(New York) – The Thai government should immediately act to end enforced disappearances in Thailand, Human Rights Watch said today in a letter to Prime Minister Gen. Prayut Chan-ocha. The government should make enforced disappearance a criminal offense and take serious steps to bring those responsible for this human rights violation to justice.
On December 29, 2015, the Supreme Court acquitted five police officers charged in the March 2004 disappearance of a prominent human rights lawyer, Somchai Neelapaijit, despite the admission by then-Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra that the police were responsible and substantial evidence implicating specific police officials.
“The dozens of unresolved disappearance cases in Thailand demand an immediate government response to investigate and bring those responsible to justice,” said Brad Adams, Asia director. “Thai authorities should end the excuses and cover ups that have allowed impunity to flourish and have condemned families of the missing to years of agony and uncertainty.”
Prayut should fulfill pledges he made at the United Nations General Assembly to protect human rights and for the government to urgently ratify the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance.
Human Rights Watch also raised concerns about the use of secret military detention by Thai authorities both under section 44 of the 2014 interim constitution against dissenters and suspects in national security cases and under the 1914 Martial Law Act against insurgent suspects in the southern border provinces.
“The Thai government should make a 180 degree turn in its policy by recognizing that secret detention and enforced disappearance fundamentally undermine the rule of law and destroy people’s trust in their government,” Adams said. “The failure to pursue and end enforced disappearance cases runs counter to General Prayut’s many pledges to respect human rights.”