Trampling legal rights

27 06 2021

Our readers will know that the royalist courts have, for some time, abandoned most pretenses of so-called blind justice, observing the constitution, or even following the law as it is written. But the (in)justice system extends further than the courts.

A recent statement by Thai Lawyers for Human Rights discusses breaches of confidential attorney-client by the Department of Corrections.no-justice

On 16 June 2021, Parit Chiwarak “raised his concern regarding the practice of eavesdropping on confidential attorney-client conversations in prison and proposed that … [a Parliamentary] Committee launches an inspection on the Department of Corrections’ conduct.”

Immediately, Corrections Department director-general Ayut Sinthoppan responded that:

Section 9(5) of the Rules of the Department of Corrections on Visit, Contact with Prisoners, and Study Visit to or Contact with Prison, B.E. 2561 (2018) clearly prescribes that an external party authorized to visit or contact prisoners must consent to have prison officials listen to their conversations, take photos and audio recordings, cut off communication if the conversation is considered inappropriate.

He added that “if a lawyer wants to keep the conversation with a prisoner confidential, they must inform a prison official.”

TLHR considered this statement as “an admission that the prison has been using its authority under the Department of Corrections’ rules to eavesdrop and record most conversations between attorneys and their clients in prison” and that “confidentiality is only occasionally permitted as a rare exception.”

TLHR observed that this is a serious “violation of the right to access counsel per Article 14 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR),” to which Thailand is a State Party and has obligations to comply with the ICCPR’s provisions. Furthermore, it contradicts Section 7/1(1) of Thailand’s Criminal Procedure Code, which guarantees the rights of the arrested and suspects in detention or imprisonment to meet and consult with their lawyer tête-à-tête.

In addition, Article 61 of the Corrections Act B.E. 2560 (2017) states, “The prison shall arrange a place for prisoners to have a tête-à-tête meeting and consultation with their lawyer or persons to be appointed as their lawyer as specified in the rules of the Department of Corrections.” This provision ensures the right to meet a lawyer confidentially without imposing any restrictions on such a right.

Furthermore, the Rules of the Department of Corrections on Visit, Contact with Prisoners, and Study Visit to or Contact with Prison, B.E. 2561 (2018), which is a subordinate law, provide separate rules for external parties and lawyers. Section 9 in Part 1 allows the Department of Corrections to record the conversations between the external parties and prisoners. In contrast, Part 2 did not grant the same power in the case of attorney-prisoner communications. Section 19 states that the rules in Part 1 could be enforced mutatis mutandis. Nonetheless, it is still illegal to record attorney-prisoner conversations because that rule violates Article 61 of the Corrections Act B.E. 2560 (2017), whose status is higher than the Department of Corrections’ Rules in the legal hierarchy.

“Eavesdropping on attorney-client conversations does not only violate the right to fair trial and Article 61 of the Corrections Act B.E. 2560 (2017). It also seriously jeopardizes the entire justice system. The statement from the Director-General of the Department of Corrections, which cited Rules of the Department of Corrections on Visit, Contact with Prisoners, and Study Visit to or Contact with Prison, B.E. 2561 (2018), is unacceptable. The right to have confidential access to a lawyer is a fundamental principle of criminal law, which could not be precluded as an exception under any Rules. It also should not be the lawyer’s duty to request for the guarantee of this right.

Therefore, TLHR calls for the Minister of Justice, Lawyers Council of Thailand, National Human Rights Commission, and other relevant agencies to investigate this matter and take steps to amend the said Rules because any persons facing a charge must be entitled to their right to consult with their lawyer confidentially. If the justice system could not guarantee this right, such a failure could adversely impact their ability to fight the lawsuit, hindering their full ability to defend themselves in court effectively,” said Yaowalak Anupan, Chief of TLHR.

Thai Lawyers for Human Rights

18 June 2021





Still on the lam

16 06 2021

The 2012 hit-and-run case involving tycoon scion Vorayuth “Boss” Yoovidhya of Red Bull fame, when he killed a policeman while driving his luxury sports car while intoxicated is back in the news.

