ASIA: Interactive Dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on Extra-judicial Killings and the Special Rapporteur on the Independence of Judges and Lawyers

An Oral Statement to the 8th Session of the UN Human Rights Council by the Asian Legal Resource Centre (ALRC)

ASIA: Interactive Dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on Extra-judicial Killings and the Special Rapporteur on the Independence of Judges and Lawyers

Check Against Delivery

Mr. Alston and Mr. Despouy,

Concerning Sri Lanka, while there are a few investigations into human rights violations, including extra-judicial killings, there have been no related convictions in the last two years. The lack of independence and politicization of the judiciary and other institutions have resulted in a grave prevalence of impunity in the country. The lack of witness and victim protection has further delayed justice being served. How can your two mandates assist and advise the Sri Lankan authorities to effectively address this culture of impunity, the collapse of independent institutions of the rule of law and problems of judicial independence?

Mr. Alston,

Firstly, we welcome your important report on the Philippines and share your concerns about the continuing impunity related to the extra-judicial killings that remain ongoing there. Concerning Thailand, the ALRC notes the Royal Thai Government’s lack of response to your letter dated 28 August 2007 concerning the findings of the Independent Committee set up to investigate extrajudicial killings during the 2003 “War on Drugs” (1). Its preliminary report finds that between February and April 2003 more than 2,800 people were murdered in Thailand, and that further investigations need to be carried out to determine criminal liability. The present government has, however, stated that the Committee should be relieved of its duties as it has no further role to play (2).

Does the Special Rapporteur have any recommendations for the government and the international community concerning the outstanding work of the Independent Committee?

The Special Rapporteur’s report to the 61st session of the Commission on Human Rights (E/CN.4/2005/7/Add.1, Page 273) referred to a communication from the government stating that an independent commission had found that state officials failed to properly perform and discharge their duties in relation to the 78 deaths at Tak Bai in 2004.

Are you aware that the post-mortem inquest into these deaths has been adjourned for over one year, and that no criminal charges have been brought?

Moreover, the ALRC would like to recall that there have been three cases of death in custody reported in the South of Thailand over the last year concerning which the government has promised swift investigations, in particular, into the death of Yapa Kaseng, who was tortured to death in March 2008. No progress has been made in any of these cases and the alleged perpetrators have not been prosecuted.

Finally, the ALRC notes your outstanding request for a visit to Thailand, especially the southern border provinces, initially made on November 8, 2004. Could you confirm what, if any, response you have received from the Thai government during the reporting period concerning this?

(1) A/HRC/8/3/Add.1 page 404
(2) Minister of Justice, Mr Sompong Amornwiwat, as quoted in The Nation newspaper, 21 February 2008