Rights body wants results on missing activists
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Rights body wants results on missing activists

Government urged to launch investigations into 9 cases

The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has submitted to the Ministry of Justice an investigation report into nine self-exiled Thai political activists who have disappeared in neighbouring countries, urging the government to pursue the cases seriously.

Sayamol Kaiyoorawong, a member of the NHRC, on Tuesday revealed that she handed the report concerning the disappearance of the activists who fled to neighbouring countries to Somboon Muangklam, an adviser to Justice Minister Tawee Sodsong and chairman of the committee on the Prevention and Suppression of Torture and Enforced Disappearance.

Ms Sayamol said the NHRC had investigated complaints regarding nine missing persons who sought political asylum in Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam between 2017 and 2021.

The missing persons were Ittipon Sukpaen, Wuthipong Kochathamakun, Surachai Danwattananusorn, Chucheep Chiwasut, Kritsana Thapthai, Siam Theerawut and Wanchalearm Satsaksit.

The last two -- Chatcharn Buppawan and Kraidej Luelert -- are deceased. Their bodies were found stuffed in concrete along the Mekong River border with Laos in late 2018.

All cases involve people who violated the Computer Crime Act, Section 112 of the Criminal Code -- known as the lese majeste law -- or undermined political stability.

The NHRC claimed the government has been negligent in pursuing the cases and there has been no progress in prosecuting the perpetrators, making them suspect state agencies might have been involved.

The NHRC found that state agencies had failed to cooperate with the governments of the neighbouring countries to uncover the facts and pursue the cases to learn the fate of the remaining seven activists.

State agencies must abide by legal procedures to establish why they disappeared and bring the perpetrators, if applicable, to justice, it said.

In addition, the government must provide compensation to their families as stipulated in the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance and the Prevention and Suppression of Torture and Enforced Disappearance Act BE 2565 (2022), the agency added.

The NHRC also pointed out that the Damages for the Injured Person and Compensation and Expenses for the Accused in Criminal Case Act BE 2544 (2001) does not set criteria for the government to provide compensation in cases of enforced disappearance.

Furthermore, there was no evidence that state agencies have provided other forms of compensation to the affected families, it noted.

Ms Sayamol said the findings also showed that what the missing activists have in common is that they were part of a group with opinions that differed from those of the government.

The NHRC also urged the cabinet to expedite the ratification of the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment or Punishment.

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