Thailand: ICJ co-hosts workshop on extrajudicial killings in the context of ethnic and religious minorities

On 17 December 2019, the ICJ co-hosted a discussion on extrajudicial killings in Thailand and the lack of progress in investigations of these killings, with an emphasis on the killings of ethnic, racial, or linguistic minorities or indigenous persons, including indigenous persons in Northern Thailand and ethnic Malays in Southern Thailand.

The discussion was held at the Faculty of Law of Chiang Mai University. The event bought together participants from the North and Deep South of Thailand who considered developing joint advocacy strategy to address the troubling practices.

The event commenced with panel discussions on extrajudicial killings in Thailand and obstacles in access to justice faced by minority communities. Panelists included family members of victims, civil society organizations, lawyers and academics. Affected persons shared their experience as victims of attempted extrajudicial killings or relatives of victims of extrajudicial killings. Other panelists shared information on the dire trend of killings in their regions; concerns regarding extra-judicial killings of unarmed suspects; barriers to access to justice, including financial barriers due to poverty, lack of legal information, lack of trust in the authorities, and language barriers for indigenous speakers. Several panelists expressed concerns that family members of the victims could not participate in the investigation process. Others spoke on the objection of authorities to carry out autopsies of suspected extrajudicial killings in the Deep South.

ICJ’s Legal Adviser Sanhawan Srisod highlighted that investigators and law enforcement officials need to take into account international law and standards. These include the revised Minnesota Protocol on the Investigation of Potentially Unlawful Death (2016), which was launched in Thailand on 25 May 2017; and the 1990 UN Basic Principles on the Use of Force and Firearms by Law Enforcement Officials. Different standards of operation between the police and the military to make arrests, which make military officers prone to violate the UN Basic Principles on the Use of Force and Firearms by Law Enforcement Officials. She also spoke on the different types of firearms that security personnel use and how they affect the proportionality of force; and the lack of guidelines on the use of firearms in arrest operations that is in compliance with international laws and standards.

A theater performance by Lanyim Theatre took place after the discussion.

The first panel was moderated by Pranom Somwong, Thailand’s Representative for Protection International. The panel included affected persons of an alleged extra-judicial killing from Thailand’s Deep South; Maitree Chamroensuksakul, from Rak Lahu Group and relative of a victim of an alleged extra-judicial killing in Northern Thailand; Prof. Somchai Preechasinlapakun, Head of Law Research and Development Center, Chiang Mai University; and Yureesa Samah, Officer of Duay Jai Foundation.

The second panel was moderated by Nadthasiri Bergman, Director of Human Rights Lawyers’ Association. The panel included Preeda Nakpiew, Lawyer of Cross-Cultural Foundation; Anukul Awaeputeh, Lawyer and Head of the Pattani branch, Muslim Attorney Center Foundation; Sumitchai Hattasarn, Lawyer and Director of Centre for the Protection and Revival of Local Community Rights; and Sanhawan Srisod, Legal Adviser of the ICJ.

The event was conducted in collaboration with Amnesty International Thailand; Cross Cultural Foundation; Human Rights Lawyers’ Association; Inter Mountain Peoples’ Education and Culture in Thailand Association (IMPECT); Legal Research and Development Center, Chiang Mai University; Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) Regional Office for South-East Asia; and Protection International.

Further reading

Thailand: ICJ co-hosts discussion on addressing extrajudicial killings

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

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