The Office of the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) will investigate the impact on marine ecology of July's oil spill off the coast of Rayong.
Jaturat: Effects on fishermen severe
The NHRC says it believes this is the most efficient way to offer justice to affected local people.
Prasart Meetham, a member of the NHRC Office, said the probe panel will focus on the impact on local fishermen from the PTT Global Chemical (PTTGC) Plc oil spill. "We have received complaints from local fishermen who said that after the oil spill, they no longer catch enough fish. As the human rights office, we need to find out why this is happening," he said.
The right of local fishermen to feed their families is protected by the constitution, he added.
NHRC yesterday invited locals, researchers, activists and state agencies to discuss the impact of the oil spill. PTTGC was not invited to take part in the meeting.
Wichoksak Ronnarongpairee, an NHRC sub-committee member, said the investigation report will serve as evidence for the victims if they want to file a complaint with the court.
Alternatively, the NHRC might take the issue to court itself.
The panel will comprise NHRC members, state-owned agencies, non-governmental organisations and researchers.
Jaturat Eiamworaniran, chairman of a fishermen's network in Rayong, said the repercussions on local fishermen have been severe.
Fewer marine animals have been caught and fishermen are concerned that the absence of fish will continue indefinitely.
"PTTGC claimed only 20% of the oil spill hit Ao Phrao beach, but what about the rest, and the impact of the oil dispersant chemical which was used?
"It has done real damage to 36km of the Rayong coastline," he said.
He added that locals are not happy with the company's compensation offer. The company agreed to make a one-time payment of 30,000 baht. If the locals want more compensation, they will need to go to court.
Somlak Hutanuwatr, a coordinator of the Social Venture Network, suggested the NHRC should investigate whether PTTGC was adequately prepared to respond to the crisis.
She said the NHRC report will be important for the locals as they can use it to get better and fairer compensation.