Thailand: don’t drop investigation into Somchai’s disappearance

The ICJ called on the Thai government to ensure that it will continue investigating the enforced disappearance of lawyer Somchai Neelapaijit, who has not been seen since 12 March 2004.

In Geneva yesterday, the ICJ informed the United Nations Working Group on Enforced and Involuntary Disappearances (WGEID) that it was alarmed by reports that Thailand’s Department of Special Investigations (DSI) was considering closing the investigation into Somchai’s enforced disappearance.

The ICJ also shared with the WGEID an open letter to the DSI and the Royal Thai Government raising its concerns, and making a number of recommendations for Thailand to comply with its international obligations, including those under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), the International Convention Against Torture, and the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons Against Enforced Disappearances, which Thailand has signed but not yet ratified. (Letter attached)

“It’s clear that the fate of Somchai Neelapaijit remains of concern inside Thailand and to the international community,” said Matt Pollard, the ICJ’s UN Representative in Geneva. “The DSI must continue to investigate this case because after 10 years, the family is still waiting for the full truth about what happened, and no one has been brought to justice for his enforced disappearance.”

In its letter to the DSI and the Royal Thai Government, the ICJ said: “As a party to both the ICCPR and the Convention against Torture, and signatory to the Convention against Enforced Disappearance, the authorities in Thailand are obligated to ensure that a thorough, independent and impartial investigation is conducted into all cases of alleged enforced disappearance, that those responsible are brought to justice and punished in a manner that is consistent with the gravity of the crime, and that the victims of the crime, including surviving family members, have access to effective redress, and receive adequate reparation.”

“The UN Working Group on Enforced Disappearances has demonstrated a deep commitment to the case of Somchai Neelapaijit since first being made aware of it in 2005,” said Pollard. “The ICJ appreciates the Working Group’s continuing efforts to ensure that the Thai Government properly investigates this case, prosecutes those responsible, and provides for the protection of anyone who remains at risk of intimidation or reprisals for seeking justice.”

For the full text of the ICJ’s open letter, download



Matt Pollard, ICJ Senior Legal Adviser, UN Representative, Centre for the Independence of Judges and Lawyers (Geneva), t:+41 792465475 email: matt.pollard(a)

Craig Knowles, ICJ Media & Communications, (Bangkok), t:+66 819077653, e-mail: craig.knowles(a)



AdvocacyNewsOpen lettersPress releases