Amnesty welcoming Thailand-Cambodia’s facilitation to make Wanchalearm’s sister’s trip to give evidence in Cambodia possible after the wait of more than five months 

10 November 2020

Amnesty International Thailand

Piyanut Kotsan, Director of Amnesty International Thailand, reveals that after more than five months since Wanchalearm Satsaksit was last seen in Cambodia’s Phnom Penh, there has been barely any progress as to the investigation into his enforced disappearance. His family still looks forward to knowing his whereabouts and the reasons for his disappearance, identity of the perpetrators and to having the perpetrators brought to justice.  

Lately, it has been reported that Ms. Sitanan Satsaksit, Wanchalearm Satsaksit’s sister will travel to Cambodia on 10 November with the team of lawyers to give evidence to the Cambodian authorities regarding the disappearance of her younger brother. Although she is due to give evidence on 8 December 2020 but given the Covid-19 pandemic and there is only one flight a month to Cambodia, she has to travel almost one month in advance.  

“We welcome Thailand’s and Cambodia’s facilitation including the issuance of special visas to make possible the trip by Ms. Sitanan Satsaksit, Wanchalearm Satsaksit’s sister and the team of lawyers to give evidence pursuant to the summon issued by the Municipal Court of Phnom Penh.

“We urge both countries to ensure safety of Wanchalearm’s sister and her team of lawyers while staying in Cambodia. As members of the family of the disappeared, they deserve protection and the right to know the truth and to restore justice.

“We hold firm on our outstanding demand for the Cambodia authorities to expedite the effort to effectively, urgently, thoroughly and transparently investigate Wanchalearm’s disappearance and to bring justice to the family of the disappeared immediately since the last five month saw no progress in terms of the legal case.”

Previously, Amnesty International has launched the global Urgent Action campaign to invite our supporters around the world to write to Prime Minister Hun Sen and to demand the Cambodian authorities expedite the effort the investigate an allegation of Wanchalearm’s disappearance and to inform his family his whereabouts as well as to try any suspect in this case in a civilian court through a fair trial. We also urge Cambodia to act in compliance with the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance to which Cambodia is a state party and to not deport Wanchalearm to Thailand in compliance with the international obligation to refrain from sending a person to a place where it is highly likely that the person shall face human rights violation. Amnesty International Thailand has sent names of more than 10,000 supporters to Wanchalearm’s sister who will hand them over to Cambodia.


Background information

While exiling in Cambodia, Wanchalearm Satsaksit, a Thai activist and blogger, was abducted by unknown persons from outside of his apartment in Cambodia’s Phnom Penh on the past 4 June. He had been living in exile since being summoned by the Thai authorities to undergo an attitude adjustment program in the wake of the military coup in 2014. In 2018, he also faced charges filed by the Thai authorities, mostly related to offences committed since 2018 including the offence against the Computer Crime Act. He was accused of posting anti-government messages in a facebook page.  Throughout the past four months, his family and civil society in Thailand have been monitoring the case, but there has been no progress.  

The trip to Cambodia of Ms. Sitanan Satsaksit, Wanchalearm Satsaksit’s sister and the team of lawyers has been made possible with help from the Bureau of Protection of Thai Nationals Abroad, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs which has coordinated with the Cambodian Embassy in Thailand to issue a Courtesy Visas on a government to government basis during the Covid-19 pandemic. This type of visas can only be issued to persons who really need to travel in and out of the country.  

There has been a report on  5 November that reporters have asked an official from the Royal Thai Police about the disappearance of Wanchalearm “Tar” Satsaksit, a Thai political exile in Cambodia who said that the Thai police have an  Assistant to Police and Public Security Attaché posted in Cambodia to regularly liaise and share information with the Cambodian police. They insist that an investigation has been ongoing, although the past five months saw little progress and meager material evidence. Lately, we have been informed by Wanchalearm’s family that a complaint will be filed with Cambodia.