THAILAND: Acting police chief must retract unwarranted verbal attack on human rights defender Angkhana Neelaphaijit

The acting police chief of Thailand on Monday, 12 March 2007 made a verbal attack on .

The Manager online newspaper quoted Pol. Gen. Seripisuth Themiyavet as saying that Angkhana should be taught to “shut up” about the case of her husband, lawyer Somchai Neelaphaijit, who was abducted by police three years ago and whose case remains unsolved. The newspaper also quoted Pol. Gen. Seripisuth as saying that Angkhana should not keep asking for more work to be done on the case and “shouldn’t trust other people so much”, warning that she would make him into “an enemy”.

Earlier in the day, Angkhana lodged a complaint with the central Administrative Court over the failed investigation into her husband’s disappearance. The complaint was lodged against Pol. Gen. Seripisuth in his capacity as acting national police chief. In a Bangkok Post article published in the morning, Angkhana noted that the police accused in connection with the disappearance are still on duty and are able to use their positions to continue to thwart justice.

The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) calls for Pol. Gen. Seripisuth to retract immediately his completely inappropriate comments, and apologise to Angkhana Neelaphaijit. If Pol. Gen. Seripisuth fails to retract his remarks, it will fall upon the interim prime minister, General Surayud Chulanont, to take appropriate steps. Under any circumstances, the AHRC also calls for a review of the earlier reported decision to make Pol. Gen. Seripisuth the permanent police chief, in light of his unacceptable outburst.

The AHRC also notes with concern that after he was promoted in February, Pol. Gen. Seripisuth appointed Pol. Gen. Sombat Amornvivat as one of his deputies. Pol. Gen. Sombat is the former director of the Department of Special Investigation under whose personal authority Somchai’s case languished for at least one year. He is alleged to have actively obstructed the case, and was dismissed from his office after the military coup of September 19 for poor performance, and transferred to an inactive post in the justice ministry. The AHRC is appalled that he has now found his way back into the senior police hierarchy and reiterates its earlier demands that he be sacked and subjected to investigation for possible obstruction of justice.

Finally, the AHRC calls on all concerned persons in Thailand and abroad to raise their concerns for the security of Angkhana Neelaphaijit at the highest levels. Coming from the head of the Royal Thai Police, these remarks are a real threat. They pose a serious danger to her safety. The AHRC therefore calls upon all human rights defenders in Thailand and abroad, including the members of the National Human Rights Commission and the Lawyers Council of Thailand, as well as human rights groups, United Nations agencies and the European Union, which earlier named Angkhana as a “Woman Human Rights Defender”, to act decisively and respond concertedly to this attack on a courageous mother and outstanding citizen of Thailand.

Document Type : Statement
Document ID : AS-046-2007
Countries : Thailand,
Campaigns : Somchai Neelaphaijit
Issues : Enforced disappearances and abductions, Human rights defenders,