Revisit investigation of enforced disappearance of Somchai Neelapaijit

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It’s been 12 years since I, Ankhana Neelapaijit and my 5 children have not seen Attorney Somchai Neelapaijit, Chairman of the Muslim Lawyer Club and Vice-Chairman of the Human Rights Commission, the Council of Lawyers and, more importantly, my “husband” and my children’s “father”. All that is left are grief, questions and a lawsuit which ended in a loss.

Before his disappearance, Attorney Somchai Neelapaijit was conducting a case for people in Thailand’s southern border area who had allegedly been tortured to confess to a crime until March 12, 2004. He has never been seen since he parted with his attorney friends around Ramkhamhaeng district, Bangkok. I and my family filed a lawsuit against 5 police officers, one of whom was accused by Attorney Somchai Neelapaijit’s clients of being responsible for the tortures.

As the Neelapaijit family’s hope for a reunion grew dimmer, the last opportunity for me and my children for a taste of justice also ended. Thai Supreme Court ruled on December 29, 2005 that the 5 police officers be acquitted. The credible evidence on telephone uses submitted by our party was never even considered. What happened was an immense aggravation adding to our 12-year-long mental agony.

Today, I, Attorney Somchai Neelapaijit’s wife and the person who directly suffers the impact, in cooperation with Amnesty International Thailand who helps to establish this campaign solemnly urge the Thai government and authorities to;

  • expedite, through the Department of Special Investigation, a serious investigation into Somchai Neelapaijit’s disappearance.
  • ensure independent, transparent, and effective investigations into not only Somchai Neelapaijit’s disappearance but also all other disappearances in Thailand, order a suspension from duty anyone reasonably suspected of being involved in such disappearances, and bring the suspects into a process of fair trial.
  • enact a law on the prevention and suppression of torture and enforced disappearances in full compliance with the UN Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or punishment, and the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from enforced disappearance, including  expressly criminalizing torture and enforced disappearance as defined in these conventions.
  • ratify the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from enforced disappearance and implement its provisions in national legislation.
  • clarify the fate and whereabouts of those forcibly disappeared and ensure that those responsible for their disappearance are brought to justice.
  • ensure that the victims of human rights violations and their families receive full reparation.

Although I have been told that Somchai Neelapaijit had been tortured to death, none of the government’s agencies has announced an official report of what happened to this Thailand’s important attorney and an important member of our family.

The “truth” is still lurking in a dark corner somewhere in Thai society. I’d like to invite everyone in Thailand and around the world to use this opportunity of the 12th anniversary of my husband’s disappearance to call upon the Thai government and the authorities involved to bring justice to Somchai Neelapaijit, the Neelapaijit family and other Thai people who have been enforced to disappear.

“An enforced disappearance is not a distant incident. It can happen to anybody, especially your family members or your loved ones. Join us to put an end to enforced disappearances in Thailand”

— Ankhana Neelapaijit