Stop assaulting opponents!

4 06 2019

Thai Lawyers for Human Rights is a co-signatory to a statement decrying the increasing use of thuggish violence against political opponents of the military junta. Other signatories are the Cross Cultural Foundation, Center for Protection and Revival of Local Community Rights, Community Resource Centre Foundation, Human Rights Lawyers Association, Enlaw Thai Foundation, and Union Civil for Liberty.

Read this important statement here or here.

The military boot and the middle class I

22 03 2016

The military dictatorship is continuing to expand its repression to the middle class, the broad class that joined with the Sino-Thai tycoons in bringing the junta to power.

Prachatai reports that “[l]awyers, academics, and civil society groups” are aghast that the military junta has directly intervened “in an election of the Lawyers Council of Thailand…”.

PPT is aware how much the junta’s rather dull leaders hate elections, but an intervention in an election of a relatively small association seems rather more dopey and hamfisted than is usual for the military brass.

Those on the receiving end of this bit of junta repression make the point that the “junta has no legitimacy to do so [intervene].” They seem to have forgotten that their previous support for anti-democrats means that the junta does not need legitimacy for repression.

In any case, the “Human Rights Lawyers Association (HRLA), Cross Cultural Foundation (CrCF), ENLAWTHAI Foundation, Union for Civil Liberty (UCL) and 66 other lawyers and law academics on Monday, 21 March 2016, issued a joint statement to condemn the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) for ordering a halt to the election of the Lawyers Council under the Royal Patronage…”. We suppose they are making a point by including the last phrase.

The junta issued an order on 16 March issued to “halt the upcoming election of the council’s president and committee for 2016-2019.” The reason cited is, as you’d expect from these lumbering dopes, is plainly stupid: “In a letter sent to the Lawyers Council by the NCPO last week, Gen Chalermchai Sitthisat, Deputy Secretary-General of the NCPO, reasoned that the Lawyers Council has many members and that the election of the Council might be deemed a violation of NCPO Announcement No. 7/2014 which bans a political gathering of five or more persons.”

The order means that “the current president and committee of the Lawyers Council shall serve as an acting committee for the time being.” We suspect that the current leadership better suits the junta.

The gradually expanding repression of middle class is a feature of previous regimes, and it remains to be seen if this class’s anti-democratic stance holds in the face of its own repression or whether, as in 1992, it finds the military boot on its neck too restrictive.

Updated: No responsibility

10 11 2015

The military junta has spent the past day or so trying to distance itself from the second acknowledged death in military custody. It has involved The Dictator and the Minister for “Justice.”

In an AFP report, General Prayuth Chan-ocha is reported to have “said the military was not to blame for the death of a famous fortune teller charged with royal defamation after he died in custody in a Bangkok army barracks.”

Prayuth declared that the detention site, inside the 11th Army Division, was “not a military prison” but is “run by the justice ministry and supervised by police.” In other words, the area inside the military base, in military buildings, surrounded by military personnel and kit is not military.

Prayuth then became even more bizarre than usual, claiming to reporters: “When you use the word military prison it’s shocking. The military is kind not cruel…”. Tell that to the tens of thousands of victims and families who have been subject to the military’s enforced disappearances, land losses, red drum incinerations, torture, regular massacres and various kinds of corruption.

In a Prachatai report, Gen Paiboon Kumchaya, the Minister of “Justice,” also denies any responsibility. Like his boss, he argued that “the remand facility in the 11th Army Division is not a ‘military prison’, but a normal remand facility runs by the Department of Corrections.” We do not think that “normal” is in any way the right description of this military facility housing a makeshift prison (or is it Detention Site Green?).

His excuse is that deaths in custody are somehow normal. Paiboon said that the deaths of Suriyan Sujaritpalawong and Police Major Prakrom Warunprapha were just two deaths in amongst many deaths and suicides amongst the prison population of 300,000-400,000 people.

