Missing the missing

7 09 2020

A report on missing and unidentified persons is a wholly uncritical account of a “digital sketch exhibition … to raise public awareness about missing people through the display of artwork.”

The event is organized Pol Col Chaiwat Burana, a superintendent at the Criminal Records Division of the Royal Thai Police.Pol Col Chaiwat organised the exhibition.It is stated that “[t]he police hope the sketches might attract other witnesses in the incident, whose testimonies will add weight to the case and raise the chance of conviction against the suspects.”

While it might be useful to raise awareness of missing persons and the unidentified, as far as we can tell from the report, the exhibition includes none of those who have been lost to enforced disappearance.

Where is Wanchalearm? Where are the scores of others? The UN Working Group on Enforced and Involuntary Disappearances reports 82 unresolved cases of enforced disappearances in Thailand since 1980.

Where is Wanchalearm? Clipped from Prachatai

These include Somchai Neelapaijit in 2004, Karen land rights defender Porlajee “Billy” Rakchongcharoen in 2014 and political activists Siam Theerawut, Chucheep Chivasut and Kritsana Thapthai during 2018-19.

Where is Surachai?

Clipped from Thai Alliance for Human Rights website

Where are Ittipon Sukpaen aka DJ Sunho, Wuthipong Kachathamakul aka Ko Tee, Chatchan Bubphawan aka Comrade Phuchana, and Kraidej Luelert aka Comrade Kasalong?

Remarkably, the exhibition does show “the face[s] of two suspects in the deadly explosion at the Erawan Shrine at Ratchaprasong intersection in 2014.” These two are “missing” in custody. Their trial has been delayed and delayed since, with the two held in custody. The exhibition seems to admit that the police have insufficient evidence to convict them yet detains them for almost six years.

Justice is difficult to come by.





A legal roundup

31 12 2015

The Nation reports that nine of the activists  who took part in a trip to Rajabhakti – Corruption – Park to “check out allegations of corruption”  have postponed meeting authorities for the second time. Two did show up and denied the charges. None of the 11 showed up when first called. The military regime is unamused.

Khaosod reports that the Ministry of Defense “investigation” of Corruption Park “found no irregularity…”. General Charnchai Changmongkol “explained that the committee only looked at transactions made during the construction, so it was beyond their duty to see whether some sophisticated corruption might have taken place.” In case you are confused by this, Gen. Charnchai explained: “We cannot say what is right, what is wrong…”.

Prachatai reports that the Supreme Court confirmed the impunity enjoyed by state murderers and “has acquitted five police officers allegedly involved in the enforced disappearance of Somchai Neelapaijit, a Muslim human rights lawyer.” After 11 years of legal battlese, the Court “confirmed the Appeal Court acquittal of five policemen accused of involvement in the enforced disappearance of Somchai.” In yet another act of legal calisthenics that defines the judiciary, the Court “also ruled that the Neelapaijit family cannot act as joint plaintiff on Somchai’s behalf because it cannot be confirmed that he was murdered or injured to the extent that he is unable to act for himself.” In addition, decisions by the courts mean that “the current law only recognizes a murder case when there is a dead body.” State official will continue to hide bodies.

The Bangkok Post reports that the Civil Court has confirmed former defence minister ACM Sukumpol Suwanatat’s dismissal of former prime minister Abhisit Vejajjiva from the army reserve and stripping him of his military rank “on the grounds he did not go through the conscription process as required by law.” THe report states that “Abhisit … presented a fake Sor Dor 9 document, issued to males aged 17 and registering  them for the draft…”. He “dodged conscription…”. How very royalist elite of him.

More significantly, though, this same faker and liar is reported at Prachatai as being cleared by the National Anti-Corruption Commission of responsibility “for ordering the violent military crackdown on the anti-establishment red-shirt protesters during the April-May 2010 political violence.” Suthep Thaugsuban, his former Deputy, was also cleared, along with then Army boss General Anupong Paojinda. The NACC “has reached a resolution to withdraw corruption and malfeasance allegations against Abhisit, Suthep, Gen Anupong … and other military officers under his command.” The basis for the decision is “that the 2010 red shirt protest was not peaceful and that there were [unknown and unidentified] armed militants among the demonstrators.” The murder of demonstrators was considered to have been in accordance with “international standards…”.

