Monday, May 20, 2019

Malaysia violated the principle of non-refoulment?

Shameful that Malaysia violated the principle of non-refoulment? Is this the new PH government that we chose? They should be protecting and promoting human rights - but alas after one comes into power, they sometimes do change ...

UNJUST when Malaysia arrests and send back to Thailand a UNHCR recognised asylum seeker?

Where the Members of Parliament who are for human rights and justice? Why are they not speaking up? Have they been compromised by 'power' or 'fear'? There is nothing wrong for MPs, especially not in the Cabinet, to speak up against government wrongdoings - remember, it is their role as 'Backbenchers' to play the important role of check and balance...Stand up...speak out without fear or favour even if you are alone...

Press Release

The Malaysian Government Must Uphold the Customary International Law of Non-Refoulement

The Malaysian Bar is deeply concerned with the Malaysian Government’s action in deporting Praphan Pipithnamporn, an asylum seeker registered by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (“UNHCR”) in Kuala Lumpur, to Thailand on 10 May 2019, reportedly upon the request of the Government of Thailand.

According to media reports, Praphan Pipithnamporn, a Thai national, is a member of the Organization for Thai Federation, a peaceful anti-monarchy group.  She had been arrested many times between September and December 2018 by the Thai authorities, and an arrest warrant was issued in January 2019 for her participation in an anti-monarchy activity during the birthday memorial for the late King Rama IX on 5 December 2018.

She arrived in Malaysia in January 2019, and subsequently applied for asylum at UNHCR in Kuala Lumpur.  On 2 April 2019, UNHCR registered her claim as an asylum seeker and designated her as a “person of concern”.  As such, she should rightfully be protected under the fundamental principle of international law known as non-refoulement.

It is disheartening and troubling that the Malaysian Government violated international law, and abdicated its legal and moral obligation not to deport individuals to situations where their very lives may be in serious jeopardy.

Although Thailand and Malaysia have signed a treaty on mutual legal assistance in criminal matters, under Section 8 of our Extradition Act 1992 there are prohibitions against extradition in certain circumstances, including:

(1) if the offence in respect of which [an individual’s] return is sought is of a political character or he proves to the Minister that the warrant for his return has in fact been made with a view to try or punish him for an offence of a political character;

(2) if the request for his surrender although purporting to be made for an extradition offence was in fact made for the purpose of prosecuting or punishing the person on account of his race, religion, nationality or political opinions; or

(3) if he might be prejudiced at his trial or punished or imprisoned by reason of his race, religion, nationality or political opinions.

The Malaysian Bar cautions the Malaysian Government not to dismiss due consideration of these provisions.  

The Malaysian Bar calls on the Malaysian Government, as a responsible member of the international community, to honour, respect and uphold the rules and customs of international law — including the principle of non-refoulement — as well as the provisions of Malaysian law.

Abdul Fareed Abdul Gafoor
Malaysian Bar

17 May 2019

Rights groups: Three Thais activists accused of insulting king have disappeared

Thailand's deputy prime minister Prawit Wongsuwan denied the three activists were in Thai custody. — Reuters pic
Thailand's deputy prime minister Prawit Wongsuwan denied the three activists were in Thai custody. — Reuters pic
BANGKOK, May 10 ― Three Thai activists facing charges of insulting the monarchy have disappeared after reportedly being arrested in Vietnam, rights groups said today, months after two exiled critics of the military and monarchy turned up dead.

Thailand's deputy prime minister, Prawit Wongsuwan, denied the three activists were in Thai custody, as has been reported by the Thai Alliance for Human Rights.
Chucheep Chiwasut, who broadcasts political commentary to Thailand from exile, and fellow activists Siam Theerawut and Kritsana Thapthai were reportedly turned over to Thai authorities by Vietnam on May 8, Human Rights Watch said in a statement.

“Vietnam's alleged secret forced return to Thailand of three prominent activists should set off alarm bells in the international community,” Human Rights Watch Asia Director Brad Adams said.

London-based Amnesty International said Chucheep had long faced charges of lese-majeste, or insulting the monarchy.

Siam and Kritsana were also under police investigation for lese majeste, the rights group said.

Article 112 of Thailand's criminal code says anyone who insults the king, queen, heir or regent faces punishment of up to 15 years in prison.

The US-based Thai Alliance for Human Rights first reported that Chucheep, also known as Uncle Sanam Luang, had been sent back to Thailand.

“Uncle Sanam Luang and two others were apprehended ... a month ago. But they were just transferred to Thailand on May 8 from Vietnam,” the alliance's Piangdin Rakthai said in a YouTube video.

Deputy Prime Minister Prawit denied the report.

“Vietnam has not coordinated transfers. We have not received any request. If there is, it would be through the foreign ministry and police,” Prawit told reporters.

Human rights groups have accused the ruling military of applying the lese majeste law more widely since a 2014 military coup as a way to silence critics.

In January, the bodies of two exiled critics of the military and royal family, Chatcharn Buppawan, 56, and Kraidej Luelert, 46, were along the Mekong River border with Laos.

Their bodies had been stuffed with concrete, apparently to make them sink.

The military said at the time it had no information about the bodies.

Activist Surachai Danwattananusorn, 78, who operated an online radio station critical of the junta and monarchy from Laos, disappeared in December. His whereabouts are not known.

“We are worried about the situation,” Piangdin said in his video.