Suriyan and Prakrom, however, were held in this special prison, with just a handful of prisoners.

Paiboon also said that health checks on Jirawong Wattanathewasilp, the only surviving prisoner arrested in this group of three, “will be carried out.”

Several human rights organizations are now calling for “accountability and greater transparency on the detention of lese majeste suspects.” They should be doing more than this, but the situation in Thailand under the military boot is anything but normal.

Update: The Human Rights Lawyers Association and Union for Civil Liberty have called for the use of “Section 150 of the Criminal Procedure Code by launching an inquiry into Suriyan’s custodial death…”. They state that the authorities are required to “inform at least a person in Suriyan’s family prior to the autopsy being performed.” In addition, they point out that “Suriyan’s death was regarded as death while in the custody of authorities which meant concerned officials were required to comply with the Criminal Procedure Code law governing the decease’s autopsy…. The law required a police investigator, a public prosecutor, a physician and an administrative official to be present at the autopsy…”. Law does not not appear to apply in lese majeste cases or to the military dictatorship (unless they are using the law against others).

Lawyers against Article 44

18 04 2015

We are late reproducing this excellent statement:

April 14, 2015

A Statement from The Human Rights Lawyers Association (HRLA) forwarded by the Asian Human Rights Commission

THAILAND: Revoke the NCPO Order no. 3/2558 and stop invoking Section 44 of the Constitution of the Kingdom of Thailand (Interim), B.E. 2557 (2014)

The National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) has issued Order no. 3/2558 concerning the maintenance of peace and national security, invoking Section 44 of the Constitution of the Kingdom of Thailand (Interim), B.E. 2557 (2014),[1] to replace Martial Law which was lifted on 1 April 2015.

The Human Rights Lawyers Association (HRLA) considers NCPO Order no. 3/2558, which grants the Head of the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) draconian power over the Legislative, Administrative and Judicial branches, including over any law made by these branches, to be in breach of the fundamental principles of democracy and human rights for the following reasons.

  1. The power granted to the Head of the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) over the Legislative, Administrative and Judicial branches amounts to an absolute centralization of powers, which is incompatible with the rule of law. Checks and balances are normally provided to prevent arbitrary use of ruling power which may affect national security and the rights and freedoms of the people. In addition, the Order falls outside the jurisdiction of administrative justice and the Act on Establishment of Administrative Courts and Administrative Court Procedure. It is, therefore, intended to place power beyond judicial review, leaving the people whose rights are violated unable to resort to judicial remedies and judicial review to hold the officials exercising the Order accountable.
  1. The Order paves the way for military officials to act as a “competent official for maintaining peace and order,” invoking the Order to conduct a search, seizure, or compulsory requisition, to prohibit dissemination of news, or to perform duties similar to an inquiry official under the Criminal Procedure Code. The trial of civilians charged for violations of Articles 107 to 112, and 113 to 118 of the Penal Code, and for violations of the NCPO Announcements and Orders, continues to fall under the jurisdiction of the Military Court as per the NCPO Announcements no. 37/2557, 38/2557 and 50/2557. Trial by Military Court breaches the guarantee of fundamental rights and the right to a fair trial by an independent tribunal, as provided for by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR). These breaches include the right of access to information, freedom of the press, freedom of expression, freedom of assembly and the rights of people to access justice. As a result, the Order has made the rights and freedom of people more vulnerable to violation. Thus such an Order could have an adverse impact on the present attempts to restore democratic processes in Thailand.

HRLA and the undersigned organizations and individuals, including lawyers and activists working on law and human rights, are gravely concerned that such exercise of arbitrary power without any checks and balances or accountability will threaten the exercise of rights and freedoms by people and contribute to an environment of impunity. We therefore urge the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) to revoke application of Section 44 of the Interim Constitution of the Kingdom of Thailand, B.E. 2557 (2014) and NCPO Order no.3/2558 in the present context.

