On 15 July 2020, Sitanan Satsaksit was informed by the UN Committee on Enforced Disappearances (CED) about responses from the Cambodian government regarding the disappearance of her brother Wanchalerm Satsaksit, a Thai political dissident who had been in exile in Cambodia.

By checking the record of Wanchalerm’s travel in and out of Cambodia which happened several times during 2014-2015, the Cambodian government found that his last entry was on 19 October 2015 and he was given a visa extension for temporary stay in Cambodia until 31 December 2017. After that, Cambodia has never received a request for a visa extension from Wanchalerm ever again.

And the concerned Cambodian authorities have neither knowledge nor any lead on the alleged abduction of Wanchalerm other than what has been reported in the media. Cambodia tells the UN Committee that it is currently further investigating the case.

 

Sitanan noted that the Cambodian government’s letter to the United Nations Committee had the same content as that of the letter which the Thai Ministry of Foreign Affairs sent to her family on 16 June 2020, and was prepared before the family made an official complaint to Cambodia. This response to the abduction or enforced disappearance of Wanchalerm cannot therefore be considered a progress in the investigation in full capacity to ascertain the fate of Wanchalerm. She hopes that the Cambodian government will employ the justice mechanisms in the country to speed up the investigation because the family filed a complaint with the Prosecutor Attached to the Phnom Penh Municipal Court of the Court of First Instance and the Ministry of Justice on 8 July 2020. The family also submitted a petition to the Ministry of Interior on 3 July 2020.

 

The response of the Cambodian government came after the Committee on Enforced Disappearances (CED) had received a complaint about the enforced disappearance of Wanchalerm Satsaksit, who was in exile in Cambodia, and the committee had sent an urgent letter to the Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Cambodia to the United Nations Office in Geneva, asking Cambodia, a country that has ratified the International Convention for the Protection of all Persons from Enforced Disappearance, to urgently make an investigation and report directly to the committee by 24 June 2020. The Cambodian government responded to the committee on 19 June 2020.

 

Wanchalerm Satsaksit, 37, was originally from Ubon Ratchathani province in Northeastern Thailand. Previously he worked with NGOs on HIV/AIDS and LGBT issues. He went in exile after the 2014 coup as he refused to report to the junta as per NCPO Order No. 44/2557. He was later accused of being an administrator of a Facebook page entitled, “I will surely get 100 million from Thaksin,” which features political satire and criticisms toward the NCPO.

 

It has been reported that Wanchalerm has also been issued an arrest warrant for offenses under Section 112 of the Criminal Code, or ‘Lese Majeste’ law. But Maj. Gen. Burin Thongpraphai, Director of the Office of the Judge Advocate of the Royal Thai Army, who was formerly in charge of legal affairs of the NCPO, confirmed to the media on 8 June 2020 that the NCPO had not filed a complaint against Wanchalerm for such offense.

 

The Committee on Enforced Disappearances (CED) is the body of independent experts which monitors implementation of the United Nations International Convention for the Protection of all Persons from Enforced Disappearance.

 

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