The Bangkok Post reports that the military dictatorship “is fed up with [Ms Yingluck Shinawatra’s] behaviour delaying the investigation. She has asked for more witnesses three times, now totalling dozens of individuals…” in order to “to stave seizure of her personal assets as compensation for her administration’s rice-pledging scheme.” The junta seems far less concerned that Suthep repeatedly fails to show up for court cases against him and Abhisit.

Double standards? Bucket loads of them. Judicial bias and politicization? You bet.





Updated: Impunity and violence

24 04 2014

Recent events suggest the importance of understanding violence and the impunity of its perpetrators who are usually state officials or goons associated with state and royalist projects, often in the name of protecting nation or monarchy.

The disappearance of “Porchalee Rakchongcharoen, an ethnic Karen also known as “Billy,” is involved in a lawsuit that accuses Kaeng Krachan Park authorities of damaging the property and homes of more than 20 Karen families living inside the park” again raises questions about state officials solving “problems” by enforced disappearance.

Of course, this is almost a “standard practice” condemned by human rights organizations for many years, but producing little change amongst officials and the military. More than a year ago, the Asian Legal Resource Center made the UN’s Human Rights Council aware of the importance of continued action to end enforced disappearance in Thailand. It pointed out that “[d]ocumented cases indicate that enforced disappearances of citizens, including human rights defenders, dissidents, and ordinary people, have been carried out by Thai state security forces for over forty years.” Somchai Neelaphaijit’s case is just one of dozens that has received considerable attention but no action.

State violence is made more likely because of impunity, and we can mention state violence against protesters in Bangkok in 2010, 1992, 1976 and 1973 and add to the sorry list the cases of state murders at Kru Se, Tak Bai and in the so-called War on Drugs in the fourteen short years of this century as examples. The assassination of political opponents has been unfortunately common, highlighted by the recent murder of anti-lese majeste activist Kamol Duangphasuk.

In all of this, PPT was pleased to see that Tyrell Haberkorn raised these issues at the International Conference on Thai Studies, with a panel on “The State, Violence and the Unspeakable in Thailand.” Dr. Haberkorn has a list of publications that address all of the issues raised above. Unfortunately, the papers in this session do not appear amongst those available at the Conference website.

Update: We added some additional links to the post.





Angkhana’s open letter to Yingluck on human rights/อังคณา นีละพิจิตร เรียกร้องนายกรัฐมนตรี

11 03 2013

An Open Letter from the Justice for Peace Foundation to Prime Minister of Thailand forwarded by the Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC)

THAILAND: Angkhana Neelapaijit urges Prime Minister to not allow the culture of impunity in Thailand regarding Disappearance lawyer Somchai 9 years anniversary

10 March 2013

Her Excellency, the Prime Minister, Ms. Yingluck Shinawatra

Dear Madam Prime Minister,

My name is Angkhana Neelapaijit, wife of Mr. Somchai Neelapaijit, a human rights lawyer who had given legal aid to alleged offenders in security related cases in Thailand’s Southern Border Provinces. Mr. Somchai was abducted by police officers on 12 March 2004, after he lodged his complaints regarding the alleged abuse of alleged offenders by the police. After the enforced disappearance of Mr. Somchai, the Former Prime Minister, Pol Lt Col Thaksin Shinawatra admitted that he might have died. The Department of Special Investigation (DSI) accepted to work on the case of Mr. Somchai as a special case since 19 July 2005. Pol Gen Sombat Amonrwiwat, former DSI Director General, was the person in charge of the investigation. Eight years past, the case now falls under the charge of the current DSI Director General, Mr. Tharit Pengdit and you, as the PM is the Chairperson of the Committee on Special Cases ex officio. Yet, the investigation has so far born no fruit.

Previously, I have written to inquire the Minister of Justice, Pol Gen Pracha Promnok regarding progress in the investigation of Mr. Somchai’s case. Then, he gave me a one pager summary prepared by DSI indicating that there has been no progress as to the investigation in order to bring the perpetrators to justice. This happens so despite that the case has been handled by DSI for eight years.

