On 12 March 2018, the ICJ co-hosted the forum “14 Years after Somchai’s Disappearance, What Have We Learned?” to commemorate the 14th anniversary of the enforced disappearance of prominent lawyer and human rights defender Somchai Neelapaijit.
The forum was held at the Faculty of Law in Thammasat University’s Tha Pra Chan campus.
More than 80 participants attended the event, including alleged torture victims, family victims of torture and enforced disappearance, students, lecturers, lawyers, civil society organizations, diplomats, members of the Thai authorities and media.
The objectives of the forum were to (i) mark the 14th anniversary of the enforced disappearance of Somchai Neelapaijit and the lack of progress in the investigation (ii) raise awareness and discuss the latest amendments to the Draft Prevention and Suppression of Torture and Enforced Disappearances Act (‘Draft Act’) and its deficiencies; and (iii) discuss the newly constituted Committee managing complaints of torture and enforced disappearance, which was established by the Prime Minister on 23 May 2017.
Opening remarks were delivered by Angkhana Neelapaijit, wife of Somchai Neelapaijit, and Laurent Meillan, OHCHR’s Deputy Regional Representative.
Sanhawan Srisod, the ICJ’s National Legal Advisor, spoke during the first panel discussion on recent amendments to the Draft Act, which was moderated by Poonsuk Poonsukcharoen from Thai Lawyers for Human Rights (TLHR) and also included the following panelists:
- Nongporn Rungpetchwong, Human Rights Expert, Rights and Liberties Protection Department, Ministry of Justice
- Assistant Professor Dr. Ronnakorn Bunmee, Faculty of Law, Thammasat University
- Somchai Homlaor, Lawyer and Senior Advisor to Cross Cultural Foundation (CrCF)
The second panel discussion on the roles and duties of the Committee Managing Complaints for Torture and Enforced Disappearance Cases was moderated by. Yingcheep Atchanont from Internet Law Reform Dialogue (iLaw) and included the following speakers:
- Manunpan Rattanacharoen, Office of Foreign Affairs and International Crimes, Department of Special Investigation (DSI), Ministry of Justice
- Professor Narong Jaihan, Chair, Sub-committee on Prevention of Torture and Enforced Disappearance Cases
- Angkhana Neelapaijit, Family of “disappeared” person
- Isma-ae Tae, Alleged victim of torture and ill-treatment
During the event, the ICJ also highlighted its open letter to Thailand’s Minister of Justice, dated 12 March 2018, on the recent amendments to the Draft Act, which sets out concerns that the recent amendments would, if adopted, fail to bring the law into compliance with Thailand’s international human rights obligations.
The forum was co-organized with the Neelapaijit family, Thammasart University’s Faculty of Law, Amnesty International Thailand, Cross Cultural Foundation (CrCF), together with the United Nations’ Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) Regional Office for South East Asia.
ICJ and Amnesty International, Open letter to Thailand’s Minister of Justice on the amendments to the Draft Prevention and Suppression of Torture and Enforced Disappearances Act, 12 March 2018
ICJ and Thai Lawyers for Human Rights, Joint submission to the UN Committee against Torture, 29 January 2018
ICJ and Amnesty International, Recommendations to Thailand’s Ministry of Justice on the Draft Prevention and Suppression of Torture and Enforced Disappearances Act, 23 November 2017
To mark the 10-year anniversary of Somchai Neelapaijit’s ‘disappearance’, the ICJ released a report documenting the tortuous legal history of the case, Ten Years Without Truth: Somchai Neelapaijit and Enforced Disappearances in Thailand, 7 March 2014
Kingsley Abbott, ICJ Senior International Legal Adviser for Southeast Asia, e: kingsley.abbott(a)icj.org
Thailand-Amendments-to-Prevention-and-Suppression-of-Torture-2018-ENG (Full text in ENG, PDF)
Thailand-Amendments-to-Prevention-Suppression-of-Torture-2018-THA (Full text in THA, PDF)NewsWeb stories