Appendix IV: Selected appeals issued by the AHRC

UP-45-2005: THAILAND: Wife of missing human rights lawyer intimidated

Update on Urgent Appeal
19 April 2005

[RE: FA-06-2004: THAILAND: A human rights lawyer Mr. Somchai Neelaphaijit missing; UA-94-2004: THAILAND: Severe torture victims still in custody while police torturers remain in posts; UP-14-2004: THAILAND: Mr. Somchai Neelaphaijit is still missing and the police may be involved in his disappearance; UP-26-2004: THAILAND: 5 suspects in the alleged abduction of missing human rights lawyer Mr. Somchai Neelaphaijit bailed out; 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: THAILAND: Thai PM orders action on missing human rights lawyer, while court hears of torture] ———————————————————————-
UP-45-2005: THAILAND: Wife of missing human rights lawyer intimidated

THAILAND: Disappearances; Attacks on and threats to human rights defenders; Impunity; Government inaction; Torture
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Dear friends,

Further to our last update on the case of the human rights lawyer Mr Somchai Neelaphaijit, who was abducted over one year ago (UP-37-2005), the Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) is deeply disturbed to report that his wife has been intimidated by suspected intelligence officers or other state agents.

According to the information we have received, yesterday morning, April 18, Ms Angkana Wongkrachain (a.k.a. Angkana Neelaphaijit) had a telephone call from a man whose voice she recognised as that of a government intelligence officer. He asked about her interventions in the United Nations on the case of her missing husband. Additionally, two weeks ago an unidentified man came to talk to her and warn her against high-profile advocacy on her husband’s case, such as going on television or making other public statements.

The AHRC is very concerned by these incidents, which are clearly directed towards intimidating Ms Angkana from continuing with her initiatives to hold the government of Thailand accountable for the disappearance of her husband. We urge you to send a letter to the Minister of Justice of Thailand calling on him to make a public commitment to the protection of Ms Angkana and her family. A sample letter follows.

SUGGESTED ACTION:

Please send a letter without delay to the Minister of Justice of the government of Thailand calling for guarantees of protection to be given to Ms Angkana and her family.

Sample letter:

——————–

Dear Mr Suwat

RE: Wife of missing Thai human rights lawyer Somchai Neelaphaijit intimidated

I am deeply disturbed to hear that the wife of missing Thai human rights lawyer Somchai Neelaphaijit has been intimidated by suspected government intelligence officers.

According to the information I have received, yesterday morning, April 18, Ms Angkana had a telephone call from a man whose voice she recognised as that of a government intelligence officer. He asked about her interventions in the United Nations on the case of her missing husband. Additionally, two weeks ago an unidentified man came to talk to her and warn her against high-profile advocacy on her husband’s case, such as going on television or making other public statements.

It can only be concluded that these actions were aimed at intimidating Ms Angkana from continuing with her initiatives to hold the government of Thailand accountable for the disappearance of her husband.

Accordingly, I urge you to take all necessary steps to guarantee the safety of Ms Angkana, by giving public assurances of her safety and by assigning the Department of Rights and Liberties Protection under your ministry to protect her and her family.

Finally, I again urge you to address fully and immediately the case of her missing husband. It is now well over one year since he was abducted and despite enormous publicity given to his case the government of Thailand has completely failed in its obligations to him and his family to account for his disappearance.

Yours truly

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PLEASE SEND YOUR LETTERS TO:

Mr Suwat Liptapanlop
Minister of Justice
Office of the Ministry of Justice
Ministry of Justice Building
22nd Floor
Chaeng Wattana Road
Pakkred, Nonthaburi
Bangkok 11120
THAILAND
Fax: +662 502 6699/ 6734 / 6884
Email: ommoj@moj.go.th

PLEASE SEND COPIES TO:

1. Dr Thaksin Shinawatra
Prime Minister
Government House
Pissanulok Road, Dusit
Bangkok 10300
THAILAND
Tel: +662 280 1404/ 3000
Fax: +66 2 282 8631/ 280 1589/ 629 8213
Email: thaksin@thaigov.go.th, govspkman@mozart.inet.co.th

2. Professor Saneh Chamarik
Chairperson
The National Human Rights Commission of Thailand
422 Phya Thai Road
Pathurn Wan District
Bangkok 10300
THAILAND
Fax: +66 2 219 2940
Email: commission@nhrc.or.th

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

4. Mr. Diego Garcia-Sayan,
Chairperson
UN Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances
C/o OHCHR-UNOG, 1211 Geneva 10,
SWITZERLAND
Fax: +41 22 917 9006
E-mail: urgent-action@ohchr.org

5. Ms Hina Jilani
Special Representative of the Secretary General on human rights defenders
Att: Ben Majekodunmi
Room 1-040
C/o OHCHR-UNOG
1211 Geneva 10
SWITZERLAND
Fax: +41 22 917 9006
E-mail: bmajekodunmi@ohchr.org

Thank you.

