August 29, 2019
Joint written statement* submitted by Lawyers’ Rights Watch Canada, non-governmental organization in special consultative status, and Asian Legal Resource Centre, non-government organization in general consultative status
Thai Lawyers for Human Rights (TLHR), NGO without consultative status, also shares the views expressed in this statement.
Unforgotten in Thailand: Ensure truth, justice, and reparations for victims of enforced disappearance
- Introduction: Persistent impunity for enforced disappearances
A pattern of impunity for enforced disappearances persists in Thailand despite years of promises to ratify the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance (UNCED) and to pass legislation making enforced disappearance a crime. The United Nations (UN) Working Group on Enforced and Involuntary Disappearances (WGEID) reports 82 unresolved cases of enforced disappearances since 1980. This number represents a fraction of Thailand’s enforced disappearances since the 1950s, as families and witnesses remain silent for fear of reprisals. Those most vulnerable to enforced disappearances belong to minorities or indigenous peoples. Also at risk are human rights defenders (defenders) or peaceful government critics.Thailand’s current laws foster impunity for enforced disappearance; when a body is not found, murder charges are not laid. No public officials have ever been held accountable for suspected involvement in enforced disappearances. The persistent pattern of impunity for enforced disappearances constitutes a grave violation of Thailand’s obligations under customary international law and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) to which Thailand acceded in 1996.
The risk of enforced disappearances is heightened by the practice of incommunicado detention of political opponents, suspects in national security cases, and suspected insurgents in southern provinces.