Thailand: Inquest leaves unanswered questions on activist’s death

Responding to the inquest finding that Chaiyaphum Pasae, a 17-year-old activist, was shot dead by security officers in March 2017, Katherine Gerson, Amnesty International’s Campaigner on Thailand, said:

“This finding tells us nothing we didn’t already know and leaves a host of unanswered questions about Chaiyaphum Pasae’s death.

“The central issue of why security forces resorted to the use of lethal force remains unresolved, and the inquest failed to ensure that the Thai army provided key evidence that could have answered this question. This includes the long-promised CCTV footage to corroborate the army’s claim that officers fired in self-defence.

“This unsatisfactory conclusion highlights the significant obstacles to ensuring accountability for the actions of the security forces. The authorities must ensure that, despite this inconclusive inquest, the investigation of this killing continues and is conducted in a way that is effective, independent and thorough.”

Background

The findings of the inquest will be submitted to the Public Prosecutor to determine whether or not charges should be filed.

On 17 March 2017, Chaiyaphum Pasae, a member of the Lahu Indigenous People and an activist on indigenous communities’ rights, was shot and killed at a checkpoint in Chiang Mai Province reportedly staffed by Thai security forces. 

The regional army commander had stated to the media shortly after his death that CCTV footage showed that they had shot in self-defence. After the CCTV footage was delivered on a disk drive to the police, police stated that no footage of the incident was available on the disk drive.

Under international law and standards, law enforcement officials may only use lethal force intentionally when strictly unavoidable to protect life.