Urgent Appeals Programme
Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC)

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Letter to Ministry of Justice concerning eyewitnesses in case of Somchai Neelaphaijit

30 August 2005

Mr Charnchao Chaiyanukij
Director-General
Department of Rights and Liberties Protection
Ministry of Justice
Ministry of Justice Building
15th Floor
Chaeng Wattana Road
Pakkred, Nonthaburi
Bangkok 11120
THAILAND

Fax:  +66 2 502 8195 / 8086
Pages:  6

Dear Mr Charnchao

Re: Case of missing lawyer Somchai Neelaphaijit and role of the Department of Rights and Liberties Protection

I am writing to you from the Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) with regards to the ongoing and as yet unresolved matter of the disappearance of human rights lawyer Somchai Neelaphaijit.

Representatives of the Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) have in recent days attended the court hearings against the five accused police officers in relation to the abduction of the said lawyer.

While we are unaware as to whether or not you have sent anyone to be in attendance at the said hearings, which are continuing every second week in the Criminal Court, we would expect that in view of the express importance of this case you would certainly deem it necessary to do so, and to keep abreast of all the details that come out in the course of the hearings.

We are particularly concerned that the necessary protections be provided by your department for witnesses coming before the court. In particular, the AHRC along with other independent observers have noted an atmosphere of considerable intimidation towards eyewitnesses to the alleged abduction when they have come to testify in the court. The eyewitnesses have refused to positively identify any of the accused in court, despite earlier statements recorded by investigators. These eyewitnesses have apparently come to the court unattended and without any kind of protection whatsoever. Even during break times they are left on their own and may accidentally or otherwise suddenly find themselves mingling with the accused police officers, their lawyers or others in court sympathetic to the defence. Clearly this is a dissatisfactory situation and more needs to be done with regards to the interests and needs of these witnesses in order that they feel free to give full and complete testimony.

We look forward to seeing you in court when the hearings resume on September 7, as well as hearing of actions taken by your department to address these concerns with regards to the witnesses for the prosecution.

Please also find attached two letters on the same matter addressed to the Director-General of the Department of Special Investigation, and the Chairperson of the National Human Rights Commission.

Yours sincerely

Basil Fernando
Executive Director

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UP-157-2005: THAILAND: Alleged torture victim withdraws his complaint against the police

Update on Urgent Appeal
2 December 2005

[RE: UA-153-2004: THAILAND: Two cases of extremely serious torture and cruel and inhuman treatment by Thai police officers; UP-71-2004: THAILAND: More serious allegations of police torture emerge in Thailand; UP-75-2004: THAILAND: Demand immediate criminal action against police torturers; UP-78-2004: THAILAND: Torture cases transferred to special investigators, but police still free] —————————————————————————–
UP-157-2005: THAILAND: Alleged tortured victim withdraws his complaint against the police

THAILAND: Torture; cruel and inhuman treatment; forced confession; impunity; illegal detention; denial of due process rights
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Dear friends,

The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) writes to inform you that an alleged victim of physical assault and attempted murder by Thai police has now withdrawn his complaint. Mr. Ekkawat Srimanta sought legal assistance from the Law Society to bring charges of physical assault and attempted murder against 26 police officers from the Ayutthaya province. During this alleged crime, Mr. Ekkawat is said to have had electric shocks applied to his penis.

However, it has now been learned that prior to the hearing of his case on 11 November 2005, Mr. Ekkawat withdrew his lawsuit, giving no explanation as to why. The Law Society was not informed of Mr. Ekkawat’s decision, and only came to know of it when Mr. Ekkawat failed to appear in court. The Law Society has subsequently suspended its legal assistance to Mr. Ekkawat, whose whereabouts are currently unknown.

The AHRC is concerned that the reason for this conclusion is that the police coerced the victim into accepting money to withdraw his case prior to him giving evidence in court, in the same manner as torture victim Mr Urai Srineh (UP-137-2005). With the prospects of being able to lay criminal charges next to none, the prospects of obtaining compensation slim and a long way off, and the prospects of getting adequate and immediate protection also dim and little known, the average victim of torture in Thailand has few choices. Inevitably, the withdrawal of cases under coercion and offers of money is a common occurrence.

Evident from this case is that there is no adequate means by which persons can make complaints of torture and other gross abuses by the police and have them investigated and the perpetrators prosecuted. The government, therefore, must take all necessary steps to remedy this serious institutional gap. One such step, and undoubtedly the most important, would be to ratify the UN Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment without delay.

Please write to the Minister of Justice (MoJ) to express your concerns over the lack of effective witness protection in Thailand, which is denying victims justice and allowing for impunity within the police force. Please also urge the MoJ to call for this case to be taken up by the Department of Special Investigation (DSI) under his ministry. Irrespective of Mr. Ekkawat withdrawing his case, the DSI and the National Human Rights Commission should continue in their investigations. These investigations should include inquiries as to why Mr. Ekkawat withdrew his case.