Your Excellency, you may not be aware, but the enforced disappearance of Mr. Somchai was the first case of its kind in Thailand that affected parties have been able to get the case prosecuted and indicted. In addition, his case is not just known in Thailand, but all over the world. It is a public case that has massively compromised trust in Thailand’s justice process and the upholding of human rights and the rule of law in Thailand. It has elicited salient attention from national and international rights organizations all along, including the United Nations and the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) since it was a crime of enforced disappearance committed by law enforcement officers. And apart from the five police officers who are the accused in this case, it is believed that a number of high ranking police officers were involved and have not been brought to justice.

Nevertheless, I would like to commend your government for signing a landmark international instrument, the UN International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance on 9 January 2012. The ascension to the treaty indicates a very important determination to uphold human rights in Thailand through the prevention of enforced disappearance. In addition, in September 2012, the cabinet agreed to provide the amount of 7.5 millions baht as remedies to the family of Mr. Somchai Neelapaijit. In the same occasion, the amount of 500,000 – 7.5 millions baht were provided for 30 families of those disappeared in Southern Border Provinces. It is believed that they were made disappeared by government officers.

I would like to express my sincere appreciation that your government has decided to provide remedies to people whose human rights have been affected by governmental officers including the enforced disappearance cases in the Southern Border Provinces. Remedies are an indispensible right of the victims. But apart from upholding the right to access truth, it is equally important to uphold justice and ensure that there shall be no recurrence of human rights violation. And monetary remedies alone are not enough to erase the trauma and wound in the hearts of the survivors. I fervently believe that only through access to truth and justice that dignity of the survivors shall be restored and it would lead to lasting forgiveness and reconciliation.

I am writing this letter to you as you are the highest leadership of the country and as you are in charge of DSI. I want to bring to your attention the ineffectiveness and unwillingness of the government and DSI to solve the case of Mr. Somchai. It is too obvious that in recent time, DSI has simply been concentrating on political cases, particularly cases against the opposition party, but at the same time, has been neglecting and giving no proper attention to cases that affect ordinary people, even though they are victims of human rights abuse perpetuated by government officers who take side with the government.

Last but not least, I really hope that you as the PM are willing to listen to voice of people who have been abused by governmental officers. The abuses took place during the tenure of those leaderships from the same political party as yours. I sincerely hope that you shall be responsible for what happened and shall not be discriminating in the enforcement of law and will not allow the culture of impunity to perpetuate in Thailand.

Yours sincerely,

Ms. Angkhana Neelapaijit

จดหมายเปิดผนึกโดยมูลนิธิยุติธรรมเพื่อสันติภาพ ส่งต่อโดยคณะกรรมาธิการสิทธิมนุษยชนแห่งเอเชีย (Asian Human Rights Commission: AHRC)

ประเทศไทย: อังคณา นีละพิจิตร เรียกร้องนายกรัฐมนตรีไม่อนุญาตให้มีการได้รับการยกเว้นโทษในประเทศไทยเนื่องในวาระครบรอบการ

10 มีนาคม 2556

เรียน ท่านนายกรัฐมนตรี นางสาวยิ่งลักษณ์ ชินวัตร

ดิฉัน นางอังคณา นีละไพจิตร ภรรยานายสมชาย นีละไพจิตร ทนายความสิทธิมนุษยชนที่ให้ความช่วยเหลือทางคดีแก่ผู้ต้องหาคดีความมั่นคงในจังหวัดชายแดนภาคใต้ ซึ่งถูกลักพาตัวโดยเจ้าหน้าที่ตำรวจเมื่อวันที่ ๑๒ มีนาคม ๒๕๔๗ หลังจากที่นายสมชายได้ร้องเรียนเรื่องการที่เจ้าหน้าที่ตำรวจซ้อมทรมานผู้ต้องหา ภายหลังการหายตัวไปของนายสมชาย พ.ต.ท.ทักษิณ ชินวัตร ได้ยอมรับว่านายสมชาย นีละไพจิตรเสียชีวิตแล้ว และกรมสอบสวนคดีพิเศษได้รับคดีสมชายไว้เป็นคดีพิเศษตั้งแต่วันที่ ๑๙ กรกฎาคม ๒๕๔๘ โดยได้มอบหมายให้พล.ต.อ.สมบัติ อมรวิวัฒน์ อธิบดีกรมสอบสวนคดีพิเศษในขณะนั้นเป็นผู้รับผิดชอบคดี จนถึงปัจจุบันผ่านมา ๘ ปีคดีสมชาย นีละไพจิตร ภายใต้ความรับผิดชอบของอธิบดีกรมสอบสวนคดีพิเศษ ที่ปัจจุบันมีนายธาริต เพ็งดิษ เป็นอธิบดีและท่านนายกรัฐมนตรี ในฐานะประธานคณะกรรมการคดีพิเศษไม่ปรากฏความก้าวหน้าใดๆในทางการสืบสวนสอบสวน

