Optimism on LM is not justified when human rights are not protected

27 02 2011

We at PPT are not at all sure that the recent events associated with the cases of Darunee Charnchoensilpakul and Chiranuch Premchaiporn are cause for the optimism on lese majeste suggested in Simon Roughneen’s article at the South China Morning Post. After all, Chiranuch’s trial continues on crazy and entirely political charges and despite a mistrial ruling in Darunee’s case, she continues to be denied bail and remains a political prisoner.

In addition, the justice minister has stated that there are a further 17 lese majeste cases under investigation with another 3 cases put to the police in recent days. PPT thinks that there are at least 44 cases in various stages of investigation, some of which have been dormant for a long time. However, these can be re-activated at any time. For example, cases from early 2008 are expected to be re-activated by prosecutors this coming week.

Roughneen’s optimism seems only supported by Amnesty International’s representative in Thailand, Benjamin Zawacki. He is reported to have “welcomed the Daranee mistrial ruling” somehow deciding that it is “a positive sign of the judiciary’s impartiality and independence and the rule of law.”

This is a pretty reasonable summary of Zawacki’s weak position and that adopted by Amnesty International in Thailand. If little else is clear on political prisoners and prisoners of conscience in Thailand for Zawacki and AI, they should have at least understood that a process of judicialization has occurred and that judicial procedures have been highly politicized.

Why Zawacki would consider it otherwise is open to speculation. However, it is clear to PPT that Zawacki and AI have generally abrogated their responsibilities since at least the coup of 2006.

At least Zawacki added: “The lese-majeste law itself runs counter to Thailand’s freedom of expression obligations under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.” This is one of the few times that he has made such a comment on the lese majeste law. It was back in January that AI stated that one of its three concerns in Thailand was “security-related laws like the emergency decree, the computer-related crime law and the lese majeste law.”

AI has a longer history in Thailand of effectively supporting the monarchy through”understanding” the need for  lese majeste repression and even issued a comment praising Abhisit for establishing a committee that has been used to process and expand the impact of lese majeste repression: “Amnesty International supports the prime minister’s new initiative, and encourages the Royal Thai government to amend the lese majeste law so that it complies with international law and standards…”. The latter might be seen as being in line with Zawacki’s current position, meaning that AI wants a revision of the law rather than its abolition.

[We’d add that on the use of lethal force in April and May 2010, it was AI USA that broke ranks with AI’s head office and AI in Thailand to issue a condemnation. It was soon brought back into line.]

As far as PPT can ascertain, AI’s position on human rights in Thailand is anomalous for the organization as a whole. In practice, AI’s position amounts to little more than a fudge that effectively allows for continued state impunity on human rights abuses in Thailand.


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27 02 2011
World Spinner

Optimism on LM is not justified when human rights are not ……

Here at World Spinner we are debating the same thing……

1 03 2011
More lese majeste arrests planned | Political Prisoners in Thailand

[…] A few days ago PPT stated: […]