For immediate release on 13 December 2018
Thailand must be held accountable for forcibly returning Rath Rott Mony to Cambodia as he risks facing persecution
On 12 December 2018, the Cross Cultural Foundation (CrCF) has learnt from a lawyer who had been giving legal assistance to Mr. Rath Rott Mony, an asylum seeker and a labor and human right activist from Cambodia that the Thai Immigration Office had returned Mr. Rath Rott Mony to the custody of Cambodia since around noon time of 12 December 2018. The news has been confirmed by an international organization that Mr. Rath has already arrived in Cambodia around 16.30. As his whereabouts are unknown, since both the Thai and Cambodian authorities have refused to disclose information about the place Rath Rott Mony had been held in custody, it is likely that he may be subject to torture or persecution by the Cambodian authorities.
The return of Rath Rott Mony has not been conducted in compliance with the Extradition Act, B.E. 2551 which requires the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Office of Attorney General to plead to the Court to trigger an extradition process. Instead, the Immigration officials simply claimed he had been wanted by a warrant issued by a foreign authority and thereby could not allowed to enter Thailand and had to be deported. This happened, even though Mr. Rath had entered the Kingdom and had been staying legally in Thailand for a while.
Upon his arrest on 11 December 2018, a lawyer who wanted to help him has submitted a letter to the Immigration Office asking for a visit to him while being detained at the Suan Plu Immigration Detention Center, but the request was denied.
CrCF finds a forcible return of a person who is likely to face torture, enforced disappearance and an unfair trial including the case of Rath Rott Mony is a deportation that fails to comply with procedure per the extradition law. Apart from violating domestic Thai law, it may also violate international customary law which prohibits returning a person if there is a reasonable fear that the person may face danger or persecution (non-refoulment) and may violate Thailand’s obligation to the UN Convention Against Torture to which Thailand has been a state party since 2007.
“The return of Mr. Rath Rott Mony is a mistake in political decision making and can taint the image of Thailand. The Thai government is urged to inquire about the detention of Mr. Rath Rott Mony and seek assurance from its Cambodia counterparts that Mr. Rath Rott Mony is still safe and has the right to fair trial as well as his whereabouts must be disclosed.”
“In addition, CrCF has submitted to the Thai government and concerned authorities a letter requesting for an investigation and explanation to the public and international community regarding the return of Mr. Rath Rott Mony to the custody of Cambodian authorities. This is to verify whether or not the return has been conducted in compliance with the Thai law and international law or not and which officials have been responsible for making such return possible” said CrCF’s Advisor, Mr. Somchai Homlaor.
Mr. Rath Rott Mony is president of the Cambodian Construction Workers Trade Union Federation (CCTUF) which is an international network and he also works as interpreter and fixer for foreign media. He has played a role in the production of a documentary by a foreign news outlet about human trafficking in Cambodia. By doing so, it was later reported that the Cambodian authorities have accused him of causing division in the country. Mr. Rath has entered Thailand on 31 October 2018 using his passport and obtaining valid visas. Prior to this, around November 2018, due to pressure being heaped upon labor activists in Cambodia, Mr. Rath Rott Mony has decided to apply for asylum in November. His application for international protection is pending the review of the UNHCR.
Upon learning that an asylum seeker who had applied asylum from them has been arrested on 11 December 2018, the UHCHR has interviewed and talked with Mr. Rath Rott Mony at his holding cell at the Suan Plu Immigration Detention Center. It indicates that Mr. Rath Rott Mony was still under the protection of UNHCR. On 12 December, the same day Mr. Rath was, however, deported via a helicopter, as a UNHCR official has requested for a visit to him and only learned that he had already been deported.
For more information, please contact Ms. Pornpen Khongkachonkiet, CrCF’s Director, phone 02-1015481