NHRC demands justice for nine missing Thai activists

Photo courtesy of Bangkok Post

The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) called on the Ministry of Justice to take decisive action regarding the disappearance of nine Thai political activists who vanished after seeking asylum in neighbouring countries.

Sayamol Kaiyoorawong of the NHRC disclosed that she recently handed over an investigative report on these disappearances to Somboon Muangklam, adviser to Justice Minister Tawee Sodsong and chairman of the committee on the Prevention and Suppression of Torture and Enforced Disappearance. The report details the cases of activists who went missing in Laos, Cambodia, and Vietnam between 2017 and 2021.

The missing activists are Ittipon Sukpaen, Wuthipong Kochathamakun, Surachai Danwattananusorn, Chucheep Chiwasut, Kritsana Thapthai, Siam Theerawut, and Wanchalearm Satsaksit. Tragically, the bodies of Chatcharn Buppawan and Kraidej Luelert were discovered encased in concrete along the Mekong River border with Laos in late 2018.

All these individuals were either implicated under the Computer Crime Act, Section 112 of the Criminal Code, commonly known as the lese majeste law, or accused of actions undermining political stability. The NHRC criticised the Thai government for its lack of progress in investigating these cases, suggesting that state agencies might be implicated due to their negligence.

The NHRC’s investigation revealed that state agencies had failed to collaborate effectively with neighbouring countries to uncover the truth about the activists’ fates. The commission stressed the necessity for these agencies to follow legal procedures, determine the reasons behind the disappearances, and bring any responsible parties to justice.

The NHRC also emphasised the need for the government to compensate the families of the missing activists, as mandated by the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance and the Prevention and Suppression of Torture and Enforced Disappearance Act 2022.

The NHRC noted a gap in the Damages for the Injured Person and Compensation and Expenses for the Accused in Criminal Case Act 2001, which lacks criteria for government compensation in cases of enforced disappearance. Moreover, there was no evidence that state agencies had provided any other forms of compensation to the affected families.

“The findings show that the missing activists shared political views that differed from those of the government.”

The NHRC has also urged the Cabinet to expedite the ratification of the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, reported Bangkok Post.

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Puntid Tantivangphaisal

Originally from Hong Kong, Puntid moved to Bangkok in 2020 to pursue further studies in translation. She holds a Bachelor's degree in Comparative Literature from the University of Hong Kong. Puntid spent 8 years living in Manchester, UK. Before joining The Thaiger, Puntid has been a freelance translator for 2 years. In her free time, she enjoys swimming and listening to music, as well as writing short fiction and poetry.

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