Vietnamese fisher victims of Thai shootings entitled to sue for compensation: lawyer

Tuoi Tre News

Updated : 09/21/2015 16:09 GMT + 7

A fisherman points at the trace of a bullet shot left by Thai coast guard officers on his ship on September 11, 2015.
The family of the Vietnamese fisherman who was shot dead by the Thai coast guard force ten days ago can sue the attackers to demand compensation, a local lawyer has said.

Lawyer Ha Hai, from the Ho Chi Minh City Bar Association, offered the suggestion while referring to a Thai police boat – the ship Thai Police 528 – opening fire on six Vietnamese fishing ships while they were operating in the waters off the Mekong Delta province of Kien Giang on September 11.

The Vietnamese side said the incident occurred in the waters that border those of Malaysia whereas the Thais said it took place in their sea.

Hai asserted that he is willing to provide free consultancy on such a lawsuit for the relatives of the dead fisherman, Ngo Van Sinh, 38, as well as the two fishers injured in the attacks.

Sinh was the captain and steersman of the fishing boat KG-94059 TS, while one of the injured is Nguyen Hung Cuong, who is the captain and steersman of the fishing ship KG-94811 TS.

Cuong suffered injuries in his right thighbone and was taken to the Kien Giang General Hospital for treatment then.

Lawyer Hai said Vietnam and Thailand have disseminated different information on the location of the Vietnamese boats when they were attacked.

The Thais maintained that the location lies about 40km from their Narathiwat Province, which means it is well within Thailand’s waters.

Meanwhile, the Vietnam Fisheries Resources Surveillance Department underlined that the site is in the waters between Vietnam and Malaysia.

However, even if the Vietnamese boats had violated the Thai waters, the ship Thai Police 528 would not have been allowed to shoot at them, lawyer Hai underscored, citing Article 1 of the International Convention on Civil and Political Rights, to which Thailand is party.

“Every human being has the inherent right to life. This right shall be protected by law. No one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his life,” the lawyer cited the article as reading.

Therefore, the Thai ship’s shootings that killed a Vietnamese fisherman and injured two others, regardless of any reason, did violate this convention, the lawyer said.

The shootings also broke both the Thai fishing law and the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (Point i, Clause 2, Article 19) as under these laws, such shootings exceeded the allowable level, lawyer Hai said.

In addition, such shootings flouted Articles 290, 291 and 295 of the Thai Penal Code.

Therefore, the relatives of the dead victim and the two injured fishermen can take legal action against the attackers, demanding that Thai authorities punish the killers and pay compensation.

On the other hand, if the location of the incident is proven to be in the boundary waters of Vietnam and Malaysia, then the Thai ship encroached on the Vietnamese sea.

In this case, the shooting dead of the Vietnamese fisherman by the Thai ship would breach Article 104 of the Vietnamese Penal Code, and Vietnam’s competent agencies would have the right to prosecute the killers on charges of murder and property destruction.

The killers, in this case, would also be required to pay compensation pursuant to the local Civil Code, the lawyer said.

At a press briefing in Hanoi on Thursday, Vietnam’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman Le Hai Binh said the Vietnamese government had strongly demanded that Thailand investigate the assaults, handle those involved, and compensate for the human and property losses of the Vietnamese fishermen.

“In any circumstances, Vietnam vehemently condemns the inhuman treatment of Vietnamese fishermen by the threat or use of force,” Binh said.

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