ที่ผ่านมา ดิฉันได้เคยเรียนถามท่านรัฐมนตรีว่าการกระทรวงยุติธรรม พลตำรวจเอกประชา พรหมนอก ถึงความก้าวหน้าคดีสมชาย ซึ่งท่านรัฐมนตรีว่าการกระทรวงยุติธรรมได้มอบเอกสารสรุปคดีสมชายจากกรมสอบสวนคดีพิเศษเป็นกระดาษ ๑ แผ่น สรุปความได้ว่า ไม่ปรากฏความก้าวหน้าใดๆในการสืบสวนสอบสวนเพื่อหาตัวผู้กระทำผิด ทั้งที่กรมสอบสวนคดีพิเศษรับดำเนินการคดีสมชาย นีละไพจิตร เป็นระยะเวลา ๘ ปี

ท่านนายกรัฐมนตรีอาจไม่ทราบว่า คดีสมชายเป็นคดีการบังคับบุคคลให้สูญหายคดีแรกของประเทศไทยที่เหยื่อสามารถต่อสู้จนคดีถูกนำขึ้นสู่การพิจารณาของศาลยุติธรรม คดีสมชาย นีละไพจิตร มิได้เป็นที่รับรู้เฉพาะในประเทศ แต่คดีนี้ถือเป็นคดีสาธารณะที่ส่งผลต่อประเด็นเรื่องความเชื่อมั่นในกระบวนการยุติธรรม สิทธิมนุษยชน และหลักนิติธรรมของประเทศไทย คดีสมชายได้รับความสนใจจากองค์กรสิทธิมนุษยชนทั้งในประเทศและระหว่างประเทศที่ให้ความสนใจและติดตามอย่างต่อเนื่อง รวมทั้งองค์การสหประชาชาติ และองค์การความร่วมมืออิสลาม (OIC) เนื่องจากคดีนี้เป็นคดีการลักพาตัวและบังคับบุคคลากรในกระบวนการยุติธรรมให้สูญหาย ซึ่งเกิดจากการกระทำของเจ้าหน้าที่รัฐในกระบวนการยุติธรรม ซึ่งนอกจากเจ้าหน้าที่ตำรวจ 5 นายที่ตกเป็นผู้ต้องหาในคดีแล้ว ยังมีผู้ที่เกี่ยวข้องที่เป็นเจ้าหน้าที่ตำรวจระดับสูงอีกหลายนายที่รัฐยังไม่สามารถนำตัวเข้าสู่กระบวนการยุติธรรมได้

อย่างไรก็ดี ดิฉันต้องขอชื่นชมรัฐบาลภายใต้การนำของท่านนายกรัฐมนตรี ที่ได้ลงนามอนุสัญญาระหว่างประเทศว่าด้วยการคุ้มครองบุคคลทุกคนมิให้สูญหายโดยถูกบังคับ (International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance) ขององค์การสหประชาชาติ เมื่อวันที่ ๙ มกราคม ๒๕๕๕ ซึ่งการลงนามในอนุสัญญาฯถือเป็นการแสดงเจตนารมณ์ด้านสิทธิมนุษยชนที่สำคัญยิ่งอีกครั้งหนึ่งของประเทศไทยในการคุ้มครองบุคคลจากการสูญหายโดยถูกบังคับ อีกทั้งเมื่อเดือนกันยายน ๒๕๕๕ คณะรัฐมนตรีได้มีมติให้เยียวยาเพื่อมนุษยธรรมครอบครัวสมชาย นีละไพจิตร เป็นจำนวนเงิน ๗.๕ ล้านบาท รวมถึงครอบครัวผู้ถูกบังคับสูญหายในจังหวัดชายแดนภาคใต้ที่เชื่อได้ว่าเกิดจากการกระทำของเจ้าหน้าที่รัฐอีก ๓๐ ครอบครัว เป็นจำนวนเงิน ๕๐๐,๐๐๐ – ๗.๕ ล้านบาท