The Bangkok Post recently reported that, after all these years, the National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC) is considering whether it mightlaunch an inquiry against at least 10 people for their alleged role in delaying justice…”. That means those officials who helped Boss and his associates tamper with witnesses and smooth his escape from the country to enjoy the high life on the lam.

It is not the NACC that has been investigating. According to spokesman Niwatchai Kasemmongkol it is the findings of an:

independent panel headed by former NACC member Vicha Mahakun [that] indicated a number of people, including several police officers and public prosecutors, played a big role in getting prosecutors to drop criminal charges against Mr Vorayuth.

That report was “taken up by a NACC sub-committee, which in turn recommended the NACC to launch a more detailed investigation into individuals which the Vicha panel believed had intentionally acted to derail the justice process.”

That’s the report. Will it do anything? Or is it just another stalling tactic? After all, as everyone knows, Vorayuth and his lawyers repeatedly postponed his court appearances before he fled abroad.

Vorayuth Red Bull

An AFP photo clipped from ChannelNews Asia

While Vorayuth was on the lam, “a speeding charge against him was dropped after its one-year statute of limitations expired in 2013…. Meanwhile, a second charge — failing to stop to help a crash victim — expired on Sept 3, 2017.”

Only a cocaine use charge and a reckless driving causing death charges remain. The former expires in September 2022 and the latter in 2027. Previously, the Office of the Attorney General had recommended dropping the reckless driving charge. It was the public outcry over that that saw Vicha’s panel put together.

Somehow, we feel that justice will never be served. In Thailand, for the rich, justice and injustice are commodities.





Updated: Judges and Toyota II

1 06 2021

Thailand’s judiciary is rotten. It is politically biased, engages in acts of double standards, and has been shown to be inhumane in its sentencing. Underneath all of this, it is corrupt, long “protected” by is association with the monarchy.

However, a bribery case in the USA and involving Toyota is shining a light on corruption alleged to be at the very top of the judiciary. For an earlier post on this developing case, see here.

About a week ago, Law 360’s Frank G. Runyeon reported that:Law360

“U.S. authorities are ramping up their Foreign Corrupt Practices Act investigation of Toyota, with federal prosecutors impaneling a grand jury in Texas as they seek any evidence the carmaker bribed top Thai judges to overturn a $350 million tax judgment, according to a U.S. law enforcement official and documents related to the investigation.

Ongoing investigations by both the USA’s Department of Justice and Securities and Exchange Commission are poring over documents from Toyota, which self-reported, an internal company investigation conducted by WilmerHale, presented to American authorities by Debevoise & Plimpton LLP in April 2020.

Toyota suspected senior attorneys working for Toyota Motor Thailand “funneled bribes through a private Thai law firm to Thailand Supreme Court judges in an effort to influence the decision on a still-pending appeal of the tax judgment…”.

The grand jury proceedings are secret, but more details have been released regarding the internal investigation at Toyota:

The internal Toyota investigation found that TMT contracted with Annanon Law Office to help establish a backchannel to Thailand’s highest ranking judge via a former chief judge and an advisor, law enforcement documents show. TMT paid nearly $18 million on the $27 million contract, according to the documents, with $9 million to be paid if Toyota won the appeal, which relates to import taxes on Prius car parts.

Those potentially involved in the alleged bribery are named: “… Annanon law firm, … former Supreme Court of Thailand President Direk Ingkaninan and Supreme Court senior advisor Chaiyasit Trachutham…”. They were “to persuade high court president Slaikate Wattanapan to accept Toyota’s argument and have the court rule in its favor within a year, sometime after Slaikate’s term began in October 2019…”.

Runyeon reports that:

Thai government records indicate that around the time of the alleged bribery scheme Direk was a sitting senior judge and Slaikate was president of the Supreme Court. While the duration of Chaiyasit’s alleged tenure as a high court advisor is unclear, records show he was a senior judge on the Court of Appeal for Specialized Cases until at least October 2019…. Mr. Direk assisted TMT with the Prius case in the Primary Court and has been involved again in the current possible Supreme Court appeal.

