Authorities in Thailand urged to probe killings of human rights defenders

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An experimental palm oil project in Surat Thani, Thailand assisted by United Nations Development Programme. (file photo) Credit: UN Photo/M Wild

Authorities in Thailand have been urged by the UN to investigate cases of killings and disappearances of human rights defenders in the south-east Asian country.

The appeal follows the latest killings of two activists working on land and natural resources issues in the south of the country.

One of the activists Pitan Thongpanang was the lead plaintiff in an ongoing case in which a court has ordered a company to temporarily halt its mining operations on his community's land in Nonpitam district.

Rupert Colville, the Spokesperson for the UN Human Rights Office in Geneva, says Mr Thongpanang was shot nine times on 30 November.

"The shooting occurred as he was visiting villagers to seek their financial support to engage legal assistance in the case. Four days later, on 3 December, Sumsuk Kokrang was fatally shot at a palm oil plantation in Krabi province, while he was travelling to meet with local villagers. Mr. Sumsuk, a land rights activist, was leading a campaign to investigate the legality of that particular palm oil plantation." (23")

The UN human rights office says that at least 30 human rights defenders have been victims of extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances in Thailand since 2001.

Daniel Dickinson, United Nations

Duration: 1'23"


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