Thailand: Fully implement the convention on enforced disappearances


On the day the International Convention for the Protection of all Persons from Enforced Disappearance (ICPPED) enters into force in Thailand, the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH), Union for Civil Liberty (UCL), and Thai Lawyers for Human Rights (TLHR) urge Thai authorities to fully implement the convention’s provisions without delay.

Bangkok, Paris, 13 June 2024. FIDH, UCL, and TLHR welcome the entry into force of the ICPPED in Thailand today, upon the Thai government’s ratification of the treaty on 14 May 2024, and call on the Thai authorities to ensure the country’s full compliance, in law and practice, with its obligations under the convention.

These include the obligation to "take appropriate measures" to investigate enforced disappearances and to bring those responsible to justice, as stipulated in Article 3 of the ICPPED. Article 12(1) further imposes an obligation on competent authorities to examine allegations of enforced disappearances "promptly and impartially and, where necessary, undertake without delay a thorough and impartial investigation".

FIDH, UCL, and TLHR reiterate their calls on the Thai government to resolve all cases of enforced disappearances that occurred in the country, particularly in the context of transnational repression against activists and human rights defenders in the region, and ensure the victims’ families have effective access to justice and receive adequate reparations.

The fate or whereabouts of at least seven Thai activists, who disappeared under suspicious circumstances amid efforts by Thai authorities to persecute dissidents in neighboring countries following the military coup in May 2014, remain unknown. One of them, Wanchalearm Satsaksit, was abducted in broad daylight on 4 June 2020 in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. Cambodia is a state party to the ICPPED.

With regard to Mr. Wanchalearm’s enforced disappearance, Thailand and Cambodia have an obligation to afford "the greatest measure of mutual legal assistance in connection with criminal proceedings […], including the supply of all evidence at their disposal that is necessary for the proceedings", in accordance with Article 14 of the ICPPED. Under Article 15, authorities in Thailand and Cambodia also have an obligation to cooperate with each other in assisting Mr. Wanchalearm’s family and searching for, locating and releasing him.

The issue of cooperation in the context of transnational repression of activists was raised by the United Nations (UN) Committee on Enforced Disappearances (CED) in March 2024, following its review of Cambodia’s first report under the ICPPED. The CED monitors state parties’ compliance with their legal obligations under the ICPPED.

The CED expressed concern by reports on the lack of cooperation with the disappeared persons’ state of nationality to assist the victims in searching for, locating, and releasing the disappeared persons, and by allegations of "authorities in the region failing to adequately investigate cases of cross-border disappearances".

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