Direk, 70, was the top ranking senior judge on the Supreme Court as of May 2020, government records show, and is eligible to serve until he ages out next September. Records show Chaiyasit, 70, reached mandatory retirement age in September 2020 after various judicial posts on Thailand’s appellate and supreme courts. Slaikate, 66, stepped down as Supreme Court president in September 2020, but retained senior judge status.

… The long-serving Toyota attorneys who law enforcement documents claim allegedly organized the scheme — General Manager Wichien Hirunmahapol, his deputy Sathit Tungjitpreechatai and Pornchai Saetachantana — left TMT in the midst of Toyota’s internal corruption probe and opened a boutique law firm, according to online biographies, the firm’s website and sources familiar with that investigation.

… A court official confirmed on Monday that Direk and Slaikate remain sitting senior judges on Thailand’s Supreme Court but did not immediately confirm Chaiyasit’s employment status. He referred Law360 back to an earlier public statement.

Soon after this report was noticed in Thailand, the Bangkok Post reported that the “Thai Court of Justice has vowed to take action against wrongdoers following a report the US Department of Justice is taking the Toyota bribery probe involving three top Thai judges to a grand jury.”

As always happens in such international cases of bribery and corruption, Thai authorities sought “information.”

Usually the “information is delayed, lost, misplaced for long enough that it fades away.

Suriyan Hongwilai, spokesman of the Court of Justice, stated that “if the Court of Justice found or could verify that the bribery had taken place, it would take disciplinary action, regardless of who the wrongdoers were or what positions they held by submitting the finding to the Judicial Commission.” He added that no one should “not to jump to conclusions before the cases were concluded in both countries.”

As we know, even if convicted of a crime in the US, the judges could turn to politics and become ministers.

LaughingAnother Law 360 report follows Suriyan’s media outing, claiming he stated that “[s]ince becoming aware of the matter, the Court of Justice has been trying to follow, verify, and gather all related information and facts both in the country and abroad…”. It seems they found nothing, knew nothing for Suriyan said: “Now that there has been a news report mentioning names and positions of some individuals, the Court of Justice will proceed to verify with the related affiliated agencies.” He added: “Further action would depend on the details of the obtained information…”.

It won’t be just PPT who will find such statements laughable. After all, as another Law 360 report says, it is “[m]ore than six months before Toyota disclosed concerns to U.S. authorities about possible foreign bribery in Thailand…” and two months since it was publicly reported.

Law360 says that the “protocol for the internal [Toyota] investigation was laid out in a 22-page document dated Sept. 30, 2019.” It was that document that “appeared to show that Toyota was concerned about possible corrupt payments to current and former Thailand Supreme Court judges, as well as to the country’s top finance and justice officials.”

It is stated that:

Toyota’s internal investigation focused on whether its employees made payments to any of eight Thai law firms or 12 individuals who may have played a role in the Prius litigation as the company was challenging the tax judgment in Thai courts. In addition to understanding if and how payments were made, the probe sought to confirm the amounts and whether any such payments were hidden, made indirectly, diverted to others, or “used or intended to be used for an improper purpose, and in particular, to influence the outcome of the Prius case.”

Another key question for reviewers was whether the recipients of any such payments had any connection to, influence over, or ex parte contact with sitting Thailand Supreme Court judges who might rule on Toyota’s case. WilmerHale also asked its team to flag any evidence that Toyota Motor Corp., the global parent company, knew about any “potentially improper payments to consultants.”

The response from the named judges began with threats of defamation cases. The aim was to keep their names out of reports in Thailand, including on social media. Isra News Agency reported:

that three Thai judges mentioned in a Law360 article about the possible bribery would ask the Court of Justice … to file a computer crime complaint with police to take legal action against those who mentioned them by name or shared such news on social media.

Thai PBS reports that “[f]ormer president of Thailand’s Appeals Court, Professor Chaiyasit Trachutham, has categorically denied allegations, reported by Law360, that he was among three senior judges implicated in Toyota Motors Thailand’s (TMT) bribery scandal.” He added that:

he was directly involved in the legal dispute between TMT and the Thai Customs Department, over import taxes on Toyota Prius hybrid cars,when he was a senior judge at the Appeals Court and was responsible for handling 10 case files…. After having carefully studied the case, he said that he felt that TMT had only a slim chance of winning the case….