ดิฉันขอแสดงความชื่นชมอย่างจริงใจ ที่รัฐบาลของท่านมีมติให้เยียวยาผู้ถูกละเมิดสิทธิมนุษยชนที่เกิดจากการกระทำของเจ้าหน้าที่รัฐ รวมถึงกรณีการบังคับสูญหายในจังหวัดชายแดนภาคใต้ เพราะการเยียวยาเป็นสิทธิสำคัญประการหนึ่งของเหยื่อ นอกเหนือจากสิทธิในการเข้าถึงความจริง ความยุติธรรมและการสร้างหลักประกันว่าการละเมิดสิทธิมนุษยชนดังกล่าวจะไม่เกิดซ้ำ แต่การเยียวยาด้วยเงินเพียงอย่างเดียวไม่อาจขจัดความทรงจำบาดแผลของเหยื่อให้หมดสิ้นไปได้ ดิฉันเชื่อว่าเฉพาะการเข้าถึงความจริง และความยุติธรรมเท่านั้นที่จะเป็นการคืนศักดิ์ศรีให้กับเหยื่อและจะสามารถนำสู่การให้อภัยและการปรองดองอย่างยั่งยืน

ดิฉันมีหนังสือฉบับนี้มายังท่านนายกรัฐมนตรีในฐานะที่ท่านเป็นผู้บริหารสูงสุดของประเทศ และเป็นผู้กำกับดูแลกรมสอบสวนคดีพิเศษ เพื่อเรียนให้ท่านทราบถึงความไร้ประสิทธิภาพและความไม่เต็มใจในการคลี่คลายคดี สมชาย นีละไพจิตร ของรัฐบาลและกรมสอบสวนคดีพิเศษ เพราะย่อมเป็นที่ประจักษ์แก่สังคมว่า ปัจจุบันกรมสอบสวนคดีพิเศษมุ่งเน้นและให้ความสำคัญในการทำคดีการเมืองโดยเฉพาะคดีที่เกี่ยวกับพรรคการเมืองฝ่ายตรงข้าม แต่ละเลย เลือกปฏิบัติ และไม่ให้ความสำคัญแก่คดีที่ประชาชนสามัญตกเป็นเหยื่อจากการละเมิดสิทธิมนุษยชนจากการกระทำของเจ้าหน้าที่รัฐ โดยเฉพาะเจ้าหน้าที่รัฐที่อยู่ในฟากรัฐบาล

ท้ายนี้ ดิฉันหวังอย่างยิ่งว่า ท่านในฐานะนายกรัฐมนตรีจะยินดีที่จะรับฟังเสียงคนสามัญที่ถูกละเมิดจากการกระทำของเจ้าหน้าที่รัฐที่เกิดขึ้นในรัฐบาลของท่านในอดีต จะรับผิด และรับผิดชอบในสิ่งที่เกิดขึ้น จะไม่เลือกปฏิบัติในการบังคับใช้กฎหมาย และจะไม่ปล่อยให้วัฒนธรรมผู้กระทำผิดลอยนวลยังคงเกิดขึ้นในสังคมไทย

ขอแสดงความนับถือ

นางอังคณา นีละไพจิตร





Five human rights defenders

9 07 2012

PPT passes on this emailed message as received:

Somchai Neelapajit Memorial Fund reveals Five Human Rights Defenders Shortlisted for its Award

(9 July 2012) The five shortlisted candidates for the 2012 Somchai Neelapajit Award are: 1. Ms Jittra Kotchadej Labour rights and political rights activist 2. Mr Rasada Manurasada Human rights lawyer for victims of violence in Southern Thailand and in other parts of the country 3. Mr Somyot Prueksakasemsuk Labor rights activist and political activist (currently detained in prison) 4. Mr Adisorn Kerdmongkol Expert on the rights of migrant workers 5. Udon Thani Environment Group Grassroots network of villagers that are defending the community rights from Potash Industry.

