger to society”; author­izing summary executions when necessary to “defend the nation”; giving the police the discretion to do anything they want in the name of eliminating communism; holding blameless any person acting in the line of duty; dismissing cases as falling outside the jurisdiction of the courts or for insufficient evidence; and declaring amnesties. The legal techniques have varied, but their purpose has stayed the same: to protect the monarchistic elite and its agents. Haberkorn argues that repression is all the more effective when the authorities openly twist the law to protect the perpetrators. The more blatant the impunity, the stronger the message that victims have no hope of redress.

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