With respect in human rights and human dignity

  1. Human Rights Lawyers Association (HRLA)
  2. Union for Civil Liberties (UCL)
  3. Academic Network for Social and Southern Communities Organization
  4. Mr.Somchai Homlaor, Lawyer
  5. Mr. Pairoj Pholphet, Lawyer
  6. Mr.Sangchai Ratanaseriwong, Attorney
  7. Mr.Chairat Saeng-Arun, Attorney
  8. Mr.Thaworn Piyawongrungruang, Attorney
  9. Mr.Ratsada Manooratsada, Attorney
  10. Mr.Surasich​ lueangarunnapha, Attorney
  11. Mr.Sarawut Pratoomraj, Attorney
  12. Mr.Surachai Trongngam, Attorney
  13. Mr.Sumitchai Hatthasan, Attorney
  14. Ms.Sor Rattamanee Polkla, Attorney
  15. Mr.Somnuek Tumsuparb, Attorney
  16. Mrs.Umporn Sungtong, Attorney
  17. Ms.Yaowalak Anuphan, Attorney
  18. Ms.Darunee Paisarnpanichsakul, Lawyer
  19. Ms.Preeda Tongchumnum, Attorney
  20. Ms.Napaporn Songprang, Attorney
  21. Mr.Teerapun Punkiri, Attorney
  22. Mr.Songkrant Pongboonjun, Lawyer
  23. Ms.Junjira Junpaew, Attorney
  24. Mr.Laofang Bundidterdsakul, Attorney
  25. Mr.Panom Butakiew, Attorney
  26. Ms.Koreeyor Manuchae, Attorney
  27. Ms.Pradittha Pariyakaewfah, Lawyer
  28. Ms.Atchara Suttisuntarin, Lawyer
  29. Ms.Puttinun Kopunta, Lawyer
  30. Ms.Paranda Pankaew, Lawyer
  31. Mr.Sonthaya Kodpunya, Lawyer
  32. Mr.Apirach Khansen, Lawyer
  33. Ms.Rosnanee Hayeesamare, Lawyer
  34. Ms.Waleerat Chuwa, Lawyer
  35. Ms.Khumklao Songsomboon, Attorney
  36. Ms.Montana Duangprapa, Attorney
  37. Ms.Waraporn Utairungsee, Attorney
  38. Ms.Anyanee Chaichompoo, Lawyer
  39. Ms.Pawinee Chumsri, Attorney
  40. Mr.Thornthan Kanmangmee, Lawyer
  41. Mr.Abdulloh Hayee-abu, Attorney
  42. Mr.Kritsada Khunnarong, Attorney
  43. Ms.Poonsuk Poonsukjarern, Attorney
  44. Ms.Supunsa Marhem, Attorney
  45. Mr.Danaikrit Sreekarn, Lawyer
  46. Ms.Chunsa Supunmuang, Lawyer
  47. Ms.Atcha SongJarern, Lawyer
  48. Ms.Umarporn Sungkalekha, Lawyer
  49. Mr.Amarin Saichan, Lawyer
  50. Ms.Somsakul Sreemeteekul, Attorney
  51. Mr.Weerawat Oboh, Attorney
  52. Ms.Angkana Anujorn, Attorney
  53. Mr.Narakorn Namuangrak, Lawyer
  54. Ms.Waraporn Intanon, Lawyer
  55. Ms.Juntima Trilerd, Lawyer
  56. Mr.Montree Achariyasakulchai, Lawyer
  57. Ms.Muda Nawanard, Lawyer
  58. Ms.Jingjung Nasare, Lawyer
  59. Ms.Thitiworada Thammapiriyakul, Lawyer
  60. Mr.Israpong Wiengwong, Lawyer
  61. Ms.Phattranit Yaodam, Attorney
  62. Ms.Waewtar Sarles, Lawyer
  63. Mr.Jessada Jangjun, Attorney
  64. Ms.Achichaya Oodwong, Lawyer
  65. Ms.Karnjana Akkrachard, Lawyer
