BANGKOK – The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights for the United Nations, Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, urged Thailand to investigate the whereabouts of at least 82 people listed as disappeared since 1980, Asia One reported Thursday.
Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein said “All of the families of those who have disappeared have the right to know the truth regarding the disappearance of their kin, as well as any progress and the results of investigations.”
The Commissioner specifically mentioned the case of Muslim-origin lawyer Somchai Neelapaijit, who went missing in March 2004 while defending the rights of people arrested under martial law in southern Thailand, according to Prachatai portal.
In December, the Supreme Court upheld a decision by the Appeals Court to absolve five police officers accused of involvement in Somchai’s disappearance, despite witnesses claiming to have seen them forcing the lawyer into a car on the night he went missing.
“The Supreme Court of Thailand missed an opportunity to protect the rights of the victims to truth, justice and redress in cases of involuntary and enforced disappearance,” Zeid said.
“The judiciary’s role is not only to interpret laws and procedures but also to protect and defend their citizens’ rights,” he added.
Moreover, Zeid called on the authorities to ratify the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance, signed by Thailand in January 2012.
Opposition groups and human rights organizations have denounced that the military junta, governing Thailand since the coup in 2014, has used martial law and other laws and decrees to strangle freedom of expression in the country.