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BREAKING: Protection of Angkhana, witness for lawyer Somchai’s disappearance, will not be extended!

#WhatsHappeningInThailand🚨 Protection of Angkhana Neelapaijit, witness for lawyer Somchai’s disappearance, will not be extended!

📌 On October 19, Ratchada Criminal Court ruled that witness protection for Angkhana Neelapaijit will not be extended. Ms. Angkhana is a Thai human rights defender and wife of Somchai Neelapaijit, who had gone missing after publicly accusing the police in the Deep South of torturing his clients in their custody.

✍️ Ms. Angkhana’s witness protection ended on April 1, 2022, as the Department of Special Investigation (DSI) claimed that the investigation on the abduction of Somchai had been suspended for a long period of time and had not been able to find the guilty party. Following the DSI’s decision, she filed an appeal to the Court of Justice to request that the DSI extend her protection.

👩‍⚖️ After several hearings, the termination of Ms. Angkhana’s witness protection was upheld by the Criminal Court. The Court cited the testimony of an officer who had been offering her security, stating that it cannot be demonstrated that the harassment she has endured over the years is related to Somchai's disappearance.

“The decision of the Ratchada Criminal Court not to extend my protection under the Witness Protection Act will affect other Women Human Rights Defenders on the ground,” said Angkhana Neelapaijit, former National Human Rights Commissioner. “It will definitely create more difficulties for them to access the witness protection.”

🏠 Since Somchai went missing 18 years ago, Ms. Angkhana has continuously sought justice for Somchai as well as other victims of enforced disappearance. As a result of her human rights work, she has been subjected to various forms of harassment, including online verbal harassment and physical threats. In April, only 11 days after her protection ended, a woman threw a 9-inch long scissor into her home, damaging her car and front gate.

#WeAreManushyan ♾️ Equal Human Beings

✊ Manushya Foundation condemns all forms of harassment against human rights defenders and stands in solidarity with them. We demand that relevant authorities respect the right to witness protection granted under the 2003 Witness Protection Act to ensure that human rights defenders, especially women, are able to carry out their work safely.

✊ Human rights defenders are critical, constructive, and essential to democracies and the functioning of the rule of law. We urge the Thai authorities to ensure that harassment and threats against human rights defenders stop and for all international legal guarantees to be respected.

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