UPDATE (Thailand): Protection withdrawn from monk who continues to receive death threats 


Urgent Appeal Case: UP-028-2006
ISSUES: Administration of justice,

Dear friends,

The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) writes to inform you that protection offered to Thai Buddhist monk Phra Kitisak Kitisophon by the Crime Suppression Division (CSD) has been withdrawn even though the monk continues to receive death threats in relation to the earlier killing of monk Phra Supoj Suwagano (UA-112-2005), which has not yet been solved.

Phra Kitisak Kitisophon is a member of the Sekhiyadhamma Group of development monks which is working for the conservation of more than 280 acres of forest land in Chiang Mai province of northern Thailand. This land has been desired by a group of local influential businessmen who had previously intimidated monks living there with threats of violence and murder. This culminated in the murder of Phra Supoj, a member of Sekhiyadhamma Group, on 17 June 2005. According to the Northern Development Monks Network, the brutal killing maybe directly linked to the local businessmen and the land dispute between them and the religious centre where Phra Supoj was stabbed.

Since the murder, Phra Kitisak, a good friend of Phra Supoj who worked closely with him on environmental issues, has also feared for his life. He has received numerous threats. As a result, he requested protection from the Minister of Justice, who appointed the Witness Protection Office (WPO) to take care of the case. However, as the WPO has no facility or personnel to offer protection by itself, it requested the police to do so. Phra Kitisak then asked that the CSD protect him rather than local officers of Police Region 5 (his area) whom he suspects are in league with the local businessman allegedly connected with the murder of Phra Supoj. The CSD provided four officers to protect Phra Kitisak from June 25 to October 18. It then stopped the protection on the grounds that it had no more budget allocated for this work and believed that Phra Kitisak was no longer in danger. Phra Kitisak again requested protection on December 1, without success. He continues to receive anonymous threatening phone calls.

The AHRC is very concerned because there are still threats against Phra Kitisak’s life. It is aware that although the WPO and Department of Special Investigation (DSI) under the Ministry of Justice have similar concerns, the CSD has declined to take further action on the case. As the final decision on whether or not to provide protection rests with the police, neither agency has been able to do anything further: thus pointing to a serious weakness in the existing system of witness protection in Thailand. Meanwhile, the DSI investigation into the killing of Phra Supoj appears to have come to a standstill, with no evidence that the alleged masterminds are likely to be brought to justice: the characteristic outcome of DSI inquiries in human rights cases (see further AS-084-2005).



Please write to the Minister of Justice expressing your concern at the lack of protection given to Phra Kitisak and the failure of the DSI to satisfactorily complete its investigation into the murder of Phra Supoj. Please ask for the Minister to see that protection is reinstated to the monks of the Sekhiyadhamma Group for as long as necessary, and that the DSI finishes its investigation, leading to arrests and prosecutions of the alleged perpetrators of Phra Supoj’s murder without further undue delay.

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Dear Pol. Gen. Chidchai,

THAILAND: Failure to provide ongoing protection to 
Phra Kitisak Kitisophon and complete investigation of murder of Phra Supoj Suwagano

I am writing to voice my deep concern regarding the failure of the Government of Thailand to provide adequate protection to Phra Kitisak Kitisophon and fellow monks of the Sekhiyadhamma Group following the 17 June 2005 murder of their close colleague Phra Supoj Suwagano. 

According to the information I have received, Phra Kitisak received protection from the Crime Suppression Division (CSD) from June 25 to October 18 of the same year. However, the CSD then suspended its protection, reportedly on the grounds that it had no more budget allocated for this work and believed that Phra Kitisak was no longer in danger. Although I understand that Phra Kitisak again requested protection from you on December 1, this has not been forthcoming, despite the Department of Special Investigation (DSI) and Witness Protection Office (WPO) under your Ministry also having concerns for his safety. I am informed that Phra Kitisak continues to receive anonymous threats against his life. 

