The ICJ and other rights groups today demanded the Royal Thai Government carry out a thorough and impartial investigation into the “disappearance” of Pholachi “Billy” Rakchongcharoen.
The human rights activist was last seen in the custody of Kaeng Krachan National Park authorities on 17 April 2014.
The call by ICJ, the Cross Cultural Foundation (CrCF) and the Human Rights Lawyers Association (HRLA) follows a joint mission to Petchaburi Province, southwest of Bangkok, to confirm the facts surrounding the human rights defender’s “disappearance”.
On 23 April 2014, members of ICJ, CrCF and HRLA travelled to Kaeng Krachan town, where they visited the checkpoint where Billy was last seen, observed police activity in the area and interviewed key witnesses, including Billy’s wife and Chief of the Kaeng Krachan National Park Office, Chaiwat Limlikitaksorn.
On 24 April 2014, Billy’s wife, Phinnapha Phrueksaphan, filed a successful habeas corpus application at Petchaburi Provincial Court.
Following a hearing, the Court issued a summons to Chaiwat Limlikitaksorn and another official to appear at Petchaburi Provincial Court on 30 April 2014 to answer questions about Billy’s whereabouts.
“Our visit to the province only confirmed our fears that Billy may have been forcibly disappeared,” said Sam Zarifi, ICJ’s Regional Director for Asia and the Pacific. “If that is the case, then an extremely serious crime under international law has been committed and the Government must show its commitment to identifying the perpetrators and bringing them to justice.”
The ICJ, CrCF and HRLA recommended that the Royal Thai Government:
- carry out a thorough search of the area where Billy was last seen;
- seize all relevant evidence including any CCTV footage in the area; and
- obtain the telephone records of Billy, his friends and associates, and of any relevant officials in order to identify all the calls they made around the dates in question and their movements;
They also called on the Thai judiciary to ensure, ahead of the 30 April questioning of officials, that all witnesses and Billy’s relatives are protected and that all evidence, including CCTV and mobile phone records, are immediately gathered and safe.
For more on the fact-finding mission click on the following PDF file
For the Thai language version of this release please click on the following PDF file
Sam Zarifi, ICJ Asia-Pacific Regional Director, (Bangkok), t:+66 807819002, e-mail: sam.zarifi(a)icj.org
Craig Knowles, ICJ Media & Communications, (Bangkok), t:+66 819077653, e-mail: craig.knowles(a)icj.org