Threats / Harassment - THA 001 / 0106 / OBS 005.1

05/04/2007
Urgent Appeal

The Observatory has been informed by Union for Civil Liberty (UCL) about threats against Mrs. Angkhana Wongrachen, an active human rights defender in her country as well as the wife of Mr. Somchai Neelaphaijit, former Chair of the Muslim Lawyers Association and Vice-Chair of the Human Rights Committee of the Lawyers Association of Thailand, who forcibly disappeared in March 2004.

The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a joint programme of the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT) and the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH), has received new information concerning the situation of human rights defenders in Thailand.

New Information:

According to the information received, on March 12, 2007, Mrs. Angkhana Wongrachen lodged a complaint to the central Administrative Court in Bangkok about the failure of the police investigation into the abduction of her husband three years earlier. In her complaint, she said that the police department had failed to comply with domestic regulations because the five policemen who were accused in the criminal case connected to her husband’s abduction, are still working in the police, even though the case is still pending appeal (See background information and Observatory 2006 Annual Report).

The very same day, the police chief in Thailand, Pol. Gen. Seripisuth Themiyavet warned Mrs. Angkhana Wongrachen that she would become his enemy if she kept pushing about her husband’s case.

More recently, two of the five policemen prosecuted have been transferred in the north east of the country to another department while Mrs. Wongrachen wanted them to be suspended from duty until the case is completed to the courts.

Background information:

Mr. Somchai disappeared on the night of March 12 to 13, 2004. Shortly before his disappearance, he had received threatening anonymous phone calls and was informed that security forces had put his name on a list of members of terrorist groups.

Mr. Somchai had campaigned for the martial law to be lifted in the southern provinces and for justice for Muslims suspected of terrorist activities and treason. He had also denounced the fact that some Muslims accused of terrorism had been tortured during police investigations. His various activities had raised tension between him and the security forces, which were most likely involved in his enforced disappearance.

Five policemen were charged for “coercion” and “gang robbery”, since enforced disappearance is not recognised as an offence in Thailand. On January 12, 2006, the Bangkok Criminal Court found one of the policemen guilty of forcing Mr. Somchai into a car and sentenced him to three years’ imprisonment. The four other accused were acquitted due to lack of evidence.

Throughout 2006, Mrs. Angkana Wongrachen continued to be the victim of acts of intimidation. In particular, she regularly received telephone calls from people who “advise” her to drop the charges.

On Wednesday 28, 2007, a Thai Foreign Ministry spokeswoman announced in a seminar organised at the National Human Rights Commission Office that Thailand will soon sign the Convention for the Protection of all Persons from Enforced Disappearances. The Observatory welcomes such a commitment and hopes that it will concretise shortly.

Action required:

Please write to the authorities of Thailand urging them to:

i. take all necessary measures to guarantee, in all circumstances, the physical and psychological integrity of Mrs. Angkana Wongrachen,

ii. Put an end to all acts of harassment against Mrs. Wongrachen and all human rights defenders in Thailand.

iii. Conform with the provisions of the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, adopted by the General Assembly of the United Nations on December 9, 1998, especially its Article 1, which states that “everyone has the right, individually and in association with others, to promote and to strive for the protection and realisation of human rights and fundamental freedoms at the national and international levels”, as well as its Article 9 (1), which states that “in the exercise of human rights and fundamental freedoms, including the promotion and protection of human rights as referred to in the present Declaration, everyone has the right, individually and in association with others, to benefit from an effective remedy and to be protected in the event of the violation of those rights” and its Article 9 (5), which provides that “the State shall conduct a prompt and impartial investigation or ensure that an inquiry takes place whenever there is reasonable ground to believe that a violation of human rights and fundamental freedoms has occurred in any territory under its jurisdiction”.

iv. Ensure in all circumstances respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms in accordance with international human rights standards and international instruments ratified by Thailand.

Addresses:

General Surayud Chulanont, Interim Prime Minister, c/o Government House, Pitsanulok Road, Dusit District, Bangkok 10300, Thailand; Tel: +662 280 1404/ 3000; Fax: +662 282 8631/ 280 1589/ 629 8213; E-mail: spokesman@thaigov.go.th

Mr. Charnchai Likitjitta, Interim 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

Mr. Pachara Yutidhammadamrong, Attorney General, Office of the Attorney General, Lukmuang Building, Nahuppei Road, Prabraromrachawang, Pranakorn, Bangkok 10200, Thailand; Tel: +662 224 1563/ 222 8121-30 ; Fax: +662 224 0162/ 1448/ 221 0858 ; E-mail: ag@ago.go.th

Prof. Saneh Chamarik, Chairperson, 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

Ambassador Mr. Chaiyong Satjipanon, Permanent Mission of Thailand to the United Nations in Geneva, rue Gustave Moynier 5, 1202 Geneva, Switzerland, Tel: + 41 22 715 10 10; Fax: + 41 22 715 10 00 / 10 02; Email: mission.thailand@ties.itu.int

Embassy of Thailand in Brussels, 2 Sq. du Val de la Cambre, 1050 Ixelles, Belgium, Tel : + 32 2 640.68.10; Fax : + 32 2 .648.30.66. Email : thaibxl@pophost.eunet.be

Please also write to the diplomatic representations of Thailand in your respective countries.

***

Geneva-Paris, April 5, 2007

Kindly inform the Observatory of any action undertaken quoting the code number of this appeal in your reply.

The Observatory, a FIDH and OMCT venture, is dedicated to the protection of Human Rights Defenders and aims to offer them concrete support in their time of need.

To contact the Observatory, call the emergency line:
Tel and fax FIDH: +33 (0) 1 43 55 20 11 / 43 55 18 80
Tel and fax OMCT: (+ 41 22) 809 49 39 / 809 49 29
Email: Appeals@fidh-omct.org

Read more
appelobs