Out of these names, there will be one person/ group which will receive the 2012 Somchai Neelaphajit Award together with 50,000 Thai Baht. The other four will receive Outstanding Human Rights Defender Award with prize money of 10,000 Thai Baht.

Jon Ungpakorn, a Committee member and Founder of Somchai Neelapaijit Memorial Fund, said that Thailand has been suffering from problems concerning human rights violations from both state agencies as well as from state mechanisms. The five names that are shortlisted for this award are those that have fought to protect human rights bravely, vigorously, and at times they have put themselves in danger in order to defend human rights just like the disappeared human rights lawyer Somchai Neelapaijit. Somchai had fought on behalf of human rights principles until he was a victim of enforced disappearance. This award aims to honor and support human rights defenders who have dedicated their lives in working to protect human rights. It also aims to communicate to Thai society to recognize the important roles that these individuals/group play as well as to shed light on the human rights problems in Thailand.

The award giving ceremony will take place from 9.30am to 12.00pm on 11 July 2012 at Conference Room, 4th Floor, Thai Volunteer Service, Soi Rohitkul, Pracharat Bampen Road (Huay Kwang station MRT stop). Apart from the ceremony, there will be a panel discussion on the topic of “The road of struggle and experiences of Thai human rights defenders” by all five shortlisted individuals as well as a closing remark by Dr Charnvit Kasetsiri.

Somchai Neelapaijit Fund had opened up the public nomination for individuals and organizations to nominate people and organizations from February to April 2012. There are 20 individuals and organizations that have been nominated. They represented broad and diverse groups of human right defenders ranging from those working on community development, volunteering, and combating injustice. Five names have been shortlisted while one out of the five will be given the award. There are four criteria for the selection namely: 1) The recipient(s) of the award works to promote and protect the human rights on issues that are related to the public interest; 2) The recipient(s) has outstanding record; 3) The recipient(s) has not been given an award on human rights before; 4) The recipient(s) works on issue of human rights that is contemporary and are still discussed in the society and he/she has risk from being attacked or violated for his/her /their human rights work.

Somchai Neelapaijit Memorial Fund starts to give out Somchai Neelapaijit Award with the intention to honor and give support to those who play important roles and has dedicated them to promote and protect human rights in Thailand. The Fund also aims to provoke Thai society to see the importance and recognize the roles that human rights defenders play. The award is an open process whereby anyone can make nomination. This is the first year that the award is given out.

How to get to the Venue:

If you travel by MRT, get off at Huay Kwang MRT Stop. Get of exit to Pracharat Bampen Road. Take a motorcycle taxi to Summer Mansion. Thai Volunteer Service Building is at the far end of the Soi.

Please register your attendance at: http://bit.ly/PcbXyQ

For more information, please contact Ms Thaweeporn at 0898291167

See Google Map of the venue : http://goo.gl/maps/28De

Agenda of Somchai Neelaphaijit Awarding Ceremony 2012 

11 July 2012, 9.30am – 12.00pm

Conference Room, Fourth Floor, Thai Volunteer Service, Huay Kwang, Bangkok

9.30 – 10.00am: Registration

10.00-10.30am: Introduction by Master of Ceremony

•  Opening session by Ms Angkhana Neelaphaijit, Committee member of Somchai Neelaphaijit Memorial Fund

• History of Somchai Neelaphaijit’s fund and the Award by Jon Ungpakorn, Committee member of Somchai Neelaphaijit Memorial Fund

10.30 – 10.45am: Announcment and presentation of Somchai Neelapaijit Award and Certificates for Outstanding Human Rights Defenders

• Award presentation by Dr Charnvit Kasetsiri, historian professor and former Rector of Thammasat University

10.45am – 12.00pm: A panel discussion entiteld “On the Trail of Struggle: Lessons Learned from Human Rights Defenders” featuring:

• Awardee of Somchai Neelapaijit Award

• 4 Reciepients of Certificates for Outstanding Human Rights Defenders

• Moderated by Ruj Komonbut, assistant professor at the Faculty of Journalism and Mass Communication, Thammasat University and Committee member of Somchai Neelaphaijit Memorial Fund

12.00pm: Closing speech by Dr Charnvit Kasetsiri





Impunity and the judiciary

11 08 2011

According to a report carried by the Asian Human Rights Commission, it seems that the impunity enjoyed by officials is sanctioned by the courts.

