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Thailand: ICJ holds workshops on the investigation of potentially unlawful deaths
From 5 to 8 December 2017, the ICJ co-hosted two workshops – the first one for lawyers with the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) and the second one for authorities in Thailand – on the investigation of potentially unlawful deaths and enforced disappearance.
The first workshop’s attendees included 17 lawyers and academics from Thailand and eight lawyers from India.
Participants in the second workshop included 26 participants from Thailand’s Ministry of Justice, Department of Special Investigation (DSI), Royal Thai Police, Office of the Attorney-General, Ministry of Defence, Ministry of Interior, Southern Border Province Administration Centre and the National Human Rights Commission of Thailand.
The first event commenced with opening remarks by OHCHR Human Rights Officer and Thailand team coordinator, Imesh Pokharel, and Frederick Rawski, the ICJ’s Regional Director for Asia and the Pacific.
Aem-on Siang-Yai, Director of the Office of Rights and Freedoms Protection from the Rights and Liberties Protection Department of Thailand’s Ministry of Justice made additional opening remarks in the second event.
In both workshops, Kingsley Abbott, Senior International Legal Adviser for Southeast Asia at the ICJ provided an introduction to the revised Minnesota Protocol on the Investigation of Potentially Unlawful Death (2016), which was launched in Thailand on 25 May 2017; ICJ Practitioners Guide No 9 – Enforced Disappearance and Extrajudicial Execution: Investigation and Sanction (2015, in English, Spanish and Thai); and the international legal framework governing investigations into unlawful deaths, noting that Thailand has legal obligations including under its Constitution and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), to which it is a State Party, to respect, protect and fulfil the right to life.
These obligations entail a duty to ensure investigations into potentially unlawful deaths are independent, impartial, effective, thorough and transparent.
Sean Buckley of OSACO Group, former New Zealand Police Detective and now an independent, international, investigative specialist with more than 20 years of investigations experience including more than seven years with the United Nations (including at the Special Tribunal for Lebanon and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees), provided in both events a technical training on a range of topics relevant to investigations using the revised Minnesota Protocol as a guide.
Kingsley Abbott was a member of the Forensics and Legal Working Groups which assisted with the revision of the Minnesota Protocol, while Sean Buckley was a member of the Advisory Panel.
The workshops focused on investigation techniques of potentially unlawful deaths, including controlling the crime scene, preserving the security of evidence and ensuring the safety of all parties involved in investigations, including witnesses, investigators and family members of victims.
The workshops also covered witness identification and interview techniques, collection of DNA evidence, drafting of investigation reports and crime file management.
Sean Buckley shared with participants different means of international assistance available for investigations of potentially unlawful deaths.
The Workshop also covered the collection and potential use of telecommunications evidence.
Sean Buckley and Imesh Pokharel presented on the interview and protection of witnesses.
Thailand and India are both state parties to the ICCPR.
Kingsley Abbott, ICJ Senior International Legal Adviser for Southeast Asia, kingsley.abbott(a)icj.org