August 30, 2009 was observed as the International Day on Enforced Disappearances. It is the day on which people around the world gather to acknowledge persons who have disappeared. The causes of these disappearances are human rights violations, wars and suppression of so called ‘terrorism’ taking place in many countries. All these have caused the deaths of many people.
Enforced disappearance is one of the worst crimes against humanity. This violation has been going on for a long time. It has brought great devastation to the victims, their families, the community and society, not to mention the entire rule of law and the judicial system. Enforced disappearance has been an issue for Thai society for some time. And the judicial system has not made much of an attempt to end impunity. In addition, Thai law is not able to give an answer to the cases of disappearances (no law to address this special crime). The question is how responsible is Thai law to compensate the families of disappeared persons? These families have to face enormous obstacles along the way in order to find justice. We are talking about such things as: not having access to needed information, the destruction of evidence, the threatening of witnesses. These obstacles cause families to mistrust the complaint process and to continue their fight with the judicial system to find justice for their cause.
In Thailand the case that has gone the furthest in the judicial system is the case of the disappearance of Mr Somchai Neelapaichit. The following cases also need to be mentioned: October 14, 1973, October 19, 1976, The Bloody May 1992, the unrest in the southern border provinces, the war on drugs in the North and Northeast and the marginalized people. The First Court of Thailand made the judgment that a police officer was behind the disappearance of Mr Somchai Neelapaichit. However, this case was delayed and interfered with all along the process. This included the stage of the investigation of the Office of the National Anti-Corruption Commission (NCC) to the stage of the involvement of the Department of Special Investigation (DSI).
To honor the International Day of Enforced Disappearance, the Working Group on Justice for Peace (WGJP) would like to make a request of the Thai government. We would like to see comprehensive action taken against enforced disappearances. The government must show its sincerity by finding persons who have disappeared. Special attention must be paid to the investigation of unidentified bodies found all over the country. It goes without saying that the perpetrators must be punished and the culture of impunity ended. The WGJP recommends that the first action of the government should be to ratify the International Convention on the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance. This action would protect people from disappearing, would build trust in the judicial system and would establish an actual rule of law. We believe that the disappearance of a person is as serious as the disappearance of the justice system.