Remembering Rights Defender: 12 Years of “Lawyer Somchai” and Disappearing Justice

11 March 2016


It has been 12 years that Angkana Neelapaijit and her 5 children have not seen Lawyer Somchai Neelapaijit, Chairman of Muslim Lawyers Club and Human Rights Vice Chairman of the Lawyers Council. More importantly, the “husband” and “father” of the family has only left sorrow, questions and the lawsuit ending in defeat.


Prior to his disappearance, “Lawyer Somchai” conducted a case for the people in the southern border area who claimed to have been tortured by state officials for confession. Until the night of 12th March 2004, no one ever found Lawyer Somchai after he split up with his lawyer friends in Ramkhamhaeng neighborhood. Soon later, the Neelapaijit family was a plaintiff filing a lawsuit against the defendants who are five police officers, one of which was a police officer who has been accused of torturing his suspects by Somchai’s client.


The hope to see Lawyer Somchai has started to disappeared and so has the chance for the Neelapaijit family to taste the taste of justice. After the Supreme Court ruled on 29th December 2015, the case against the five police officers was dismissed with the statement clarifying that the evidence lacked credibility, and Angkana and her children were not allowed to be joint prosecutors.



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Even though the Neelapaijit family received the information that Lawyer Somchai was tortured to death, no public agency gave an official report on what happened to this important lawyer of Thailand 12 years ago.


“The truth” is still hidden in a dark corner somewhere in the Thai society. Let’s take this opportunity of the 12th anniversary of Lawyer Somchai’s disappearance to urge the Thai government and relevant public authorities to bring justice to Lawyer Somchai and the Neelapaijit family, as well as those who are believed to have been forced to disappear.


Amnesty International Thailand would like to call on the Thai government and all relevant public authorities to…

- Investigate the disappearance of Mr. Somchai Neelapaijit and those who are belived to have been forced to disappear in Thailand independently, transparently and effectively and order suspension for public officials who might have been involved in the forced disappearance,

- Pass the Prevention and Suppression of Torture and Forced Disappearance Act B.E. ….., the content of which must be in accordance with the 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, which includes the clear determination of torture and enforced disappearance as a criminal offense as defined in the aforesaid Conventions,

- Ratify the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance and enforce the laws in the country to be in accordance with the aforesaid Convention,

- Identify the address and fate of those believed to have been forced to disappear and guarantee to bring offenders into the justice process,

- Ensure that the victims of human rights violation and their family will receive the full remedy.