Thailand, ASEAN urged to undertake independent investigations after failure of the Cambodian investigation

4 June 2021

Amnesty International Thailand

Amnesty International Thailand has submitted an open letter to the Ministry of Justice demanding prompt actions to prosecute and to revise the law in compliance with international standards to end torture and enforced disappearances. The Thai authorities are also urged to launch a formal investigation into the enforced disappearance of Wanchalearm Satsaksit, a Thai activist who was last seen in Cambodia’s Phnom Penh since there has been no progress in the Cambodian investigation. An activity will be held to mark the anniversary “One Year, We shall not forget #OneYearJusticeBeRestoredForWanchalearm “.  

Activists from Amnesty International Thailand and Wanchalearm’s family will be clad in colorful Hawaiian shirts often worn by Wanchalearm and put on Wanchalearm masks while holding the sign that reads #OneYearJusticeBeRestoredFor Wanchalearm for 12 minutes to mark the 12 months after which he was abducted. This is to demand justice and to call for an end to fear of enforced disappearances.


Piyanut Kotsan, Director of Amnesty International Thailand says that today marks the one-year anniversary of the enforced disappearance of Wanchalerm Satsaksit. No justice has been brought to him and his family. There is a clear failure of the Cambodian investigation to establish Wanchalearm’s fate and whereabouts and to act in compliance with its legal obligation to properly investigate the enforced disappearance.

Amnesty International thus calls for the Ministry of Justice to advocate for and pledge to revise the Draft Act on the Prevention and Suppression of Torture and Enforced Disappearance to ensure its compliance 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.

An effort should also be made to ensure concerned authorities, particularly the Office of Attorney General and the Department of Special Investigation to undertake a thorough investigation while respecting the right to justice of the victim and his family to bring to justice the perpetrators through a fair trial and to end the culture of impunity related to gross human rights violations including torture and enforced disappearances.


“Amnesty International calls for the Attorney-General to immediately launch a formal investigation with the Department of Special Investigation into the enforced disappearance of Wanchalearm Satsaksit under Section 20 of Thailand’s Criminal Procedural Code together with Section 3 and Section 20 of the Department of Special Investigation Act 2547. And in order to further safeguard the independence and credibility of the investigation, Amnesty International recommends that the investigation should closely involve the National Human Rights Commission of Thailand. 

“It is high time for the Thai authorities to step up and undertake a thorough, impartial and independent investigation into the enforced disappearance of their own citizen abroad since the past few years saw several enforced disappearances of Thai exiles from neighboring countries. A truly independent investigation free from government interference is desperately required.”


Amnesty International further reiterates its calls on the ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights (AICHR) to take a more active role in facilitating cooperation among different ASEAN countries to afford the greatest measure of mutual assistance for victims of enforced disappearance, as well as in searching for, locating and releasing forcibly disappeared persons in Southeast Asia.


“ASEAN and AICHR’s silence in the face of cross-border enforced disappearances in the region is shameful. This is regional cooperation at its absolute worst. Rampant impunity, injustice and human rights violations are facilitated by the regional body’s inaction. It is beyond time for ASEAN to take a principled stand on enforced disappearances.”  

According to the UN Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearance (WGEID), there are 87 victims of enforced disappearances in Thailand related to the crackdown on the May 1992 Uprising, conflicts in the Southern Border Provinces, the War on Drug from 2003-2015 and the forest reclamation policy during the NCPO military regime.