The Bangkok Post reports that the Court of Justice moved a little further, and “has set up a 10-member panel to follow up on the Toyota bribery scandal…”. It was set up last Friday. So what the judiciary was doing before probably amounted to a hope that the story could be kept quiet.

Meanwhile, the Bangkok Post reported that “Salaikate Wattanaphan, former president of the Supreme Court, has [also] denied any involvement in the bribery case…”. He “insisted that since he wasn’t in a position to make any decisions on Toyota’s appeal against the Appeal Court’s ruling in the tax dispute case, it is impossible that he would be offered as much money as claimed.”

Salaikate said “he was president of the court back then but wasn’t directly involved in the decision.”He reckons “… accusations that senior judges were paid US$19 million and later US$27 million were sketchy … who would ever be silly enough to pay that much money to them while not knowing how the decision [on the appeal] would turn…”. It seems he’s semi-serious in this observation.

Meanwhile, cases against those mentioning the report and judges are moving faster than any investigation of the bribery allegations.

Update: How fast can a judge move when named in a corruption case? In the kill-the-messenger sprint, it is with Olympic record speed. The Bangkok Post reports that former Supreme Court president Direk Inkhaninan and Chaisit Trachutham, a former senior judge in the Appeal Court, have already “filed a complaint with the Crime Suppression Division against Law360, a US-based legal news website, for defamation.”





Penguin and Ammy bailed

12 05 2021

Prachatai reports the good news that the Criminal Court approved bail requests for activist Parit Chiwarak – Penguin – and singer Chaiamorn Kaewwiboonpan – Ammy the Bottom Blues.

The court issued a press release stating that:

Penguin and Rung

Parit with Panusaya in an earlier photo. Clipped from The Nation

the pair were released on Tuesday on a security of 400,000 baht for Parit and 250,000 baht for Chaiamorn on condition that they report to the court as assigned, they do not commit, or attend any activity that may cause public disorder or damage the institution of the monarchy, and they do not travel abroad without the court’s permission.

According to the report:

Parit’s bail security covered in equal amounts 2 cases from his participation in the protests on 19 September 2020 and 14-15 November 2020. 200,000 baht of the security for Chaiamorn covered the 19 September protest and 50,000 baht covered the case of setting fire to the King’s portrait at Klong Prem Prison.

Bail was granted at 18.20, some three hours after the court finished its hearing of the applications for Chaiamorn and Parit. Such delays continue to suggest that the courts are taking orders from elsewhere.

Ammy

An earlier photo of Ammy

Parit has been in pre-trial detention “for 92 days before being released on bail at the tenth attempt.” He had been on a hunger strike for 57 days, protesting the refusal of bail.

Chaiamorn had been detained for 69 days and released on his eighth bail application.

Penguin was released from the prison hospital. Prior to that “police officers from Mueang Roi Et Police Station showed up to arrest him on another charge. The lawyers managed to secure 200,000-baht police bail.”

In addition to the charges on which he bailed, Parit faces at least another 20 more lese majeste charges.





The heroin minister and protecting “the system”

10 05 2021

We decided to wait a couple of days to see how the Constitutional Court’s decision to protect Thammanat Prompao, deputy minister and convicted heroin trafficker, liar, nepotist, and thug before commenting further.

It seems he is untouchable. We assume this has something to do with the claim he made when arrested for heroin smuggling in Australia:

When Thammanat was sitting across from detectives making a statement in Parramatta jail on November 10, 1993, the first thing the young soldier put on the record was his connection to royalty.

After graduating from army cadet school in 1989 he “was commissioned as a bodyguard for the crown prince of Thailand” as a first lieutenant. “I worked in the crown prince’s household to the beginning of 1992,” he said, staying until deployed to help suppress a political conflict that culminated in an army-led massacre in Bangkok.

The crown prince is now King Vajiralongkorn, but the name landed like a thud: the judge made no mention of it when sentencing Thammanat over his part in moving 3.2 kilograms of heroin from Bangkok to Bondi.

