Following a complaint from Surawat Sangkharuek of the People Politics Group about National Human Rights Commissioner Angkhana Neelapaijit being present at the Technological Crime Suppression Division (TSD) when Future Forward Party MP and Secretary-General Piyabutr Saengkanokkul went to hear the charges against him, the National Human Rights Commission of Thailand (NHRCT) has decided not to forward the complaint to the National Anti-Corruption Commission for further action.
On 17 April 2019, Piyabutr was summoned to the TSD to hear allegations made against him by the NCPO’s legal representative Col Burin Thongprapai after Piyabutr read his party’s statement following the dissolution of the Thai Raksa Chart Party. Angkhana went to observe the hearing and said that she went to observe the official proceedings, which is part of the NHRCT’s mission. She said that representatives of the NHRCT have always gone to observe political demonstrations, legal prosecutions, cases of imprisonment, and elections.
“Usually an officer from the NHRCT will go and make a report. Whenever there’s a demonstration, there will be someone from the NHRCT present. It is our job to monitor human rights violations. This is considered normal, but on the day Piyabutr went to hear the charges at the TSD, it was the first day after a long holiday. During the holiday, it was not possible to contact other officers, so when we came back to work on 17 April, I went myself,” said Angkhana.
She also said that representatives of the NHRC also observed the poll in many places in order to see whether polling officers were performing their duties correctly. As for Piyabutr, she said that it is not about politics but about freedom of expression, and she was at the TSD to make sure that Piyabutr was able to access all the rights that he should enjoy.
However, following Angkhana’s appearance at the TSD, Tuang Anthachai, a member of the National Legislative Assembly (NLA), made a comment about her in an NLA meeting, saying that it is inappropriate for a NHRCT commissioner to get involved in a lawsuit against a politician. Pro-junta activist Surawat Sangkharuek then filed a complaint with the NHRCT asking the Commission to conduct a disciplinary inquiry into Angkhana, and to have her removed from her post as Commissioner if her action was in violation of the law.
Today (14 June), the NHRCT issued a statement on the issue, saying that an inquiry to impeach a Commissioner is not within the NHRCT’s authority but is the duty of the NACC, and that it is in the power of the NACC to submit this matter to the Supreme Court for decision if the NACC considers the issue well-grounded.
The statement stated that, after Angkhana gave a verbal statement in a meeting on 30 April and submitted a written clarification on 13 May, the NHRCT meeting resolved, by majority vote, not to forward Surawat’s complaint to the NACC for further action. It also said that consideration of the complaint was not a disciplinary investigation.