  66. Mr.Kritsada Cheechuang, Attorney
  67. Mr.Bundit Hormket, Lawyer
  68. Ms.Chalermsri Prasertsri, Lawyer
  69. Mr.Sutthikiet Kochaso, Lawyer
  70. Ms.Sasinun Thammanitinun, Attorney
  71. Mr.Sutthikiew Thammadul, Attorney
  72. Ms.Mananya Poonsiri, Lawyer
  73. Ms.Utumporn Duangkaew, Lawyer
  74. Ms.Watcharasak Vijitnun, Lawyer
  75. Mr.Jatupat Bunpatraksar, Lawyer
  76. Ms.Kwanhatai Patumthawornsakul, Lawyer
  77. Ms.Maseetoh Munloh, Lawyer
  78. Ms.Siwaporn Fordsoongnern, Lawyer
  79. Mr.Kittichai Jongkraijak, Lawyer
  80. Mr.Apisarn Yarnuch, Attorney
  81. Mrs.Natthasiri Berkman, Attorney
  82. Mr.Suriyong Kongkrapun, Attorney
  83. Mr.Thitirat Soisuwun, Lawyer
  84. Ms.Nuengruetai Kochasarn, Lawyer
  85. Ms.Suthatip Omparn, Lawyer
  86. Ms.Natwadee Tengpanichsakul, Lawyer
  87. Mr.Sakeemun Benjadeja, Attorney
  88. Mr.Papob Siemharn, Lawyer
  89. Ms.Preeyaporn Kunkumnerd, Lawyer
  90. Ms.Butsara Singhabut, Lawyer
  91. Mr.Wannawat Summaniti, Lawyer
  92. Mr.Anucha Wintachai, Human Rights Activist
  93. Ms.Hataikarn Renumard
  94. Ms.Siripaporn Chuensri
  95. Ms.Supaporn Malailoy
  96. Mrs.Pairat Chantong
  97. Ms.Sirilak Sriprasit
  98. Ms.Yollada Thanakornsakul
  99. Mr.Panom Tano
  100. Mrs.Sukarntar Sukpaitar
  101. Mrs.Chanidapar Prakaipech
  102. Mr.Wasin Paitarfong, Attorney
  103. Mr.Pijit Sukayuwana, Attorney
  104. Mr.Wisut Chantadansuwun, Lawyer
  105. Mr.Wanus Khosasu, Lawyer
  106. Mr.Nontawut Rachakawee, Lawyer
  107. Mr.Prompong Wongras, Lawyer
  108. Ms.Nawasorn Limsakul, Lawyer
  109. Mr.Witsarut Kitdee, Lawyer
  110. Ms.Amornrat Klungkumnerd, Lawyer
  111. Mr.Udhar Lohmoh, Volunteer
  112. Mr. Mahamasulainee Tohmalor, Volunteer
  113. Ms.Nopparak Yungeiam, Lawyer
  114. Ms.Nijnirun Awapark, Lawyer
  115. Ms.Sirikan Jarernsri, Lawyer
  116. Mr.Sittiporn Parkpirom, Attorney
  117. 117.Mr.Preeda Nakpiw, Attorney
  118. Mr.Natser Ardwarin, Attorney
  119. Mr.Warut Boontharik, Attorney
  120. Ms.Jirarat Mulsiri, Attorney
  121. Ms.Luenhorm Saifah, Lawyer
  122. Mr.Wuttichai Parkduangjai, Lawyer
  123. Mr.Jirawat Suriyashotichyangkul, Lawyer
  124. Mr.Kittisak Tiengtrong, Attorney
  125. Acting Sub Lt.Chawanun Kanokvijitsin, Attorney
  126. Mr.Arnon Sriboonjun, Law Academician
  127. Mr. Jesada Thongkaow, Law Academician
  128. Ms.Saovanee Kaewjullakarn, Law Academician
  129. Mr. Tossapon Tassanakunlapan, Law Academician
  130. Mr.Khanpech Chaitaweep, Law Academician
  131. Associate Professor Doctor Nattapong Jitnirat, Academician
  132. Mr,Chalit Meesit, Attorney

