Thai Lawyers for Human Rights

17 01 2016

Readers will be interested in a report at The Diplomat a couple of days ago, discussing the group Thai Lawyers for Human Rights, which is penned by Shawn Crispin. The group is important because it operates “on the precarious front lines of challenging the legality of the ruling royalist junta’s clampdown [he means political repression], including charges leveled and abuses committed in the name of protecting the crown.”

Crispin states that “TLHR now represents 27 suspects accused of lese majeste, approximately half the number of cases lodged since coup-maker Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-o-cha took power.” That work is to be applauded, even if the the number of cases under-estimates. PPT’s count is about 100 cases of convictions, charges and investigations under Article 112 since the junta came to power.

The author observes that:

His regime and its ultra-royalist backers have ramped up anti-royal charges ahead of an uncertain royal succession, a wave of repression many fear will extend beyond the crowning of the next king. While accusations have generally targeted anti-royal sentiment, including over social media, they are also being leveled to stifle anti-junta dissent and expose alleged corrupt practices among aides and officials in heir apparent Crown Prince Vajiralongkorn’s camp.

At the same time, an “uncertain royal succession” is an unfortunate way to describe a regime that is repressive for a range of reasons that have little to do with succession.

The TLHR defends lese majeste cases, cries foul over the use of military courts and has “documented 18 cases of torture since the coup in a September submission in collaboration with the International Commission of Jurists to the United Nations.” All complaints are brushed aside by the military junta that runs the country.

The thuggish regime makes the TLHR lawyers work difficult. They may only “speak to their clients by telephone through thick glass barriers, though confidentiality is compromised because their conversations are known to be recorded.” Prison authorities harass lawyers for daring to take on lese majeste cases.

A TLHR researcher makes an excellent point: “We think people have a right to know… If we don’t speak out, no-one else will.” The defendents also deserve to be represented and their cases deserve to be known



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