Urgent Appeals Programme
Asian Human Rights Commission
———————————————————————————

SUGGESTED ACTION:

Please write to the Minister of Justice calling for this case to be investigated by the Department of Special Investigation under his ministry, and for proper witness protection to be afforded to the victim in order that he feel able to give a true account of what allegedly happened to him.

Suggested letter:

Dear Pol. Gen. Chidchai

THAILAND: Alleged torture victim withdraws his complaint against the police

I am concerned by the recent action taken by alleged torture victim Mr. Ekkawat Srimanta to withdraw his lawsuit against 26 police officers from Ayutthaya province, who reportedly applied electric shocks to his penis.

Despite having initially sought legal assistance from the Law Society in bringing his perpetrators to justice, Mr. Ekkawat has now withdrawn his case stating that the lawsuit was based on a misunderstanding. The Law Society themselves only came to know of Mr. Ekkawat’s decision when he failed to appear in court for a November 11 hearing.

I am worried that the reason for this is that Mr. Ekkawat was coerced into taking money to contradict his earlier story about what had happened to him. The horrific injuries Mr. Ekkawat sustained during his torture, which were publicly documented in Thailand, make any possible ‘misunderstanding’ doubtful. I am also aware that there have been other cases in Thailand, such as the one involving alleged torture victim Mr Urai Srineh, where police coercion was also assumed to have been used.

In view of the seriousness of this case and the confusion surrounding the circumstances of Mr. Ekkawat’s withdrawal of the suit, I urge you to see to it that the Department of Special Investigation is assigned to investigate, if it has not done so already. I also urge you to ensure that Mr. Ekkawat’s whereabouts are located and that adequate witness protection is given to him in order that he is able to tell the truth about what happened to him without fear of repercussions.

In that regard, I would also request that you move to develop the Office of Witness Protection in Thailand so that it be able to play a greater role in providing security for witnesses and victims of gross violations of human rights in Thailand.

Evident from this case is that there is no adequate means by which persons can make complaints of torture and other gross abuses by the police and have them investigated and the perpetrators prosecuted. The government, therefore, must take all necessary steps to remedy this serious institutional gap. One such step, and undoubtedly the most important, would be to ratify the UN Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment without delay.

Finally, I would also call upon the National Human Rights Commission to ensure that it continue to investigate this matter, irrespective of the case being dropped, including establishing as to why Mr. Ekkawat withdrew his case.

I trust that you will take immediate action in this matter.

Yours sincerely,

——————————-

PLEASE SEND YOUR LETTER TO:

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

PLEASE SEND COPIES TO:

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

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

3. Prof. Saneh Chamarik
Chairperson
The National Human Rights Commission of Thailand
422 Phya Thai Road
Pathum Wan District
Bangkok 10300
THAILAND
Tel: +662 2219 2980
Fax: +66 2 219 2940
E-mail: commission@nhrc.or.th or saneh@nhrc.or.th

4. Prof. Manfred Nowak
Special Rapporteur on the Question of Torture
Attn: Mr. Safir Syed
C/o OHCHR-UNOG
1211 Geneva 10
SWITZERLAND
Tel: +41 22 917 9230
Fax: +41 22 917 9016 (ATTN: SPECIAL RAPPORTEUR TORTURE)
E-mail: ssyed@ohchr.org

Thank you.

Urgent Appeals Programme
Asian Human Rights Commission

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UP-028-2006: THAILAND: Protection withdrawn from monk who continues to receive death threats

Update on Urgent Appeal
15 February 2006

[RE: UA-112-2005: THAILAND: Murder of Thai monk following an environmental and land dispute with local influential business figures] ———————————————————————
UP-028-2006: THAILAND: Protection withdrawn from monk who continues to receive death threats

THAILAND: Intimidation; impunity; non-investigation; denial of witness protection
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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).

__________________________

SUGGESTED ACTION:

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.

Suggested letter:

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,

__________________________

PLEASE SEND YOUR LETTER TO:

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
THAILAND
Tel: +662 502 6776/ 8223
Fax: +662 502 6699/ 6734 / 6884
Email: ommoj@moj.go.th; chidchai@moj.go.th

PLEASE SEND COPIES TO:

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

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

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

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

5. Mr. Philip Alston
Special Rapporteur on Extra-judicial, Summary, or Arbitrary Executions
Atten: Lydie Ventre
Room 3-016
c/o OHCHR-UNOG
1211 Geneva 10
SWITZERLAND
Tel: +41 22 917 9155
Fax: +41 22 917 9006 (ATTN: SPECIAL RAPPORTEUR EXTRAJUCIDICIAL EXECUTIONS)
Email: urgent-action@ohchr.org; lventre@ohchr.org

Thank you.

Urgent Appeals Programme
Asian Human Rights Commission (ahrchk@ahrchk.org)

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