For more information, please contact:

Human Rights Lawyers Association :Tel: +66-2-6934939 +66-2-6934939, +66-2-6934831 +66-2-6934831

NCPO Order no. 3/2558

[1]Section 44 of the Constitution of the Kingdom of Thailand (Interim), B.E. 2557 (2014) states that “In the case where the Head of the National Council for Peace and Order is of opinion that it is necessary for the benefit of reform in any field and to strengthen public unity and harmony, or for the prevention, disruption or suppression of any act which undermines public peace and order or national security, the Monarchy, national economics or administration of State affairs, whether that act emerges inside or outside the Kingdom, the Head of the National Council for Peace and Order shall have the powers to make any order to disrupt or suppress regardless of the legislative, executive or judicial force of that order. In this case, that order, act or any performance in accordance with that order is deemed to be legal, constitutional and conclusive, and it shall be reported to the National Legislative Assembly and the Prime Minister without delay.”

Updated: AHRC on extrajudicial killings

8 08 2012

PPT reproduces a recent Asian Human Rights Commission statement regarding the sentencing of police officers involved in a case of extrajudicial murder from 2004. We posted on this twice a few days ago (here and here).

The AHRC statement bears on some of the concerns expressed in our second post regarding the bailing of the officers involved and the double standards at work in this act. However, a point that we missed in those earlier posts is that the link to the War on Drugs in this case is not as clear as the headlines insist (including our own). As the AHRC report indicates, this terrible killing took place in July 2004, some time after the period that most refer to as the War on Drugs. For example, a Wikileaks cable from November 2006, about an investigation into the deaths associated with the War on Drugs, states:

In February 2003, [Prime Minister] Thaksin [Shinawatra] launched a national campaign targeting drug dealers and traffickers as a threat to society and national security. Over the next several months hundreds of alleged drug offenders were killed. Estimates of the number of people killed vary. Post [i.e. Embassy] estimates the number killed as a result of this policy to be approximately 1,300. Other estimates range as high as 2,600.

Human Rights Watch states:

In February 2003, the Thai government, under then Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, launched a ‘war on drugs’, purportedly aimed at the suppression of drug trafficking and the prevention of drug use. In fact, a major outcome of this policy was arbitrary killings. In the first three months of the campaign there were some 2800 extrajudicial killings [PPT: The latter figure is incorrect as it counts all murders in the period].

 The point is that the reprehensible murder of Kiettisak Thitboonkrong was linked to the War on Drugs when: “Following his death, his family launched a campaign to investigate and hold the police in Kalasin accountable for his murder and the murders of 27 other individuals by police of the same station during and following the so-called “war on drugs”.

This distinction may be a small point in processes that have seen literally thousands of people murdered by state authorities over several decades. Yet getting events in the right context seems important when trying to end the impunity enjoyed by state officials when they kill other citizens.  That said, the main issue remains that this police station had a murderous reputation for extrajudicial killings that were also a mark of the War on Drugs and deserves judicial intervention on all cases attributed to it.

THAILAND: Five police convicted of murder in landmark ruling

The Asian Human Rights Commission greets with cautious optimism the landmark ruling of the Criminal Court in Bangkok to convict five police officers for the murder of a teenager during the “war on drugs” in 2004, and hopes that it will serve as a precedent of sorts for other cases of police and state officials accused of similar crimes.

