THAILAND: Statement on the fifth anniversary of enforced disappearance of lawyer Somchai Neelapaijit 

On the fifth year of the enforced disappearance of Mr. Somchai Neelapaijit, I and my family truly appreciate the attention the Abhisit Vejjejiva government gives to the case and that they promise to give priority to the case to search for truths, to uphold fairness and to bring to justice those responsible for the disappearance.

On 12 January 2006, the Court ruled that one police officer with 3-5 officers were found to have pushed Mr. Somchai Neelapaijit into a car and drove away. The case is pending in the Court of Appeal and the disappearance case (murder case) is under investigation of Department of Special Investigation (DSI). The National Counter Corruption Commission (NCCC) has been informed of the case and ordered inquiry into the fact that prior to his enforced disappearance, Mr. Somchai had submitted letters of petition to various agencies alleging that high ranking police officers were behind the torture of persons held in custody. It is believed that such an action has led to his being forced to disappear. Meanwhile, the UN Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances (UNWGED) has accepted the enforced disappearance case of Mr. Somchai Neelapaijit as a case to pursue since 1 June 2005.

In the past five years, the case of Mr. Somchai Neelapaijit has been interfered by politicians and high ranking officials. Attempts were made to spread false information that Mr. Somchai died of sudden heart attack, when being pushed into the car, though it was known that he had not suffer from any heart problem. Such allegation was made to avoid the chance to press murder charge against the perpetrators leaving just the chance to sue them on concealing and destroying the body. All these factors have made it difficult for justice to be done. Since the case involves high ranking officers from various agencies, the inquiry into the case has to hinge on sincerity of the government and its apparatuses, particularly DSI which has been widely believed to have had close connection with those alleged offenders and concerned parties since many high ranking officers in DSI used to serve in the Royal Thai Police.
On the fifth year of the enforced disappearance of Mr. Somchai Neelapaijit after which according to Section 61 and 62 of the Civil and Commercial Code, the disappeared person can be declared dead, I would like to put forward my following demands to the government and DSI.

1. The government and DSI must be sincere in pursuing the enforced disappearance case of Mr. Somchai Neelapaijit making the process transparent, fair, and free from unjust interference in order to bring those responsible to justice even though they are high ranking police officers.
2. The DSI should issue a summons to call for Former Prime Minister, Lt. Col. Thaksin Shinawatra, to testify as a witness. It was found that someone close to Lt. Col. Thaksin, for unknown reasons, asked for access to search for inhabitant data of Mr. Somchai with his photo. In addition, Lt. Col. Thaksin himself used to inform public that Mr. Somchai Neelapaijit was dead.
3. The Thai justice system, particularly agencies responsible for law reform, should be able to explain to aggrieved families and general public that in case where no evidence could be obtained to ascertain the death of Mr. Somchai, what would be the alternative recourse to bring perpetrators to justice and to end the issues of enforced disappearances by means of destroying the body.
4. The Thai government should sign the 2006 International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance to ensure and provide guarantee that Thai citizens shall no longer be subject to enforced disappearance at the hands of public officers.
5. The government should accelerate the reform process of justice system to uphold its independence, transparency, impartiality and making it subject to monitoring by people. This will make the Thai justice process reliable and deliver fairness to all Thai citizens equally and without discrimination.

Last but not least, I would like to throw my support to the government and all government officials who have been upholding the rule of law to guarantee fairness to the people and so that they can be part of the solutions when human rights abuses are continuing unabated in Thai society. I also would like to thank all Thai people and international organizations, particularly the rights organizations inside and outside the country, which collectively endeavor to prove that struggles for human rights and justice are borderless. Amidst the hardships to access justice system and through the encounter with threats and persecution, I have been experiencing friendships and support from fellow human beings. Such support helps to keep me and other aggrieved persons in the world to continue our struggle for justice patiently, determinedly and with hope.

Ms. Angkhana Neelapaijit
12 March 2009

Remarks: Ms Angkhana Neelapaichit together with Mr Nitithorn Lamluea from Lawyer’s Council of Thailand will request the Civil Court on Tuesday 17 March, 2009 to announce that Mr Somchai Neelapaichit is a disappeared person according to the Civil Code

To support this case, please click here: SEND APPEAL LETTER


Document Type : Forwarded Statement
Document ID : AHRC-FST-021-2009
Countries : Thailand,
Campaigns : Somchai Neelaphaijit
Issues : Enforced disappearances and abductions, Human rights defenders,