As so vividly demonstrated in a recent BBC documentary on the bloody events of 2010,  officials in Thailand are almost never held to account for their illegal actions taken against civilians. Those illegal actions are usually undertaken in the name of the state and involve acts of repression.

The AHRC report is of a Bangkok court decision made on 10 August 2011 that sentenced Suderueman Malae to two years in jail for having “falsely implicated” Police Major General Chakthip Chaijinda in a case of alleged torture against Suderueman. Remarkably, the policeman was able to deny his involvement based on police records. According to the police record, although Chakthip led the unit responsible for the arrest and detention of Suderueman in February 2004, he was not listed as present when the alleged torture took place.  Clearly, the court decided to accept the police records – likely “inaccurate, and possibly fabricated” rather than the testimony of the victim.

Suderueman was one of the clients of disappeared human rights lawyer Somchai Neelaphaijit (for earlier accounts on Somchai’s case see here and here).

The AHRC has “unreservedly condemns this ruling” against Suderueman. Its reasons for this repudiation are provided in the linked account. It states:

The impunity for torture and other gross abuses of human rights that these men enjoy is guaranteed not only by assurances that they will not be held responsible, but also that arrangements exist to enable them to exact revenge upon those persons who have the temerity to complain.

Further, the AHRC observes that:

the human rights priorities of the state in Thailand are made patently clear: not to investigate alleged abuses of human rights but to investigate, prosecute and imprison persons who allege such abuses….

This is a message that people in Thailand already know well. Consequently, the number of complainants of extrajudicial killing, enforced disappearance, torture and other gross abuses of human rights in Thailand remain few, not because the incidence of such abuses is low but because only the bravest persons, or those thrust into the spotlight like Suderueman, speak out. Most of those who do complain never complete the process of bringing a case to court, withdrawing under a combination of threats and offers of money to remain silent. Of those who do, some end up like Suderueman, prosecuted for their victimhood. Others end up in hiding, or dead.

The AHRC is obviously correct to conclude that the courts are complicit in establishing and maintaining the state of impunity. They correctly state that “all the courts of Thailand have to offer … is contempt for basic human rights.”





Updated: AHRC has a new website

17 03 2011

Regular readers will be interested to know that the Asian Human Rights Commission has launched its new website.

Update: One of the first links on the new page is to the disappearance of Somchai Neelaphaijit and the multiple failures of the Thai justice system in this case.





Impunity

11 03 2011

One of the truly remarkable aspects of the Thai legal system is the manner in which state officials can have impunity from the law when they are doing the state’s dirty work. This has been demonstrated several times over several decades.

The most recent example involves the disappearance of human rights lawyer Somchai Neelaphaijit in 2004. The Bangkok Post reports that the Appeals Court has acquitted police officer Ngern Thongsuk of the Crime Suppression Division in the case concerning the Somchai’s disappearance.

In early 2006, the “Criminal Court sentenced Pol Maj Ngern to three years imprisonment for forcing others into submission.   The other four officers were acquitted because of lack of witnesses.”

Ngern is claimed by his relatives to have “disappeared after being swept away in a mudslide” in 2008, “following his release on bail.”  After many delays, “the Appeals Court acquitted Pol Maj Ngern of the charges, reasoning that the plaintiffs’ witnesses gave confusing statements which could not convince the court that the CSD officer had committed the offences as charged, giving him the benefit of the doubt.”

It seems there is seldom any justice when it is officials doing the work of the repressive state.





Threatening the already harmed

3 02 2011

The Asian Human Rights Commission reports even more disturbing events surrounding the already horrid case of disappeared lawyer Somchai Neelaphaijit. This is a small part of what they say:

On 21 January 2011 at the Criminal Court on Ratchadaphisek Road in Bangkok, representatives of all parties involved in the criminal proceedings in the case of the 12 March 2004 forcible disappearance of Somchai Neelaphaijit gathered to hear the verdict of the Appeal Court. However, for technical reasons the verdict was not read for a second time, and instead a new date for reading the verdict was set for February 7. Yet, it appears unlikely that the verdict will also be read on that date, and the Appeal Court’s ruling may not become known until much later in the year. Details of the further postponements in the case and consequences are contained in a new statement by the AHRC.