On 30 July 2012, in Black Case No. 3252/2552, 3466/2552, the Criminal Court found five out of the six police officers accused of murdering Kiettisak Thitboonkrong, age 17, in 2004. The six defendants were Pol. Snr. Sgt. Maj. Angkarn Kammoonna, Pol. Snr. Sgt. Maj. Sutthinant Noenthing, Pol. Snr. Sgt. Maj. Phansilp Uppanant, Pol. Lt. Col. Samphao Indee, Pol. Col. Montree Sriboonloue, and Pol. Lt. Col. Sumitr Nanthasathit, all officers stationed in Kalasin Province, northeast Thailand. The police had arrested Kiettisak on 16 July 2004 for allegedly stealing a motorcycle. When his family heard this news, they went to the police station and attempted to talk to him. After returning multiple times, his grandmother was allowed to witness his interrogation on 22 July 2004 and told to wait for him to be bailed out later that day. But Kiettisak never came home and several days later his mutilated body was found in a neighbouring province. Following his death, his family launched a campaign to investigate and hold the police in Kalasin accountable for his murder and the murders of 27 other individuals by police of the same station during and following the so-called “war on drugs”. After an extraordinary effort on their part to bring the killers of Kiettisak to justice, the court finally reached its verdict just over a week ago. It sentenced three police officers to death for their actions, while one it sentenced to life imprisonment, and one to seven years in prison.

It took Kiettisak’s relatives seven years to secure this outcome. At their urging, in 2005, the Department of Special Investigation (DSI) in the Ministry of Justice began investigating the case. It spent three years. On 18 May 2009, the public prosecutor charged six police officers with premeditated murder and with concealing Kiettisak’s corpse to hide the cause of death. Because this case was investigated under the Special Investigation Act it was sent to the Criminal Court in Bangkok. The public prosecutor conducted the case and Mr. Kittisapt Thitboonkrong, father of Mr. Kiettisak, successfully sought and obtained permission from the court to act as a joint plaintiff, represented by lawyers from the Lawyers’ Council of Thailand working pro bono. The hearings took another three years. Observers for the AHRC attended many of the hearings throughout the duration of the trial.

In its verdict, the Criminal Court found Pol. Snr. Sgt. Maj. Angkarn Kammoonna, Pol. Snr. Sgt. Maj. Sutthinant Noenthing guilty of premeditated murder and hiding a corpse. It sentenced them to death. Pol. Lt. Col. Sumitr Nanthasathit it found guilty of premeditated murder and sentenced him to life imprisonment. Pol. Col. Montree Sriboonloue it found guilty of abusing his authority to aid in protecting his subordinates from criminal prosecution and sentenced him to seven years’ imprisonment. The Criminal Court found Pol. Lt. Col. Samphao Indee innocent of involvement in the murder of Mr. Kiettisak.

With some reservations, the AHRC considers this ruling an important step towards ending impunity for state violence in Thailand. It is the first case of which the AHRC is aware in which police responsible for killings during the “war on drugs” under the government of ousted Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra have been held to account for their crimes. It is also the first case arising from the so-called “war” that the DSI investigated. In February 2003, Thaksin announced the beginning of the “war” with an unequivocal message to police and other state officials–that any and all necessary actions should be taken to free the country of the drug menace, including killing. Over the next three months, it became clear that the message served as a carte blanche for the use of murderous violence against citizens, rather than using the provisions of the Criminal Code to investigate and prosecute. By May 2003, an estimated number of over 2500 people had been killed. Kalasin Province was the first province in the country that the government declared had “won” the war. This ephemeral victory was achieved at the cost of many lives taken illegally, at the hands or bidding of state agents. Kiettisak was but one victim.