“There have been disappearances and deaths of political activists who are against the military government and criticise the monarchy.” ― Reuters - Malay Mail, 10/5/2019

Rights group fears Thai activists have been 'disappeared'
Vietnam reported to have handed over three dissidents who fled Laos after other activists were abducted and found dead 
Rights group fears Thai activists have been 'disappeared'
A visitor looks at a portrait of missing Thai activist Surachai Danwattananusorn during a human rights forum at the Netherlands embassy in Bangkok on March 12. Surachai, a prominent critic of Thailand's monarchy and the junta, went missing in December 2018 with two aides. Surachai's whereabouts are still unknown, while the battered bodies of his two aides were washed ashore in the Mekong River on the Thai-Laos border. (Photo by Lillian Suwanrumpha/AFP) reporter, Bangkok 
May 10, 2019
Human Rights Watch (HRW) has called on the Thai government to reveal the whereabouts of three activists who were reportedly extradited from Vietnam to Bangkok. 
Thai authorities have not acknowledged their arrest and detention, raising grave concerns that they have become victims of enforced disappearance, the New York-based rights group said on May 9. 
Vietnamese authorities reportedly arrested Chucheep Chivasut, Siam Theerawut and Kritsana Thapthai early this year for illegal entry and using fake travel documents. Vietnam handed them over to Thai authorities on May 8, according to media reports. Thai authorities have accused the three men of breaking Thailand’s strict lese majeste laws by insulting the monarchy, including by broadcasting online anti-monarchy radio programs and mobilizing supporters of Chucheep’s Organization for Thai Federation to hold demonstrations against the monarchy by wearing black T-shirts in Bangkok and other provinces.
HRW Asia director Brad Adams has called on the Thai government to immediately disclose the whereabouts of the activists and to permit their family members and lawyers to see them. “Only by publicly affirming that these three activists are in detention and in contact with their relatives and legal counsel will the authorities put to rest the fear that these men have been forcibly disappeared,” he said. Since the May 2014 coup, 
Thai authorities have aggressively pursued Chucheep and other anti-monarchy activists who have operated from neighboring countries. Deputy Prime Minister Prawit Wongsuwan announced in September 2018 that the Organization for Thai Federation is an outlawed group and threatened to arrest everyone involved with it. 
Chucheep and his two colleagues moved from Laos to Vietnam after activists Surachai Danwattananusorn, Kraidej Luelert and Chatchan Buphawan were abducted by unknown people in Laos in December. The battered and disemboweled bodies of Kraidej and Chatchan were later found in the Mekong River. Unconfirmed reports said a third body was found at the same time but then lost again. Surachai’s fate is unknown. 
Anti-monarchist activists Itthipol Sukpaen and Wuthipong Kachathamakul were abducted in Laos in June 2016 and July 2017 respectively. 
Enforced disappearances are defined under international law as the arrest or detention of a person by state officials or their agents followed by a refusal to acknowledge the deprivation of liberty or to reveal the person’s fate or whereabouts. 
Enforced disappearances violate a range of fundamental human rights protected under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which Thailand has ratified. “Vietnam’s alleged secret forced return to Thailand of three prominent activists should set off alarm bells in the international community,” 
Adams said. “United Nations agencies and concerned governments should press the Thai government to immediately reveal where Chucheep and his two colleagues are being held and allow others to visit them.” - UCA News, 10/5/2019

Asia Pacific

15 years after activists' disappearance in Bangkok, family of missing Thai lawyer still 'waiting for justice'

The wife of a lawyer who vanished after being snatched off the streets of Bangkok 15 years ago urged Thailand on Tuesday to toughen laws to end impunity of officials accused of carrying out enforced disappearances.

Rights groups say 30 human rights activists have disappeared or been murdered in Thailand since 2001.

While local officials have been accused of being involved in some cases, they are rarely held accountable in a country where the police and courts are warped by power and influence.

A draft law on preventing enforced disappearances is currently in parliament.

But the bill must be toughened up as it currently is focused “on protecting government officials,” said Angkhana Neelapaijit of Thailand’s National Human Rights Commission.

“The state must stand with the victims.”

Angkhana is the wife of prominent Muslim human rights lawyer Somchai, who disappeared on this day 15 years ago when he was bundled into a car off the streets of Bangkok, according to eyewitnesses.

Well-known for representing clients accused of insurgency-related violence in Thailand’s deep south, Somchai’s abduction came while he was defending suspected Islamic militants who had accused authorities of torturing them while in custody.

Five police officers — one of whom was briefly jailed — were eventually acquitted in Thailand’s Supreme Court, a verdict that is a stain on the country’s law enforcement record.

“Bringing perpetrators to justice … cannot be ignored, no matter the level of the government official,” Angkhana said during a memorial event at the Netherlands Embassy in Bangkok.

“The families of the disappeared — including myself — are still waiting for justice.”

The event Tuesday was attended by family members of other missing activists around the region, including Shui-Meng Ng, whose husband, environmental campaigner Sombath Somphone, went missing in 2012 in Laos.

Speaking to a sombre crowd, Shui-Meng urged the Thai government to give closure to Somchai’s family, saying she “stands in unity with your pain … with your anger and indignity.”

Somchai’s unsolved case is one of at least 82 cases of enforced disappearances in Thailand since 1980 recorded by the United Nations. - Japan Times, 12/3/2019

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