11 July 2024

A former national human rights commissioner has urged the Thai parliament to ratify the United Nations’ Convention against Enforced or Involuntary Disappearance after the now defunct National Legislative Assembly (NLA) failed to endorse the bill.

Writing on her Facebook page today, in the wake of the Department of Special Investigation’s breakthrough in the investigation into the disappearance of Karen activist Polajee “Billy” Rakchongcharoen, Mrs. Angkhana Neelapaijit, citing the 2019 report of the UN Human Rights Council, said that, with 83 cases, Thailand ranks third in ASEAN, after the Philippines and Indonesia, for the number of enforced disappearances.

The cases include those related to the Black May incident in 1992, in which 40 people went missing without a trace, 31 cases concerning the unrest in southern Thailand and several others, including that of her own husband, human rights lawyer Somchai Neelapaijit.

She said that the Thai government has, on several occasions, resisted calls from the UN Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearance (WGEID), including the call in January this year, for Thailand to ratify the Convention.

On January 9, 2012, Thailand signed the convention but, in May 2016, the now defunct NLA decided that ratification of the convention must wait until the passage of a related bill.

Mrs. Angkhana said that the bill was held up in the parliament for three years, until the term of the NLA expired following the March 24 general election.

While Thailand does not currently have a law against enforced disappearance, she suggested that parliament consider ratifying the UN convention to demonstrate Thailand’s commitment to protecting the rights of the individual.