I fear that without protection, Phra Kitisak is in serious danger. Were he or any more of his close colleagues to suffer the same fate as Phra Supoj it would be a sad indictment on the Government of Thailand and its incipient Witness Protection Program. I therefore urge you to take immediate action to ensure that protection is reinstated to the monks of the Sekhiyadhamma Group for as long as necessary. 

I take this opportunity to express my concerns over the failure of the DSI to satisfactorily conclude its investigation into the killing of Phra Supoj. Although it was assigned to the case on 19 July 2005, there is no evidence that since this time it has made progress in identifying the alleged masterminds of the killing. I therefore also urge you to ensure that the investigation is finished properly without further undue delay.

Finally, I urge you to review the existing arrangements for the provision of witness protection in Thailand. As is evident from this case, it is dissatisfactory that the police have the final say over who should or should not receive protection. In particular, the WPO should be given the power to enforce orders to other agencies to provide protection to specific persons for specific periods of time under specific conditions. In the absence of this and other powers, its role will remain extremely limited. In this respect I would remind you of the 28 July 2005 concluding observations of the UN Human Rights Committee regarding Thailand's compliance with the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights that the Committee was 

"Concerned at the number of incidents against human rights defenders and community leaders, including intimidation and verbal and physical attacks, enforced disappearances and extra-judicial killings (arts. 19, 21 and 22). The State party [Thailand] must take measures to immediately halt and protect against the harassment and attacks against human rights defenders and community leaders. The State party must systematically investigate all reported instances of intimidation, harassment and attacks and guarantee effective remedies to victims and their families." (CCPR/CO/84/THA, para. 19). 

I trust that you will give this important recommendation due respect and consideration with regards to the cases of Phra Kitisak, Phra Supoj and all other cases to which it applies. 

Yours sincerely,



Pol. Gen. Chidchai Wanasatidya
Minister of Justice
Office of the Ministry of Justice
Ministry of Justice Building
22nd Floor Software Park Building,
Chaeng Wattana Road
Pakkred, Nonthaburi
Bangkok 11120
Tel: +662 502 6776/ 8223
Fax: +662 502 6699/ 6734 / 6884
Email: ommoj@moj.go.thchidchai@moj.go.th


1. Pol. Lt. Col. Dr Thaksin Shinawatra
Prime Minister
Government House
Pitsanulok Road, Dusit District
Bangkok 10300
Tel: +662 280 1404/ 3000
Fax: +662 282 8631/ 280 1589/ 629 8213
E-mail: thaksin@thaigov.go.thgovspkman@mozart.inet.co.th 

2. Pol. Gen. Sombat Amonwiwat
Department of Special Investigation
Ministry of Justice Building, Software Park building 
Chaeng Wattana Road
Pakkred, Nonthaburi
Bangkok 11120
Fax: +66 2 913 7777
Email: dir.gen@sid.go.th

3. Pol. Gen. Kowit Wattana
Royal Thai Police
1st Bldg, 7th Floor
Rama I , Patumwan,
Bangkok 10330
Tel. +662 205-1313/ 205-220/ 205-1840-9
Fax: +662 251-5956/ 205 3738/ 255 1975-8

4. Professor Saneh Chamarik
National Human Rights Commission of Thailand
422 Phya Thai Road
Pathumwan District
Bangkok 10300
Fax: +66 2 219 2940
Email: commission@nhrc.or.thsaneh@nhrc.or.th

5. Mr. Philip Alston
Special Rapporteur on Extra-judicial, Summary, or Arbitrary Executions
Atten: Lydie Ventre
Room 3-016
1211 Geneva 10
Tel: +41 22 917 9155
Email: urgent-action@ohchr.orglventre@ohchr.org

Thank you.

Urgent Appeals Programme (ua@ahrchk.org)
Asian Human Rights Commission (ahrchk@ahrchk.org)
Document Type : Urgent Appeal Update
Document ID : UP-028-2006
Countries : Thailand,
Issues : Administration of justice,