Thailand’s Senate must pass a draft law that would criminalize enforced disappearances and do more to put an end to such violations, international experts and Thai human rights defenders urged at a workshop co-hosted on 30 June in Bangkok by the International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) and Thailand’s Ministry of Justice.
The online Workshop, entitled ‘Sharing Good Practices in the Fight Against Enforced Disappearance in ASEAN’, was attended by around 200 participants, primarily investigators and other justice sector actors. It was also simultaneously live-streamed on the Facebook page of the Ministry of Justice’s Rights and Liberties Protection Department.
The seminar began with opening remarks delivered by Professor Wisit Wisitsora-at, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Justice of Thailand; and Kingsley Abbott, ICJ’s Director of Global Accountability & International Justice.
In his opening speech, Abbott highlighted the timeliness of the discussion about enforced disappearance because Thailand is in the process of giving effect to its treaty obligations in by passing the legislation criminalizing torture and enforced disappearance.
In February this year, Thai lawmakers in the House of Representatives passed the Draft Prevention and Suppression of Torture and Enforced Disappearance Act. It is with the Senate for approval. If it passes, the Bill will criminalize torture, ill-treatment, and enforced disappearance and provide for a range of consequences regarding prevention and redress. Abbott further called the Senate to expedite the enactment of this important legislation without further delay and ensure its compliance with international law and Thailand’s international legal obligations.
It was followed by the presentation of Associate Professor Dr. Pokpong Srisanit, Dean of the Faculty of Law, Thammasat University. He provided an overview of the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance (ICPPED) and its implications for Thailand. He focused on the responsibility of commanding or superior officials for enforced disappearances and the fact that enforced disappearance remains a continuous crime as long as the fate and whereabouts of the victim remain unknown.
Nareeluc Pairchaiyapoom, Director of International Human Rights Division, Ministry of Justice’s Rights and Liberties Protection Department, elaborated on the progress made in enacting the Draft Prevention and Suppression of Torture and Enforced Disappearance Act and the work done by the Committee Managing Complaints for Torture and Enforced Disappearance Cases.
The Committee was established in 2017 to investigate allegations of torture and enforced disappearance, but its effectiveness has continued to be questioned by civil society organizations.
Angkhana Neelapaijit, a member of the UN Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances (UNWGEID), explained the global efforts in tackling enforced disappearance, including through the work of UNEGIED in many countries around the world.
Angkhana’s presentation was followed by the presentations made by experts from other countries, who shared their national laws, case-law, good practices, and essential elements of enforced disappearance in their respective jurisdictions.
These include Yuyun Wahyuningrum, Representative of Indonesia to the AICHR; Edmund Bon Tai Soon, Former Representative of Malaysia to the AICHR; and Caleen Chanyungco Obias, National Legal Consultant – Philippines, ICJ.
Thailand acceded to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) in 1996 and the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment in 2007. In 2012, Thailand signed the ICPPED but had not yet ratified it.
The recording of the workshop is available here.
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