UPDATE (Thailand): Second call for special investigation chief to resign; EU expresses concern in Somchai case
May 12, 2006
UPDATE ON URGENT APPEAL UPDATE ON URGENT APPEAL UPDATE ON URGENT APPEAL
ASIAN HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION - URGENT APPEALS PROGRAMME
Update on Urgent Appeal
12 May 2006
[RE: FA-06-2004: THAILAND: A human rights lawyer Mr. Somchai Neelaphaijit missing
UP-20-2005: THAILAND: Human rights lawyer still missing after nearly one year; Action needed today to have case transferred; UP-24-2005: THAILAND: Thai minister refuses to act on missing human rights lawyer case; UP-37-2005: Thai PM orders action on missing human rights lawyer, while court hears of torture; UP-45-2005: Wife of missing human rights lawyer intimidated; UP-49-2005: THAILAND: Government commits to giving witness protection to missing lawyer's family; UP-89-2005: THAILAND: Repeated failed commitment to assign Department of Special Investigation to Somchai case; UP-107-2005: THAILAND: Special call for observers to attend September 7, 8 & 9 court hearings over missing human rights lawyer Somchai Neelaphaijit
UP-130-2005: THAILAND: Constant changes of prosecuting attorneys in Somchai's case undermine judicial process... UP-004-2006: THAILAND: Verdict in case of missing human rights lawyer Somchai Neelaphaijit due on January 12; UP-015-2006: THAILAND: Minister of Justice must clarify continued contradictions after verdict in Somchai Neelaphaijit case; UP-061-2006: THAILAND: First call for special investigation chief to resign over Somchai case; UP-081-2006 :THAILAND: EU gets questioned over missing Thai human Rights lawyer case]
UP-107-2006: THAILAND: Second call for special investigation chief to resign; EU expresses concern in Somchai case
THAILAND: Gross negligence; impunity; unaccountability
The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) brings to your attention contemptuous evidence against the work of the Department of Special Investigation (DSI) and its Director, Police General Sombat Amornwiwat. Since 19 July 2005 Pol. Gen. Sombat along with 18 special officers of the government was assigned to assist in the investigation and inquiry of missing human rights lawyer, Somchai Neelaphaijit. In January 2006 the prime minister himself stated that murder charges would be laid against the perpetrators by the end of February, a statement which was backed up by Pol. Gen. Sombat. Obviously that date has long since passed and yet no conclusive findings have been established regarding Somchais whereabouts.
In a May 9 letter to the permanent secretary of the Ministry of Justice in Thailand, the wife of disappeared human rights lawyer Somchai Neelaphaijit wrote to request for an investigation into the handling of the case by the DSI. Angkhana Neelapaijit said that she had become growingly suspicious of the role in which Pol. Gen. Sombat plays in the case and in her strongest condemnation called for the ministry to remove him from his post as chief command of investigation. In her letter Angkhana put forward three grounds which have been of special concern: the conflicting roles by illegally helping the accused in gaining prosecution evidence with which to prepare their defence; the DSI director deliberately leading the investigation into dead-ends; and that no proper investigation has yet been initiated into telephone calls between the key accused and other officers at the time of the abduction. (To see further details on each of these three points, please refer to: AS-104-2006).
Pressure persists to grow as the world continues to ask, Where is Somchai? This has become the test case for justice v. impunity in Thailand. It must be realised that the question will never go away until there is a satisfactory answer. In the worlds latest appeal, the case has attracted attention from the European Parliament who has pointed to the fact that investigations are seriously flawed.
Since the government has admitted its obligations to take responsibility in overseeing this case, it should rise to respond to this calling. It should follow that the only credible way is to remove the obstacle of the investigations as highlighted above, namely the removal of Pol. Gen. Sombat. This would be the decisive step to restore the reputation of the government.
The case of Somchai Neelaphaijit is by no means the only one that has shown Pol. Gen. Sombat to be a failure as head of the DSI. Other human rights cases in the hands of the DSI have gone nowhere (please see additional cases in: UP-061-2006).
Two Members of the European Parliament have asked the European Union what action it is taking on the Somchai case, as well as torture and other human rights abuses in Thailand. This is an important development at a time that the Department of Special Investigation has failed to make progress in the case. To see the text of the question to the EU Council please refer to: UP-081-2006.
For all links and further information on the case of Somchai Neelaphaijit, visit the Somchai Neelaphaijit webpage established by the AHRC: www.ahrchk.net/somchai. Please note that a Thai-language report on the investigation and trial process by the Thai Working Group for Human Rights Defenders has now been placed on the site (Word Document format).