The AHRC is particularly concerned about the further delays in the case because they coincide with renewed threats to Somchai’s wife, Angkhana Neelaphaijit, and her family. The CCTV outside the front of the Neelaphaijit house has been broken for an extended period. The Department of Special Investigation (DSI), Ministry of Justice has taken responsibility for the family’s security, but has taken no action to fix it.

How much worse can this case get? The impunity of officials is unbelievable.

On 21 January 2011 at the Criminal Court on Ratchadaphisek Road in Bangkok, representatives of all parties involved in the criminal proceedings in the case of the 12 March 2004 forcible disappearance of Somchai Neelaphaijit gathered to hear the verdict of the Appeal Court. However, for technical reasons the verdict was not read for a second time, and instead a new date for reading the verdict was set for February 7. Yet, it appears unlikely that the verdict will also be read on that date, and the Appeal Court’s ruling may not become known until much later in the year. Details of the further postponements in the case and consequences are contained in a new statement by the AHRC: AHRC-STM-020-2011

The AHRC is particularly concerned about the further delays in the case because they coincide with renewed threats to Somchai’s wife, Angkhana Neelaphaijit, and her family. The CCTV outside the front of the Neelaphaijit house has been broken for an extended period. The Department of Special Investigation (DSI), Ministry of Justice has taken responsibility for the family’s security, but has taken no action to fix it.
On 21 January 2011 at the Criminal Court on Ratchadaphisek Road in Bangkok, representatives of all parties involved in the criminal proceedings in the case of the 12 March 2004 forcible disappearance of Somchai Neelaphaijit gathered to hear the verdict of the Appeal Court. However, for technical reasons the verdict was not read for a second time, and instead a new date for reading the verdict was set for February 7. Yet, it appears unlikely that the verdict will also be read on that date, and the Appeal Court’s ruling may not become known until much later in the year. Details of the further postponements in the case and consequences are contained in a new statement by the AHRC: AHRC-STM-020-2011 

The AHRC is particularly concerned about the further delays in the case because they coincide with renewed threats to Somchai’s wife, Angkhana Neelaphaijit, and her family. The CCTV outside the front of the Neelaphaijit house has been broken for an extended period. The Department of Special Investigation (DSI), Ministry of Justice has taken responsibility for the family’s security, but has taken no action to fix it.

On 21 January 2011 at the Criminal Court on Ratchadaphisek Road in Bangkok, representatives of all parties involved in the criminal proceedings in the case of the 12 March 2004 forcible disappearance of Somchai Neelaphaijit gathered to hear the verdict of the Appeal Court. However, for technical reasons the verdict was not read for a second time, and instead a new date for reading the verdict was set for February 7. Yet, it appears unlikely that the verdict will also be read on that date, and the Appeal Court’s ruling may not become known until much later in the year. Details of the further postponements in the case and consequences are contained in a new statement by the AHRC: AHRC-STM-020-2011

The AHRC is particularly concerned about the further delays in the case because they coincide with renewed threats to Somchai’s wife, Angkhana Neelaphaijit, and her family. The CCTV outside the front of the Neelaphaijit house has been broken for an extended period. The Department of Special Investigation (DSI), Ministry of Justice has taken responsibility for the family’s security, but has taken no action to fix it.





Further updated: Somchai Neelaphaijit case back in court

18 01 2011

The Asian Human Rights Commission has a press release regarding the case of disappeared lawyer Somchai Neelaphaijit, which is to have a further iteration in an Appeals Court on 21 January. For details on the case, see the AHRC page on Somchai. This reading of a verdict is delayed from September 2010 and is one of the last remaining legal avenues for pushing the case against the authorities claimed to be involved in Somchai’s disappearance.

Updates: There’s more detail in this this Bangkok Post story. It is reported that the Appeals Court on Friday postponed its verdict on the five former policemen accused in the disappearance of human rights lawyer Somchai to 7 February, “to allow a legal formality.”