Thailand: at event marking 15th anniversary of the enforced disappearance of Somchai Neelapaijit, ICJ calls for effective measures to tackle the crime
Today, the ICJ co-hosted an art exhibition and public forum titled 15th Year of Somchai’s Disappearance and the Voices of the Disappeared at the Embassy of the Netherlands in Bangkok.
The event was held to commemorate 15 years since the enforced disappearance of Somchai Neelapaijit, a prominent human rights lawyer, whose case has never been adequately by the Thai authorities.
Somchai was abducted after being stopped on a road in Bangkok on 12 March 2004 and taken from his car by a group of police officers. He has not been seen since. Fifteen years after his disappearance, Somchai’s fate and whereabouts remain unknown and no one has been held accountable for the crime against him.
More than 100 participants attended the event, including family victims of alleged disappearance cases, students, lawyers, members of civil society, diplomats, and members of the Thai authorities and media.
Opening remarks were delivered by Angkhana Neelapaijit, wife of Somchai Neelapaijit, and Kenza Tarqaât, First Secretary of the Embassy of the Netherlands in Bangkok.
The opening session included remarks by the victims who spoke about their challenges and about the progress and development regarding investigations into the alleged disappearance cases of their relatives. The session included the following speakers:
- Phinnapha Phrueksaphan, wife of Porlajee ‘Billy’ Rakchongcharoen
- Pranee Danwattananusorn, wife of Surachai Danwattananusorn
- Adisorn Pho-Arn, son of Thanong Pho-Arn
- Shui-Meng Ng, wife of Sombath Somphone
Sanhawan Srisod, the ICJ’s National Legal Adviser, spoke during the second session on recent amendments to the Draft Prevention and Suppression of Torture and Enforced Disappearance Act.
She highlighted concerns that the recent amendments would, if adopted, fail to bring the law into full compliance with Thailand’s international human rights obligations.
Sanhawan further expressed concern that the fate of the Draft Act was uncertain as Thailand’s National Legislative Assembly (NLA) that is considering the bill, while it may also continue their work in case of the necessity, will stop considering laws on 15 March, prior to the scheduled elections of 24 March 2019.
She stressed that it is crucial the Thai Government continues to consider and amend the bill, and pass it without delay in line with Thailand’s international human rights obligations.
The panel was moderated by Chanatip Tatiyakaroonwong from Cross-Cultural Foundation and also included the following panelists:
- Nongporn Roongpetchwong, Human Rights Expert, Rights and Liberties Protection Department, Ministry of Justice
- Badar Farrukh, Thailand Team Leader, United Nations’ Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) Regional Office for South East Asia
Closing remarks was delivered by Pratubjit Neelapaijit, daughter of Somchai Neelapaijit.
The forum was co-organized with the Neelapaijit family, Amnesty International – Thailand, Cross Cultural Foundation (CrCF), the Embassy of the Netherlands in Bangkok, Human Rights Lawyers’ Association and the United Nations’ Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) Regional Office for South East Asia.
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