Among the first reactions came from the reprehensible Wissanu Krea-ngam. Wissanu, who operates as a mongrel cross between Carl Schmitt and a Reich Minister of Justice, long ago proclaimed that Thammanat’s “eligibility for a seat in the cabinet is not in question because he is not being prosecuted by the Thai judiciary.”

The court agreed. No surprise there.  Deputy Prime Minister Wissanu Krea-ngam stated that “the court’s decision does not contradict the opinion of the Council of State, the government’s legal adviser, regarding MPs’ qualifications.”

The “Council of State said a person jailed for two years in Thailand or abroad is not eligible to be an MP within five years of being released…”. We have to admit that we did not see this in the reporting of the court’s decision.

Wissanu made the extraordinary claim that “the decision does not ‘whitewash’ the PPRP MP’s [Thammanat] standing.”

The Bangkok Post had an Editorial on the decision. It begins by noting that the court’s decision did not surprise: “After all, society has become used to surprises from our judicial system that run contrary to public sentiment.” It is pulling its punches for fear of offending regime and court yet still makes some useful observations:

In layman’s terms, Thai law permits people with a drug conviction in a foreign country to become a politician or hold public office in Thailand — the Land of Smiles and Land of Second Chances — at least in the case of Capt Thamanat.

It notes that the “court ruling might prolong the meteoric political career of Capt Thamanat as a deal maker and de facto manager of the PPRP. Yet it will come with a hefty price for the government and society as a whole.”

It thinks “the government, and especially the PPRP, still have a little leeway to prevent a complete meltdown in public trust and defuse this time bomb.” The Post is grasping at straws.

Many have lost hope:

People are losing confidence in the government of General Prayut Chan-ocha because of their continued mismanagement, corruption, and repression.

They are losing their faith in the justice system which has propped up this regime – a heartless system that would sooner jail students and watch them die than adjudicate impartially.

…This week, the country’s highest court made the situation worse, if that were possible.

The appalling decision to allow a convicted drug dealer to continue as a cabinet minister shows that this government no longer cares about saving face or pretending to be filled with ‘good people.’

The double standards are observed: the regime considers one crime overseas significant: lese majeste. And, what about a justice system that “still sees it fit to hold the students in jail, without bail, under a draconian law…”, but has a former drug trafficker as a minister? It continues:

Thailand is rapidly approaching the borders of becoming a failed state, a joke-nation where the institutions only serve to reinforce the rule of the few and the elections are a sham run by the whims of generals.

There are examples of anger. This op-ed declares the dire need for change:

Thailand is at a crossroads. We have come to that point in every nation’s history where the decisions of today have massive ramifications for tomorrow….

At stake will be who we are as a nation, not who we were, and what we want to aspire to. Centuries old superstition, entrenched governing structures, a destructive military culture, and an impasse between those that want rapid change and those that want to preserve what it is that they think makes Thailand special….

The generals, the drug dealers, the marijuana growers, the promise breakers that were put in government did so on a broken system drafted and put in place by men in army fatigues.

And now we have arrived at the crossroads and there are three choices which will determine what will become of Thailand.

The op-ed calls for “reform” but far more is needed to root out the military and destroy the privileges of crown and oligarchs. Thais need to get off their knees. That’s exactly what the protesters have been demanding.





Further updated: “Justice” kills

6 05 2021

There’s increasing concern about hunger strikers and political prisoners Parit “Penguin” Chiwarak and Panusaya “Rung” Sithijirawattanakul, including well-meaning calls from some for them to not die when seeking justice.

Sadly, it is becoming clear that the regime is callous and savage. More, we know that the king has a say in whether the lese majeste is used or not. We also know that he is savage in dealing with those he thinks have been disrespectful – look at how he has treated his various wives and Vajiralongkorn’s mad and furious tone in his official declarations when he sacks people.

It gets worse. It is now confirmed that another political prisoner, Arnon Nampa, has fallen ill with the Covid virus “and been moved for medical treatment” at the Medical Correctional Institution. The virus appears to be infecting many inmates and may be out of control.

Coronation 1

Arnon is the second political prisoner to have contracted the virus while incarcerated. The first was Chukiat “Justin” Saengwong.

