On Thanakorn’s enforced disappearance

13 12 2015

Released by Asian Human Rights Commission:

AHRC-FST- 044-2015
December 12, 2015

A Statement from Thai Lawyers for Human Rights (TLHR) forwarded by the Asian Human Rights Commission

THAILAND: Public Statement on the Enforced Disappearance of Mr. Thanakorn Siripaiboon

Mr. Thanakorn Siripaiboon, a factory worker in a private company, was arrested from his workplace in Samut Prakan on 8 December 2015. He was accused by Maj Gen Wijarn Jodtaeng and Colonel Burin Thongprapai, legal officers of the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) for violating Section 14 of the 2007 Computer Crime Act (CCA) and Sections 112 (lese majeste) and 116 (sedition) of the Penal Code as a result of his postings about alleged corruption in the construction of the Rajabhakti Park.

The Thai Lawyers for Human Rights (TLHR) has been contacted by his relatives and asked to give legal assistance on 9 December 2015. We have made an inquiry to the Nakhon Chaisri temporary remand facility located in the 11th Military Circle, and were informed by the custodian officer that Mr. Thanakorn was not being held in custody there and they had no idea of his whereabouts. Meanwhile, a plain-cloth military officer from an unknown unit has informed us that Mr. Thanakorn was being held in custody invoking Section 44 of the 2014 Interim Constitution, though he could not provide more information about his whereabouts.

The following day on 11 December 2015, Mr. Thanakorn’s relatives were informed by the Samut Prakan police that the case had been reported to the Crime Suppression Division (CSD) and advised that they contact the authority. TLHR has thus approached the Subdivision 2 of the CSD but could not find Mr. Thanakorn. We were informed by the CSD police that the case had been reported to them and the arrest warrant against Mr. Thanakorn was issued, but he was not yet sent to police custody.

Since the arrest of Mr. Thanakorn on 8 December 2015 until the present, for over four days, even though his relatives and the TLHR lawyers have been looking for him, but we have not been informed any detail formally by the concerned authorities and could not contact Mr. Thanakorn. We have no idea where the military authorities have Mr. Thanakorn held in custody. His fates remain unknown.

The TLHR has found the deprivation of liberty against an individual by the military officer invoking the Order of the Head of the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) No. 3/2015 concerning the maintenance of public order and national security which allows the holding in custody of an individual for not longer than seven days in an undisclosed location a breach to the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance (CED) which has been acceded to by Thailand since 9 January 2012. The act concerns the deprivation of liberty of an individual by state authorities and the subsequent concealment of the location where the person is being held subjecting him to a fate beyond the protection of the law. Since the Order has become effective, there has been no cases that either the Peace and Order Maintenance officer or the military officer who have made the arrest declare formally where they have the person held in custody. Therefore, it has to be assumed that Mr. Thanakorn Siripaiboon has become a victim of enforced disappearance since 8 December 2015.

The deprivation of liberty against an individual and the detention in an undisclosed location have made the individual vulnerable to many other rights violations including torture or extrajudicial killing. It also deprives the person of safeguards to protect his fundamental rights including the right to legal counsel, the right to have visit by relatives, the right to communicate with outside world, the right to seek judicial review to determine the lawfulness of his detention, etc. The act can be construed as arbitrary arrest and detention and violates Thailand’s obligations as per the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) to which Thailand is a state party and violates Section 4 of the Constitution of the Kingdom of Thailand (Interim), B.E. 2557 (2014) promulgated by the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) to recognize the rights and freedoms traditionally enjoyed by the people as far as the international obligations are concerned.

The TLHR calls on the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) to respect the Constitution and the international obligations declared to their own people and the international community. They should cease to invoke the powers to make arrest and detention under the Order of the Head of NCPO No. 3/2015 and to disclose the place where a person is being detained. This will ensure that all people have access to the right to judicial process as guaranteed by Article 14 of the ICCPR.