THAILAND: AFAD & JPF joint statement on the International Day of the Disappeared
Bangkok, Thailand and Manila, Philippines: JPF and AFAD call on the government to ensure remedies for victims of Enforced Disappearances and ratify the UN Convention for the Protection of all Persons from Enforced Disappearance
Bangkok, 30 August, 2012: On the occasion of International Day of the Disappeared, the Justice for Peace Foundation (JPF) and the Asian Federation Against Involuntary Disappearances (AFAD) commend the Thai government for signing the International Convention for the Protection of all Persons from Enforced Disappearance in January this year. Both the JPF and the AFAD further express appreciation to the Thai government for committing to provide reparation to victims of enforced disappearances by the end of this year to victims from the southern boarding provinces from 2004. This commitment is seen as an integral part in the whole process of the government’s commitment to respond to the victims’ families’ need for truth and justice.
Enforced disappearance is not only a problem in Southern Thailand. In the year 2011, JPF has documented40 incidents of enforced disappearances involving 59 people. 12 people were from northern Thailand, five from the west, seven from Isaan (north east) and 33 from the Deep south. JPF found out that men from minority ethnic groups, such as Malayu, Hill Tribe communities or migrant workers are disproportionately more vulnerable to enforced disappearances. In the cases documented by JPF, 94% of the victims were male, 86% of whom -are from ethnic minorities. JPF believes that two government policies directly contributed to increasing enforced disappearances in Thailand such as the highly militarized counter-insurgency approach adopted in southern Thailand by various governments and the War on Narcotic Drugs beginning in 2003. In addition to these two policies, JPF concludes from its investigation that particular categories of people are vulnerable to enforced disappearances throughout Thailand. These are: (i) people with close relationships with officials and /or come into conflict with officials; (ii) activists engaged in human rights, political or corruption activism; (iii) witnesses of crimes or human rights violations; and (iv) migrants.
In all of the cases, the right to truth and the right to justice for enforced disappearances remain largely denied by the state in Thailand. The failure to define enforced disappearance as a crime in Thailand blocks prosecutions. Compounding this are weak investigatory and prosecutorial bodies that lack independence. The right to truth is systematically denied as government agencies seek to hide, rather than reveal the truth about enforced disappearances. Provision of reparations to relatives of the disappearances has been extremely limited in Thailand.
“Decades of impunity have created a context in which administrative and security officials know that their illegal actions are condoned by the state and that the likelihood of legal action against them is extremely low”, said Angkhana Neelapaijit, President of JPF. “Families, including myself, have even been denied the right to know the truth and justice about our loved ones”.
“The government of Thailand is to be commended for its act of signing the Convention, which is indeed, a good example of the Thai government to other ASEAN countries. Its ratification of the treaty and its recognition of the competence of the UN Committee Against Enforced Disappearances will be a breakthrough in Southeast Asia, making Thailand to be the first Southeast Asian country to have acceded to the treaty, thus making itself a model for other countries in the region to imitate.“ said Mary Aileen D. Bacalso, AFAD Secretary-General.
JPF and AFAD today, made the following recommendations:
The Government to ratify the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearances and to recognize the competence of the UN Committee -Against Enforced Disappearances.
The Government to adopt a piece of legislation that criminalizes the act of enforced -disappearance, creates appropriate investigation mechanisms and ensures the full rights of the victims and their relatives.
The Government to institute improvement of investigation and prosecution procedures, including immediate filing of first information reports, immediate investigation, rapid referral to Department of Special Investigation (DSI), involvement of independent forensic experts, provision of witness protection, and respect for the rights of the relatives.
Where necessary commissions of inquiry be established into particular categories of enforced disappearances and other human rights violations such as (i) ongoing disappearances related to suspicion of involvement with drugs; (ii) human rights violations in northern Thailand in 2003; and(iii) killings and disappearances of activists.
A national level reparations mechanism should be established. Until this is established in all cases of enforced disappearance relatives should receive interim compensation.
The Justice for Peace Foundation (JPF) was established in June 2006 to protect human rights, promote access to justice and to end impunity in Thailand.
AFAD was established on 4 June 1998 to forge solidarity among organizations working on the issue of enforced disappearances in Asia and to effect a strong impact in the search for truth, justice, redress and the reconstruction of the historical memory of the disappeared.
Signed and authenticated by:
ANGKHANA NEELAPHAIJIT, President, Justice for Peace Foundation
MUGIYANTO, Chairperson, AFAD
For further information, please contact JPF at: email@example.com or Angkhana Neelaphaijit, the president of JPF at firstname.lastname@example.org,
tel : (66)84- 728- 0350