Thailand: pass legislation criminalizing enforced disappearance, torture without further delay
The ICJ and other human rights groups sent an open letter to the Royal Thai Government on the 2017 International Day of the Victims of Enforced Disappearances.
The ICJ, Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH), Thai Lawyers for Human Rights and the Cross Cultural Foundation express concern at the continuing delay in the amendment and enactment of the Draft Prevention and Suppression of Torture and Enforced Disappearance Act (‘Draft Act’) and the lack of progress in investigating cases of apparent enforced disappearance in Thailand.
The letter urged the Royal Thai government to amend the Draft Act to comply with Thailand’s international human rights obligations and pass it without further delay.
The joint open letter also highlighted the apparent enforced disappearances of Somchai Neelapaijit and Porlajee “Billy” Rakchongcharoen and called for the effective, impartial and independent investigation of these cases and all other cases of enforced disappearance, torture and other ill-treatment in Thailand.
The letter concluded by making seven recommendations to the Royal Thai Government, including to:
1. Ratify the ICPPED and accede to the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture;
2. Prioritize the amendment of the Draft Act to bring it in line with international law and thereafter enact it without further delay;
3. Ensure that the DSI effectively implements its obligation to independently, impartially and effectively investigate all reported cases of enforced disappearance, including the alleged enforced disappearance of Somchai Neelapaijit until such time as his fate or whereabouts is established; any individual who has knowledge of the fate or whereabouts of Somchai Neelapaijit or any other alleged victim of enforced disappearance must divulge it immediately;
4. Ensure that the DSI investigates the case of the apparent enforced disappearance of Porlajee “Billy” Rakchongcharoen independently, impartially and effectively until such time as his fate or whereabouts is established;
5. Provide the family victims in both cases with access to effective remedies and reparations, including regular updates on the status of the investigations;
6. Ensure, in the cases of Somchai Neelapaijit and Porlajee “Billy” Rakchongcharoen, that if investigations result in sufficient admissible evidence, those who are reasonably suspected of responsibility are prosecuted in fair proceedings without resort to the death penalty; and
7. Implement the recommendations of the Human Rights Committee as stated in its Concluding Observations on Thailand in 2017, to “bring its legislation and practices into compliance with article 9” of the ICCPR, by ending the practice of arbitrarily detaining persons incommunicado, and to ensure “guarantees against incommunicado detention enumerated in the Committee’s general comment No. 35 (2014) on liberty and security of person”.
Thailand has ratified the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and the Convention against Torture (CAT). In January 2012, Thailand also signed the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance (ICPPED), reflecting a commitment to prevent and prohibit the crime of enforced disappearance.
On 10 March 2017, Thailand’s National Legislative Assembly approved the ratification of the ICPPED.
However, the Royal Thai Government has not yet set a clear time frame for depositing the treaty with the United Nations Secretary-General as required.
Kingsley Abbott, ICJ Senior International Legal Adviser (Bangkok), e: kingsley.abbott(a)icj.org
Olivier van Bogaert, ICJ Director Media & Communications (Geneva), e: olivier.vanbogaert(a)icj.org
Thailand-ED Day letter-Advocacy-open letters-2017-ENG (full letter in Englsih, PDF)
Thailand-ED Day letter-Advocacy-open letters-2017-THA (full letter in Thai, PDF)
ICJ new report No more ‘missing persons’: the criminalization of enforced disappearance in South AsiaAdvocacyOpen letters