The two-year-long investigation into a Karen activist’s disappearance has made no progress. As Thailand has no laws to deal with enforced disappearance, a group of ethnic Karen villagers has filed a lawsuit against the alleged perpetrators for unlawfully detaining the activist.
On Sunday, 17 April 2016, at Kaeng Krachan District Police Station, Phetchaburi Province, Kriangkrai Cheechuang and other villagers from the Karen Network for Culture and Environment filed a complaint against Chaiwat Limlikitaksorn, a suspect in the enforced disappearance of Porlajee Rakchongcharoen, aka Billy, a Karen human rights and community rights activist.
Chaiwat is a former Superintendent of Kaeng Krachan National Park in western Phetchaburi Province. He and his four colleagues were alleged to be involved in the disappearance of Polarjee.
According to the police report
, Chaiwat and his four colleagues are accused of unlawful detention under Articles 309 and 310 of the Criminal Code, a minor crime punishable by up to three years in jail.
Article 309 states that whoever compels another person to do or not to do any act, or to suffer anything by putting him in fear of injury to life, body, liberty, reputation or property of himself or another person, or commits violence so that he does or does not do such act, or suffers such thing, shall be punished with imprisonment not exceeding three years or a fine not exceeding six thousand baht, or both.
Article 310 states that whoever detains or confines another person, or by any other means whatever deprives such person of the liberty of person, shall be punished with imprisonment not exceeding three years or a fine not exceeding six thousand baht, or both.
In a related development, on Sunday morning, Karen villagers of Pong Luk Bang Kloy Village hosted a religious ceremony commemorating the two years since Porlajee’s disappearance, Khaosod reported
According to Khaosod, Pinnapha Phrueksapan, Porlajee’s wife, said in the ceremony that she has repeatedly filed petitions to urge various agencies to move forward the legal process of Porlajee’s case.
“I and my five children are waiting and hoping to see justice in this case. We want to see those who caught Billy brought to justice. If there is any other way to call for justice for my husband, I will do it” said Pinnapha.
Porlajee disappeared on 17 April 2014 after assisting Karen villagers of Pong Luk Bang Kloy to file a lawsuit against Chaiwat in the Administrative Court for allegedly ordering the eviction of Karen villagers and burning Karen homes in May 2011.
Shortly after Porlajee’s disappearance, Pinnapha requested the court to hold an emergency trial under Article 90 of the Criminal Procedure Code to investigate his alleged unlawful detention. However, the Court of First Instance later ruled that evidence of the unlawful detention of Billy was insufficient.
Investigation officers of the Royal Thai Police Region 7 in early 2015 also filed charges under Article 157 of the Criminal Code (malfeasance in office) against Chaiwat and four other park officers for the alleged unlawful detention of Billy.
The case is also under investigation by the Department of Special Investigation (DSI) and the National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC). However, no progress has been made on the case since last year.