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Thailand responds to CPJ about recent attacks on the press

Thailand's Washington-based embassy issued an official reply to CPJ's June 7 letter addressed to Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva in which we expressed our concerns about the country's deteriorating security situation for journalists. CPJ's letter highlighted in particular our concerns about two journalists—Reuters cameraman Hiro Muramoto and freelance photographer Fabio Polenghi—who were killed while covering recent clashes between anti-government protestors and security forces.

Deputy Chief of Mission Sek Wannamethee emphasized that several different investigations are now under way into the deadly violence, in which an estimated 89 people were killed and more than 1,800 injured, according to international news reports. While Sek's reply reflected a sophisticated understanding of Thailand's obligations under international law, CPJ is concerned that the government-appointed investigatory committee, led by former Attorney General Khanit na Nakhon, will not prioritize bringing the perpetrators of the recent violence to justice.

Khanit was quoted in the local press on June 12 saying that “there will be no pointing fingers in the [committee's] work plan” and that “placing blame was less important then promoting forgiveness.” CPJ notes that past government-appointed committees tasked with investigating alleged state-sponsored rights abuses in Thailand have consistently failed to result in prosecutions.

We are concerned that record of inaction may have influenced Sek's decision not to respond to our letter's request that the government release closed-circuit television footage in its possession of the area where journalist Muramoto was shot and killed on April 10. We reiterate here our request that the government make that footage and any other relevant information in the recent deaths and injuries of journalists available to investigators, diplomats, and journalists. 

Read a PDF of the Thai Embassy's letter here.

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Comments

As a Bangkokian and someone who follows the news about the political crisis in Thailand quite closely, I'm quite wonder why you asked about the closed-circuit television footage. It were reported in many places that the closed-circuit televisions in the Rajdumnern area were covered up, turned upward or destroyed, so that they couldn't function. The same things also happened in the Rajprosong area. For some cases, it was the protesters who covered up the CCTVs. The evidences of what actually happened have to rely heavily on the photos and footage from the reporters and other people who were there during the incidents.

Ananlada Chotimongkol June 19, 2010 10:55:01 AM ET