ICJ holds seminar at Chiang Mai University Thailand on the right to life and the duty to investigate

On 5 June 2018, the ICJ co-organized an academic seminar addressing the right to life under international law and the State’s duty to effectively investigate alleged violations.

The event happened on the eve of the post mortem decision to be delivered by Chiang Mai Provincial Court in the case of Chaiyaphum Pasae.

The Lahu youth activist was killed by a military official who was attempting to arrest him as an alleged drug suspect in Chiang Dao district of Thailand’s northern Chiang Mai province in March 2017.

Officials claimed Chaiyaphum had resisted arrest and was subsequently shot in “an act of self-defence”.

On 6 June 2018, Chiang Mai Provincial Court ruled that the bullets shot by the military official had caused the death of Chaiyaphum Pasae.

In its decision, the court made no finding of fault and no finding as to whether Chaiyaphum Pasae had resisted arrest before his death.

The decision by Chiang Mai Provincial Court will now be sent on to the Public Prosecutor and inquiry officers, who will in parallel continue criminal investigations into the case.

The Public Prosecutor is expected thereafter to make a decision regarding any indictment of the military official who shot at Chaiyaphum Pasae.

Participants in the seminar, which was held at Chiang Mai University’s Art Center, included Chaiyaphum Pasae’s family members, interested members of the public, media representatives, students and academics.

Kingsley Abbott, ICJ Senior Legal Adviser, addressed the seminar on the right to life and the international law and standards that apply to investigating potentially unlawful deaths, including the rights of victims and family members, referring to the standards set out in the revised Minnesota Protocol on the Investigation of Potentially Unlawful Death (2016), which was launched in Thailand on 25 May 2017.

The event follows the ICJ’s first regional workshop on the investigation of potentially unlawful deaths and enforced disappearance in Asia, held last week in Bangkok for authorities from Thailand, Cambodia, Myanmar and Nepal.

Other speakers at the Workshop included Ratsada Manuratsada and Sumitchai Hattasarn, lawyers from Human Rights Lawyers Association (HRLA) who represented the family of Chaiyaphum Pasae, and Songkran Pongbunchan, a lecturer from Chiang Mai University’s Faculty of Law.

The Discussion was conducted in collaboration with Legal Research and Development Center Chiang Mai University (LRDC); Center for Protection and Revival of Local Community Rights (CPCR); Center for Ethnic Studies and Development Chiang Mai University (CESD); Human Rights Lawyers Association (HRLA); Protection International (PI); Holding Hands Group; Inter Mountain Peoples’ Education and Culture in Thailand Association (IMPECT); Cross Cultural Foundation (CrCF); Maayimstudio; Save Lahu Group; Lanyim Creative Group; Dinsorsee Creative Group; Northern Activist Community (CAN); and Tonkal Network.

This seminar is part of an ongoing engagement between the ICJ and Chiang Mai University’s Faculty of Law.


Kingsley Abbott, Senior Legal Adviser, ICJ Asia Pacific Regional Office, t: +66 94 470 1345, e: kingsley.abbott(a)icj.org

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