All prisoners are now under threat, but that these political prisoners are at risk is yet another example of the politicization and monarchization of the (in)justice system. After all, the junta’s constitution states at Article 29:

A suspect or defendant in a criminal case shall be presumed innocent, and before the passing of a final judgment convicting a person of having committed an offence, such person shall not be treated as a convict.

In lese majeste cases, there is a presumption of guilt.

The question must be asked again and again: why is that these activists are not receiving justice? What is it or who is it preventing justice? WHo is it who doesn not care if they die? Who is it that relishes this savage and feudal treatment of young Thais?

No wonder hundreds of thousands of young Thais have joined a Facebook group that displays their dismay and that they have lost faith in many of the country’s institutions.

The military, the mafia regime, and the monarchy are destroying the country while they and their friends eat it.

Update1 : Some good news: “The Criminal Court has approved bail for the temporary release of Rassadon co-leader Panusaya ‘Rung’ Sithijirawattanakul on condition that she must not get involved in activities deemed to dishonour the monarchy.” Who knows what the latter condition means.In addition, “she must not join any activity that may cause unrest in the country, leave the country without permission and must report to the court as scheduled.”

The court appeared unable to make a decision without getting advice-cum-orders from on high: “After an inquiry into her bail request on Thursday morning, the court first scheduled handing down the decision at 3pm but later rescheduled it twice to 4pm and 5pm.” We take that delay as confirmation that the court gets it order from the regime and/or the palace.

Update 2: Despite the virus outbreak in prisons and at least two political prisoners already infected, Parit Chiwarak has been transferred “from Ramathibodi Hospital back to prison … after his health improved.” The danger to him is made clear by the courts themselves, which refuse to hear these defendants for fear of the virus. Parit’s court appearance, and that for Chaiamorn Kaewwiboonpan, have been postponed “because the two defendants will not complete their 14-day quarantine until tomorrow. Prison officials said both have to be screened again, to make sure they are clear of the virus, before they will be allowed to attend the hearing.” This amounts to protecting judges and other officials – which is reasonable – but keeping political prisoners in dangerous conditions.





Justice denied

1 05 2021

Wasant Techawongtham at the Bangkok Post has a direct and useful op-ed on the (in)justice system and the contortions required of judges who ignore law and constitution. It is worth reading in full. Here are some bits we think need emphasis.

A request for bail for pro-democracy protesters languishing in jail was rejected for the ninth time on Thursday.

Oddly, the decision by an Appeal Court judge was delivered after hours in one terse sentence as a throng of angry young protesters gathered on the steps of the court house.

One imagines that the delay was caused by the judge needing to get his orders, and we suspect that those orders were considered at the very highest level.

No justice

A number of legal experts have watched the cases with dismay. The infringement of the jailed activists’ rights and the court’s multiple bail denials trouble them.

On bail:

Prinya Thaewanarumitkul, a law professor and a vice rector of Thammasat University, argues that denying bail for cases still pending trial should be the exception, not the norm.

According to the constitution and Article 107 of the Criminal Code, an accused must be assumed innocent during a trial and granted bail unless conditions exist as stipulated by Article 108/1.

Said conditions include: (1) if the accused poses a flight risk; (2) if the accused could interfere with witnesses or evidence; (3) if the accused poses harmful threats; (4) if bail guarantors or bonds are not trustworthy; and (5) if temporary release poses obstacles or harm to ongoing official investigations.

Other reasons often cited to deny bail, such as the charges in question incurring severe penalties, the accused’s conduct is serious, or the accused could repeat the offences, if released, do not fall within the parameters of the law.

Wasant refers to “practices used by the authorities against the jailed protesters [that] are disturbing“:

…Posting a prison official in the room where the lawyer and his client discuss their case is evidently beyond the pale.

Breaches of lawyer-client privilege even took place within the court room as officials insisted on inspecting documents passed between the lawyers and their clients.

One of the most troubling developments … is the barring of all persons, including the mothers and close relatives, except the lawyers and their clients from the court room in recent hearings.

