UN Calls For Action On Enforced Disappearances In Thailand

The human rights chief at the United Nations has called on the Thai government to investigate the country’s slew of enforced disappearances.

Enforced disappearance is not considered a crime in the Kingdom so the UN have urged Thailand to bring its legislation on the matter in line with international standards.

“All of the families of those who have disappeared have the right to know the truth regarding the disappearance of their kin, as well as any progress and the results of investigations,” commented Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, UN high commissioner for human rights in a statement.

At least 82 people are considered victims of enforced disappearance in Thailand.

The most high profile case is that of Muslim lawyer Somchai Neelapaijit, who went missing in 2004 as he prepared to defend people arrested under martial law in the south of the country.

Witnesses reported seeing Mr Somchai forced into a car on the night of his disappearance.

Five police officers were accused of involvement in his abduction but because of the lack of criminal law on the matter, they were simply tried for robbery and coercion.

Just one officer was convicted of these crimes although, contentiously, the 2011 appeal overturned the conviction after finding insufficient evidence.

The Appeals Court also ruled that Mr Somchai’s family could not stand as joint plaintiffs – a contravention of international law which states the family members of an enforced disappearance victim should also be legally considered victims.

“The Supreme Court of Thailand missed an opportunity to protect the rights of the victims to truth, justice and redress in cases of involuntary and enforced disappearance,” said Mr Zeid.

Mr Zeid called for the Thai government to immediately ratify the International Convention for the Protection Of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance.

He added that the implication of state officials into cases of enforced disappearance is of serious concern.

 

Featured image is of Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, UN high commissioner for human rights (UN Photo/Pierre Albouy)

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