Please write to the Minister of Justice asking him again to request Pol. Gen. Sombat Amornvivat to resign his post as Director General of the DSI. It is clear that the director general has been an obstacle from the beginning of the investigation and that his failings are a direct reflection of the lack of commitment of the government to resolve this case which has gained worldwide attention. It would be in the governments interest to remove the general from his post; it would not only restore faith amongst its people but also allow the DSI to at last begin the serious work to which it has been mandated.
Dear Pol. Gen. Chidchai
THAILAND: Second call for special investigation chief to resign; EU expresses concern in Somchai case
I am writing to urge you to take personal responsibility in removing the Special Investigation Chief, Police General Sombat Amornwiwat from his post in the case of disappeared human rights lawyer, Somchai Neelaphaijit. You will no doubt be aware of the increasing call around the world for this resignation. I am sure you are likewise aware that the European Parliament has pointed to the fact that the investigations are seriously flawed.
It has been learned from the latest letter from Angkhana Neelapaijit, wife of the disappeared human rights lawyer, that Pol. Gen. Sombat has been a continued impediment and failing in the governments commitment to restore faith amongst the people of Thailand.
The international human rights reputation of Thailand is in tatters. The government has continually failed to properly address the disappearance of Somchai, which has become a global focus growing with increasing interest. The Department of Special Investigation (DSI) has made a mockery of the wider aspirations for human rights in Thailand carrying out work without substance. They have woven a web of lies and deceit around the victims of extrajudicial killings, torture and forced disappearance. They have poisoned a new constitution that should have been cause for hope among victims and relatives of gross human rights violations. The DSI is an unmitigated human rights failure and it is due largely in part to its director and his subordinates.
It must be realised that the search for justice in Somchais case will not go away until there is a satisfactory conclusion and those responsible are properly prosecuted. I therefore offer my unqualified support for Angkhana in her demand that Pol. Gen. Sombat be taken off her husbands case. Since the government has admitted its obligations to take responsibility in overseeing this case, it should rise to respond to this calling. It should follow that the only credible way is to remove the obstacle of the investigation, namely Pol. Gen. Sombat.
I look forward to your urgent intervention in this matter,
PLEASE SEND YOUR LETTERS TO:
Pol. Gen. Chidchai Wanasatidya
Caretaker Minister of Justice
Office of the Ministry of Justice
Ministry of Justice Building
22nd Floor Software Park Building,
Chaeng Wattana Road
Tel: +662 502 6776/ 8223
Fax: +662 502 6699/ 6734 / 6884
Email: email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org
PLEASE SEND COPIES TO:
1. Pol. Lt. Col. Dr Thaksin Shinawatra
Caretaker Prime Minister
Pitsanulok Road, Dusit District
Tel: +662 280 1404/ 3000
Fax: +662 282 8631/ 280 1589/ 629 8213
E-mail: email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org
2. Dr. Kantathi Suphamongkhon
Caretaker Minister of Foreign Affairs
Ministry of Foreign Affairs
443 Sri Ayudhya Road
Fax: +662 643 5320
Tel: +662 643 5333
Email: email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com
3. Prof. Saneh Chamarik
The National Human Rights Commission of Thailand
422 Phya Thai Road
Pathum Wan District
Tel: +662 2219 2980
Fax: +66 2 219 2940
E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com
4. Prof. Manfred Nowak
Special Rapporteur on the Question of Torture
Attn: Safir Syed
1211 Geneva 10
Tel: +41 22 917 9230
Fax: +41 22 917 9016 (ATTN: SPECIAL RAPPORTEUR TORTURE)
5. Ms. Hina Jilani
Special Representative of the Secretary General for human rights defenders
Att: Melinda Ching Simon
1211 Geneva 10
Tel: +41 22 917 93 88
Fax: +41 22 917 9006 (ATTN: SPECIAL REPRESENTATIVE HUMAN RIGHTS DEFENDERS)
6. Mr. Philip Alston
Special Rapporteur on Extra-judicial, Summary, or Arbitrary Executions
Attn: Lydie Ventre
1211 Geneva 10
Tel: +41 22 917 9155
Fax: +41 22 917 9006 (ATTN: SPECIAL RAPPORTEUR EXECUTIONS)
7. Mr. Stephen J. Toope
UN Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances
Attn: Tanya Smith
1211 Geneva 10
Tel: + 41 22 917 9176
Fax: +41 22 917 9006 (ATTN: WORKING GROUP EXTRAJUDICIAL EXECUTIONS)
Urgent Appeals Programme
Asian Human Rights Commission (firstname.lastname@example.org)