Tag Archives: Somchai Neelaphaijit

Another troublemaker missing in Thailand

The authorities in Khon Kaen probably did not like Kamol Laosophaphant. His campaign to expose corrupt council dealings over state railway land, among other things, reportedly had a group of police ready to beat him up just last year.

The 49-year-old delivery contractor told his family that he was worried for his safety. In January he took out a life insurance policy but did not let up his fight against the neighborhood “people with influence.”

Kamol, as it happened, had cause for concern. On Feb. 7 he went to the Baan Phai station to lodge one of a dozen criminal complaints that he was preparing against local officials. He never came back to his house only a few hundred meters away.

Kamol’s wife (pictured above holding his photo) and brothers say that the family had contact with him until around 11pm. His wife missed a call from his phone shortly after. Then the line went dead.

They lodged a complaint with the station the next morning, but it was not taken seriously. The day after that, they made another to the Crime Suppression Division. Yet although his car mysteriously turned up outside a hospital some 20 kilometers to the north a few weeks later, four months on they still don’t know where he went. Continue reading


Consistently counter-productive


Extracts from a new report: Human Rights under Attack, by the Working Group on Justice for Peace, Thailand

One policy that has been consistently counter-productive is the government’s reliance on poorly trained, ill-disciplined para-military forces and civilian militias. Although they have a long-standing history in Thailand, since 2004 their strength in the South has been increased massively. There is a confusing multiplicity of groups – the paramilitary rangers, an interior ministry force known as the Volunteer Defence Corps, several loosely supervised village volunteer forces and an unknown number of smaller sectarian militias – added to the regular army, police and border patrol police. The largest armed force in the South is a civilian militia consisting of Village Defence Volunteers recruited under the Internal Security Operations Command and the Village Protection Force recruited under Queen Sirikit’s direction tasked with protecting Buddhist communities. Continue reading

March 12, 2004


It has been four years since Somchai Neelaphaijit disappeared; four long years of heartbreak for his family, four years of unanswered questions.

Somchai did not disappear by accident, but by force. Yet despite wide publicity and persistent efforts to hold the culprits to account, Thailand’s criminal justice system has utterly failed a person who in life had not failed it.

Somchai was a lawyer with a keen sense of justice, and a good one at that. He took on cases that others wouldn’t touch, cases that didn’t earn him any friends in high places. He successfully defended accused terrorists and separatists. He set up a free legal aid service and received a national award in acknowledgement of his work.

Prior to disappearing, Somchai met with five young men in police custody who said that they had been tortured. According to letters that he prepared on their behalf, they had been kicked, electrocuted and urinated upon. One had been hanged from the hook of a toilet door and hit on the head with a lump of wood.

On March 11, 2004 Somchai publicly accused the police of torture and said that he would take the case to the highest levels. Coming from him, this was no idle warning. Someone took it seriously. Continue reading

Police to stand between themselves & their targets


Under a visionary new scheme, victims of police torture and the families of persons killed and abducted by police in Thailand are also to get protection from… yes, other police! They include Angkhana Neelaphaijit (above), wife of abducted human rights lawyer Somchai Neelaphaijit, who has said that she would rather fend for herself. Continue reading

A policy of not solving human rights cases


In recent weeks Thailand’s media has attentively reported on the arrest of some paramilitary police who are alleged to have abducted and framed tens, perhaps hundreds, of people.

The Border Patrol Police officers set up most of their victims on charges under which the accused could not get bail. Some they released after receiving ransom. One of these, a middle-aged woman, in January set off the alarm after she, her son and two others had been freed. Since then, over 60 more have complained to the Rights and Liberties Protection Department. At least 180 inmates have reportedly sought for their files to be reopened.

Victims have described how they were held in groups and tortured. According to one, she and her partner [above] were taken to a bungalow where they saw at least twenty more people tied up, some hooded; a few with smashed teeth and bruised faces. Another has claimed that she was electrocuted while pregnant, despite pleading for her baby. She gave birth in remand, awaiting a trial in which she was acquitted of any crime.

A few years ago, a case like this would have been accompanied by loud calls for it to be moved outside of the police force and into the hands of the Department of Special Investigation. But such calls have been noticeably absent this time around. Continue reading

Thanks to DSI, no justice for Phra Supoj


“You can conclude that it was a mistake for us to have the [Department of Special Investigation] take over this case. Just like the case of Somchai Neelaphaijit, or the murder of Charoen Wat-Aksorn. None of these cases has made any progress. It is a failure of the agencies and the personnel working on these cases.”

(“อาจจะสรุปได้ว่า เป็นความผิดพลาดที่เราให้ ดีเอสไอ มารับคดีนี้ เช่นเดียวกับ คดีของทนายสมชาย นีละไพจิตร หรือกรณีคดีการฆ่าคุณเจริญ วัดอักษร ซึ่งทุกคดีล้วนไม่มีความคืบหน้า เป็นความล้มเหลวของหน่วยงาน และบุคลากรที่ทำอยู่”)

– Phra Kittisak Kittisophano on the unsolved murder of fellow monk Phra Supoj Suwajo

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Protest a more serious crime in Thailand than killing


Hundreds of people blockaded the National Assembly in Bangkok on Dec. 12, where the unelected legislature, consisting largely of serving and former military officers and bureaucrats, was set to pass a flurry of highly regressive bills before stepping down next year. The protestors called on them to wait for an elected government so the proposed laws could be debated.

Afterwards, police officers said they would consider prosecuting people who climbed the building’s fences and went inside. They accused some of kicking and punching government officials and said that they could be charged with trespass, coercion, upsetting the peace, confinement and damaging public property, among other things.

This sounds familiar. The same bundle of offences is pulled out every time demonstrators and police collide in Thailand.

Continue reading