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UN rights chief: Thailand must fully investigate forced disappearances

[JURIST] UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein [official profile] on Wednesday said that the Thai government should fully investigate [press release] the whereabouts of at least 82 people listed as disappeared, and criminalize forced disappearance through legislation. Included on the list of disappeared is lawyer Somchai Neelapaijit, who went missing nearly 12 years ago. Witnesses at the time reported seeing Somchai being forced into a car on the night he disappeared, which occurred [HRW report] in the midst of a high-profile lawsuit he was handling, which alleged police torture of several Muslim suspects. Six successive Thai prime ministers have called on law enforcement agencies to throw their full weight behind investigations to no avail. The high commissioner on Wednesday stated, "[a]ll 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."

Human rights groups worldwide have expressed growing concern over Thailand's governmental impunity since it became a military junta in May 2014. Last month Amnesty International called for [JURIST report] a thorough investigation into torture allegations levied against the police responsible for the arrests of two men in relation to the Koh Tao murders. The men, Zaw Lin and Win Zaw Tun, were found guilty of the murder of two British tourists in the vacation island of Koh Tao. The defense team for the Myanmar nationals claims that their confessions were coerced, and that DNA evidence linking the men to the crime was severely mishandled and unreliable. The previous month Human Rights Watch said that a proposed provision [JURIST report] in Thailand's constitution would permit the nation's military to commit human rights abuses without fear of punishment in violation of international treaties. A new constitutional provision before Thailand's legislative body, known as the National Council for Peace and Order, would exculpate the use of force by military personnel if the conduct is "carried out with honest intention" in the interest of national security. Earlier that month the UN Human Rights Office for South-East Asia urged Thailand to immediately close [JURIST report] a military detention center in Bangkok where two high-profile inmates died in October.

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