He goes on to refer to “”legal shambles,”the “oppressive weight of an unfair system bent on breaking their spirits and subjugating them…”. It is a system that is unable to dispense justice.





Free Penguin and Rung

26 04 2021

Tyrell Haberkorn and Thongchai Winichakul of the University of Wisconsin-Madison have a call for the release on bail of political prisoners Parit “Penguin” Chiwarak and Panusaya “Rung” Sithijirawattanakul. It is at NikkeiAsia. Read it in full.

Clipped from The Nation

The two have “gone on hunger strike while being detained ahead of their trials in late May for alleged lese-majeste. The pair are refusing nourishment to protest the denial of their right to bail.”

Penguin began his partial hunger strike on 15 March 15 and Rung joined him 15 days later: “The risk to their health grows with each passing day.”

The authors note:

…these activists have not actually insulted, defamed, or threatened the monarchy. Instead, they have dared to call for an open and frank discussion on the place of the monarchy in Thailand — particularly with respect to its relationship with the law, the judiciary, the military and its assets.

Parit faces at least 20 counts of violating Article 112, and Panusaya at least nine. Their sentences for speeches at peaceful protests and social media posts could break records — evidence how afraid the state and the palace are of such discussions.

They point out that the “right to bail is guaranteed under Thai law and by Thailand’s international human rights obligations, but it is routinely denied in Article 112 cases on the grounds of national security and the fact that the harsh penalty makes flight more likely.” By denying bail, they say,the regime “has effectively shut down the protest movement, and instilled fear in those who dare to dissent.” And, authoritarianism deepens.

They conclude:

As each application for bail is denied, it becomes more evident that preventing citizens from openly discussing the monarchy and its role in the Thai polity are to the authorities more important than the lives of citizens. Parit, Panusaya and all the other political detainees must have their bail rights restored.





Penguin’s defiance

20 04 2021

As silent protests against the incarceration of lese majeste victims, Penguin or Parit Chiwarak has shown more defiance as he rejects the (in)justice system.

Thai PBS reports that:

Thailand’s anti-establishment Ratsadon leader Parit “Penguin” Chiwarak declared, before judges of the Criminal Court today (Monday), that he does not recognize the judicial process and will not attend his trial because he has not been accorded justice and granted bail to enable him to find evidence in his defence.

He also directed his lawyers to stand down. His lawyers explained that as “Parit had decided not to be part of the justice process and so the lawyers were of no use.”

Parit

In his defiance of the royalist judiciary, he “refused to take part in a Criminal Court session on Monday that was examining evidence in the lese majeste case against him.”

Parit, on a partial “hunger strike for 30 days, arrived in court in a wheelchair and attached to drips.”

He “refused to accept the 32 witnesses presented by the prosecution and also insisted that his detention was unfair…”, saying that “his detention had prevented him from mounting a full legal defence and that rendered the judicial process unjust.”

Penguin declared that “he would continue to refuse to acknowledge the entire legal case against him until he was released on bail.”

Several other activists – those not in jail – and his family have expressed concern for Penguin’s declining health.

The court rejected another bail request put by his family.





Justice system compromised

17 09 2020

We have been posting about this for years and it will not be news for PPT readers, but a Bangkok Post editorial has said this in reflecting on the Yoovidhya case:

It doesn’t help matters that individuals who were found to have helped the wealthy culprit are heads of organisations, most of whom are top mandarins whose duty is to uphold the rule of law. Their misconduct has shown that Thai law enforcement agencies are nothing but paper tigers….

The public is expecting the unscrupulous officials to at least be punished and the saga to lead to an overhaul of the justice system. Anything less would simply not be acceptable.

As we said in a recent post, the most obvious question is: who paid and/or rewarded these officials to act in the interests of the rich? Will we ever learn the truth? Will those offering the payoffs be charged?

Then there’s the question of double standards. Not only is there a justice system that is essentially up for sale to the rich and influential, but one that has dished out different judicial standards for the supporters of the rich and powerful – and especially the monarchy and military – and those who oppose this corrupt and decaying system. No amount of reform will fix the work that has been done by two military coups, political purges of the bureaucracy, the destruction of the independence of “independent agencies” and devious, elitist judges.