Rather than holding state officials who used extrajudicial violence against these citizens to account, in the worst cases, perpetrators of crimes have been rewarded. In most cases they have been tacitly and conveniently ignored. One of the long-term effects of this approach has been the further consolidation of impunity for state violence in Thailand. Therefore, this case stands out among other cases of extrajudicial killing in Thailand over the last ten years, in which courts have been unwilling to hold state officials to account, notably in the cases of the mass deaths in custody following the Tak Bai incident, and the April-May 2010 killings. Even in cases in which courts have ruled that a citizen has died while in state custody due to the actions of state officials, such as the March 2009 torture and death of Imam Yapa Kaseng, the actions of state officials have been classed as matters of official “duty” and they have been exempted from allegations of murder. This is the larger context in which Kiettisak was murdered, in which his relatives and other Kalasin residents struggled to secure justice and accountability, and against which the Criminal Court gave its ruling.

Given that this is also the first case in which a court decision has been reached, the AHRC welcomes the guilty verdict as a clear sign that the judiciary is willing to hold police to account for their use of extrajudicial violence against citizens. At the same time, the AHRC as a matter of principle opposes the death penalty under all circumstances, and calls for the sentences in this case to be reviewed, such that the convicted police officers instead receive appropriate prison terms.

Additionally, the AHRC is gravely concerned that the convicted officers have obtained bail pending appeal. The convictions for these sentences are of such gravity that good reason exists to expect that the convicted police will attempt to evade punishment by absconding or other means. They may also seek to obtain revenge against one or more persons who testified against them. In the well-known case of disappeared human rights lawyer Somchai Neelaphaijit, the one officer convicted of an offence in connection with his disappearance himself subsequently disappeared, and is suspected to have faked his own death; he was subsequently acquitted on appeal. In the meantime, Somchai’s family received frequent threats against their own lives. The AHRC fears that in this case too the convicted police if allowed to walk free pending appeal may yet find ways and means to pervert the course of justice and undermine this hard-fought result. Consequently, it urges that the granting of bail be revoked and the five convicted officers be imprisoned while awaiting appeal outcomes.

Finally, the text of the court decision was not read in its entirety on the day the decision was announced in the Criminal Court, and the Asian Human Rights Commission is awaiting the release of the full judgment by the Criminal Court. We call on the Criminal Court to make this important decision available to the public as soon as possible. In the coming weeks, the AHRC will undertake a detailed analysis of the court decision in the case of the murder of Kiettisak Thitboonkrong with respect to the political and legal context and history of impunity for state violence in Thailand as well as the relevant international human rights standards.

Update: In addition to the above statement, the AHRC has forwarded a statement by Thailand’s Human Rights Lawyers Association, Union for Civil Liberty, Campaign Committee for Human Rights, and Peace and Human Rights Resource Center. As many of the details are similar to those above, PPT provides a link to the statement rather than copying it.

Further updated: Nitirat academic attacked

29 02 2012

Leading Nitirat academic Worachet Pakeerut was set upon, punched and injured by two unidentified men in a parking lot at Thammasat University. The Nation reports that Worachet was talking to a fellow academic from Mahidol University “when two men sneaked from behind to deliver several punches in his face.” He commented: “I was hit and everything happened so suddenly that I could not even remember the profile of my attackers…”.

A Nation photo

Metropolitan Police are said to be investigating but “had not drawn conclusion on the motive behind the attack.” PPT thinks the motive is as clear as day: Worachet was attacked as a royalist warning to him and Nitirat to shut up. The kind of intimidatory tactic is one that has been commonly used in the past, most usually by dark elements within the security forces.

Interestingly, editor of Fa Diaw Kan magazine Thanapol Eawsakul witnessed the attack and saw “two attackers fleeing by a motorcycle.” That motorcycle was also seen by activist Sombat Boonngamanong who “tweeted that the motorcycle license plate was Mo Tho 684.” That should make it somewhat easier for police, assuming that they actually want to track down the aggressors.

This kind of attack is reminiscent of the dark days of authoritarian regimes, usually associated with the military when engaged in regime-maintaining violence, and is very worrying as there have been earlier instances of hate speech targeting Nitirat and Worachet. The nature of this kind of political attack is exemplified in The Nation’s own report, which is misleadingly stated:

Worachet is the core leader of Nitirat academic group spearheading a campaign to amend the lese majeste law. He is seen as a controversial figure due to his outspokenness in opposing the coup. His political views are often favouring the pro-Thaksin [Shinawatra] camp.

In fact, in earlier days, Worachet was a leading anti-Thaksin critic writing chapters in books attacking Thaksin edited by Chirmsak Pinthong. He was also anti-coup in 2006. That he has now suggested discussions of reforms of the draconian and internationally condemned lese majeste law, sees some – and apparently The Nation reporter and editors – as somehow simply “pro-Thaksin.” This kind of loose and/or politicized reporting makes the media culpable in political violence.

Update 1: Readers should look at Prachatai’s stories following this event. The first story refers to the despicable comments of ASTV/Manager readers. In fact, none of this is surprising and is pretty much par for the course. The second story is a statement from Human Rights Lawyers Association, Union for Civil Liberty, Human Rights and Development Foundation, Campaign Committee for Human Rights, Environmental Litigation for the Wants, Cross-Cultural Foundation, Center for Protection and Recovery of Local Community Rights, Community Resources Center deploring the attack. They state that they are “gravely concerned that the reason behind the attack could stem from the lecturer’s taking the lead as a core member of the Nitirat Group.” They add that the incident will “spur a climate of fear in society.” Of course, that is exactly what the attack is meant to do. The groups condemn the attack.

Update 2: Both the Bangkok Post and The Nation report that the two men who attacked Worachet have surrendered to the police. The “twin brothers told investigators that they are members of the anti-Nitirat group that opposes any move to amend Section 112 of the Criminal Code, the lese majeste law.” Meanwhile, in the Bangkok Post it is reported that: “Members of the Nitirat law group at Thammasat University say they will continue with their activities to disseminate their opinions, in the spirit of academic principle, despite the attack…”. The Thammasat University rector “condemned the attackers…”.

Human rights groups speak against the denial of bail on lese majeste

16 02 2012

PPT has been harping on the point that the denial of bail for several people charged with lese majeste is a rejection of constitutional provisions and amounts to at least additional punishment and could be conceived as a form of torture.

We are pleased to note that several Thai human rights organizations have decided to speak out on exactly this point.

In a statement issued on 15 February 2012, the Human Rights Lawyers Association, Cross Cultural Foundation, Union for Civil Liberty, Environmental Litigation and Advocacy for the Wants, Foundation of Muslim Attorney Centre, Asian Institute for Human Rights, Community Resource Centre, Thai Netizen Network, Center for Child Development and Community Network, and Stateless Watch have deemed that “the right of an alleged offender or an accused to temporary release is a very pertinent issue in the criminal justice process.”

They state that:

1. The right to temporary release is a universal and fundamental right that should be accorded equally to all human beings….

The right to temporary release is prescribed for in Section 40(7) of the 2007 Constitution of the Kingdom of Thailand…. The … right to temporary release is a crucially important legal principle established in bother domestic and international laws. It is an obligation for all parties concerned to follow and implement on an equal basis….

2. Any exceptions made against the right to temporary release have to be based on extremely important circumstances and have to be accompanied by objective and credible evidence….

3. The Court is obliged to interpret the law according to the intent of the law and international standards to uphold human rights and the right to temporary release has to be realized in all cases….

4. Section 39 (2) and (3) of the Section 27 of the 2007 Constitution of the Kingdom of Thailand primarily upholds the presumed innocence principle.

In concluding, these groups affirm that:

prior to any final judgment … the treatment of the person as if he already committed an offense is not permitted. Therefore, as a result of the denial of bail request, the detention of Mr. Somyot Pruksakasemsuk and other alleged offenders or accused during the trial period together with other convicts whose final judgments have been reached is therefore a breach of the Constitutional provision.

Finally, these human rights organizations recommend that the courts grant Somyos and others in similar circumstances, be granted bail. They make an excellent case.