Phra Supoj Suvacano, a Buddhist monk, was killed for challenging the efforts of businessmen to take control of forest lands belonging to the temple and his local community. One year after his death, there have been no signs of progress. He is one of more than 20 defenders killed in the last five years.
This month, Human Rights First released a report documenting these attacks on defenders as well as arbitrary arrests and disappearances in the conflict area of southern Thailand. It’s called Losing Ground: Human Rights Defenders and Counterterrorism in Thailand.
End Impunity for the Murder of Thai Rights Defenders
One year ago the Thai Ministry of Justice assigned its Department of Special Investigations to two defender cases:
Somchai Neelaphaijit went missing soon after filing a torture complaint against the police. The noted Muslim lawyer was last seen being forced into a car in Bangkok on March 12, 2004.
Phra Supoj Suvacano was killed in June 2005 after the Buddhist monk challenged efforts by businessmen to take control of forest lands belonging to the local community and the temple.
Five policemen were arrested in connection with the lawyer’s disappearance, but the trial was marred by a weak police investigation and charges that did not fit the crime. Four defendants were acquitted and one was convicted in January 2006 on a single charge of coercion.
The police force cannot be entrusted with investigating its own members. The Department of Special Investigations was created precisely to handle sensitive and complex cases.
Soon after the verdict, the Prime Minister assured the public that the DSI was still on the case and that new charges would be filed within weeks. That was five months ago. There is no sign of an active investigation, let alone results in the form of new suspects or charges. In the case of Phra Supoj, there have been no signs of progress one year after the investigation supposedly began.
Please call on the Minister of Justice to hold the Department of Special Investigations accountable and to demand progress in these important cases.
New Report (PDF) : Phra Supoj and Somchai Neelaphaijit are just two of the defenders featured in a new report from Human Rights First, “Losing Ground.” More than 20 defenders throughout Thailand have been murdered or “disappeared” with impunity over five years. The report also describes how one year after a flawed emergency decree took effect, essential human rights protections have been weakened in the name of security, further fueling the violence in southern Thailand.
Read Report: Losing Ground: Human Rights Defenders and Counterterrorism in Thailand
Trial Monitoring Report: The Disappearance of Somchai Neelaphaijit
Click here to write the Minister of Justice of Thailand about the worsening human rights situation in that country: