Thailand: Failure of justice for human rights defenders

Asia Human Rights
March 11, 2016
Reproduced with Permission
Asian Human Rights Commission

One year after the assassination of human rights defender Mr. Chai Boontonglek, a member of the Southern Peasants' Federation of Thailand (SPFT), the Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) has learned about persistent impunity in human rights murder cases.

On February 11, the AHRC received information from Human Rights Lawyers Association (HRLA) and Protection International Thailand (PI) that on 28 and 29 January 2016, the Wieng Sra Provincial Court examined the witnesses in criminal case no. 1273/2558 related to Mr. Boontonglek's assassination.

Mr. Boontonglek was a land rights defender of Khlong Sai Pattana community, Chaiburi district, Surat Thani province, southern Thailand. On 11 February 2015, Mr. Boonthonglek was murdered by gunmen outside his community. On 21 May 2015, the Wieng Sra public prosecutor filed a charge against only the motorcyclist involved in the shooting, even though the police had arrested the shooter and target pointer as well. According to the prosecutor, "We had no concrete evidence to prove their guilt."

The lack of charges led to the fear of threats, resulting in some of Mr. Boontonglek's witnesses and their legal team filing a petition requesting witness protection in June 2015. They subsequently received protection from the Chai Buri police station, Surat Thani province.

During the witness examination of January 28-29, Mr. Boontonglek's relative, as co-plaintiff with the Wieng Sra public prosecutor, called four witnesses for examination. These witnesses testified to the relation between the defendant, the shooter and the target pointer. The defendant's three witnesses only confirmed that they were with the defendant during Mr. Boontonglek's murder.

The verdict in Mr. Boontonglek's case will be delivered at the Wieng Sra Provincial Court on March 15 at 9:00 a.m.

Mr. Boontonglek is the fourth human rights defender from Khlong Sai Pattana community to have been murdered since 2010. On 11 January 2010, Mr. Somphom Pattaphum was brutally shot and killed inside Khlong Sai Pattana community land. Two years later, on 19 November 2012, two women land rights defenders, Ms. Montha Chukaew and Ms. Pranee Boonrat, were assassinated and their bodies mutilated on the road to Khlong Sai Pattana community, which passes through an expired palm oil concession land. Nevertheless, no charges were filed nor legal proceedings pursued against anyone involved in these murders of three human rights defenders.

It is therefore important that the Thai government take exhaustive and independent investigations into attacks against all human rights defenders, and punish the perpetrators according to law. Not only is this the means to provide justice to the victims and their families, but it is also fundamental to preventing such attacks.

For further information, please contact:
Miss Junjira Junpaew (Lawyer)
Human Right Lawyer Association (HRLA)
+6683-907-2032 (Thai and English)

Dear Friends,

The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) wishes to forward to you the following press release from Thai Lawyers for Human Rights (TLHR).

Asian Human Rights Commission
Hong Kong

Thailand: Update on Thai Human Rights Lawyer Sirikan Charoensiri's case

Background: Ms. Sirikan Charoensiri is a lawyer from the Thai Lawyers for Human Rights and one of the legal representatives for the 14 activists from the New Democracy Movement (NDM). On the night of 26-27 June 2015, after finishing her duty of providing legal assistance to the 14 activists at the Bangkok Military Court, Sirikan was requested by police officials to search her car to confiscate some mobile phones, which the students left with the lawyers before being brought to the prisons. Sirikan refused to let her car be searched, since the officials did not present a search warrant, and there was no justifiable evidence to conduct the search without a warrant at night. The officials then impounded her car overnight, and brought a court warrant to conduct the search on 27 June 2015. Sirikan later filed a complaint of malfeasance, under Section 157 of the Thai Criminal Code, against Pol.Lt. Gen. Chayapol Chatchayadetch and others for illegally impounding her car. Consequently, the police filed complaints against her, accusing her of refusing to comply with an official order without any reasonable cause or excuse after being informed of an order of an official given according to the power invested by law, and an offence of concealing or making away of property or document ordered by the official to be sent as evidence or for execution of the law, under Sections 368 and 142 of the Thai Criminal Code, and an offence of giving false information concerning a criminal offence to an inquiry official to subject an individual to a punishment under Sections 172 and 174 of the Criminal Code.

Progress of case: