THE UNITED Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein yesterday urged the Thai government to take decisive and sustained efforts to investigate the whereabouts of at least 82 people listed as disappeared, including prominent Muslim lawyer Somchai Neelapaijit who went missing in 2004.
In December, the Supreme Court acquitted five police officers accused of involvement in the abduction and disappearance of Somchai.
Human rights commissioner Hussein also called on the government to criminalise enforced disappearance through legislation, in line with international standards. Thailand has no specific law on forced disappearance.
"All 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," the High Commissioner said.
Hussein also called on the government to introduce legislation making enforced or involuntary disappearance a criminal offence.
"There is a lack of adequate legal and institutional framework for the victims and their families to seek justice in enforced disappearance cases in Thailand," he said.
"I urge the Thai authorities to immediately ratify the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance."
Since 1980, the United Nations Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances has recorded 82 cases of enforced disappearances in Thailand.
Hussein said that despite pledges by Thai authorities to address human rights violations, the issue of enforced disappearances in which state officials have been implicated remains a serious concern.
The High Commissioner also expressed his concern about another more recent case, involving Pholachi Rakchongcharoen, a Karen human rights activist also known as "Billy", who disappeared in April 2014.
"The Thai authorities have a responsibility to ensure victims get all the help they need in finding their loved ones, to ensure the fair prosecution and punishment of perpetrators, and to commit to stamping out the deplorable act of enforced disappearances," Hussein said.