AHRC questions Chiranuch verdict

31 05 2012

The Asian Human Rights Commission has issued a long and detailed appeal and statement on the sentencing of  Chiranuch Premchaiporn yesterday. It is complicated and worth studying in full. It begins:

On 30 May 2012, the Criminal Court read its verdict in the case in Black Case No. 1667/2553, in which Chiranuch Premchaiporn was charged with ten alleged violations of the 2007 Computer Crimes Act (CCA). Chiranuch is the 44-year-old webmaster of Prachatai, an independent online news site, which has served as an important platform for critical news, discussion, and debate for over seven years in Thailand. The charges against her in this case stemmed from her alleged failure to remove comments deemed offensive to the monarchy from the Prachatai webboard quickly enough. The Court found Chiranuch guilty for one out of the ten charges, and she was sentenced to one year in prison and a 30,000 baht fine. Resulting from her cooperation with the Court and the fact that this was her first offence, this was immediately reduced to a suspended sentence of eight months and a 20,000 baht fine.

The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) welcomes the news that Chiranuch will remain outside prison and be able to continue her and Prachatai’s ground-breaking work expanding and sustaining the space for freedom of expression in Thailand. Yet we are gravely dismayed at the broader threat to freedom of expression and human rights represented by the return of a guilty verdict in this case.

AHRC calls on the Thai government to “explain this decision, and the logic supplied for it, with its obligations under Article 19 of the ICCPR [International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights].”


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