Don’t forget the lese majeste prisoners

23 03 2014

112.jpgreport at he Bangkok Post: of a timely gathering of relatives and students in support of lese majeste prisoners has “called on the public to pay attention to the plight of people convicted of violating lese majeste laws.”

Some 50 activists as well as relatives of lese majeste prisoner Somyos Prueksakasemsuk “gathered at the Bangkok Remand Prison where they paid a visit to Somyot, the former editor of the Voice of Thaksin magazine.”

As well as supporting lese majeste prisoners and drawing attention to the repressive lese majeste law, the activists campaign for the release of Somyos who was sentenced to 11 years in prison and is still appealing his conviction.

Aum Neko, who is about to front police on a politically-inspired summons on lese majeste attended the protest, highlighting case like Somyos, Darunee Charncheonsilapakul, serving 15 years and in prison since 2008, and the death in jail of lese majeste prisoner Ampol Tangnopakul.





ALRC, lese majeste and the UN

26 02 2014

Reproduced in full:

ALRC-CWS-25-07-2014
February 24, 2014

HUMAN RIGHTS COUNCIL
Twenty fifth session, Agenda Item 3, General Debate

A written submission to the UN Human Rights Council by the Asian Legal Resource Centre

THAILAND: Legal and Extralegal Threats to Freedom of Expression

1. The Asian Legal Resource Centre (ALRC) wishes to raise grave concerns about the intensification of legal and extralegal threats to freedom of expression in Thailand. Carried out in the name of protecting the monarchy, this range of threats constitutes the entrenchment of the normalization of the violation of human rights and curtailment of freedom of expression. This statement is the eighth on this topic that the ALRC has submitted to the Council since May 2011. During the seventeenth session of the Council in May 2011, the ALRC highlighted the rise in the legal and unofficial use of Article 112 of the Criminal Code and the 2007 Computer Crimes Act (CCA) to constrict freedom of expression and intimidate citizens critical of the monarchy (A/HRC/17/NGO/27). During the nineteenth session in February 2012, the ALRC detailed some of the threats faced both by those who have expressed critical views of the monarchy, both legal and extralegal, as well as those who have expressed concern about these threats (A/HRC/19/NGO/55). During the twentieth session in June 2012, the ALRC raised concerns about the weak evidentiary basis of convictions made under Article 112 and the CCA (A/HRC/20/NGO/37) and the concerning conditions surrounding the death in prison custody of Amphon Tangnoppakul on 8 May 2012, then serving a 20-year sentence for four alleged violations of Article 112 and the CCA (A/HRC/20/NGO/38). During the twenty-second session in March 2013, the ALRC highlighted the January 2013 conviction under Article 112 of human rights defender and labour rights activist Somyot Prueksakasemsuk (A/HRC/22/NGO/44). During the twenty-third session in June 2013, the ALRC emphasized the regularization of the crisis of freedom of expression, and noted that constriction of speech had become constitutive of political and social life in Thailand (A/HRC/23/NGO/42). During the twenty-fourth session in October 2013, the ALRC emphasized the dangers of the normalization of the violation of human rights in the name of protecting the monarchy (A/HRC/24/NGO/35).

2. Over the course of the prior seven statements, the ALRC first noted with surprise the active use of measures to constrict speech, then tracked the expansion of this use, and finally, the entrenchment of the foreclosure of freedom of speech. The ALRC is again raising the issue of freedom of expression with the Council because the law has continued to be actively used to violate the right to freedom of expression and extralegal threats to freedom of expression, and human rights broadly, have emerged in Thailand. In the statement submitted to the Council in October 2013, the ALRC warned that the routine denial of bail and the use of vague references to national security to attempt to legitimize the violation of the human rights of those with dissident views had become normalized. In this statement, the ALRC wishes to alert the Human Rights Council to ongoing developments that indicate the urgency, and growing difficulty, of addressing the crisis of freedom of expression in Thailand.

3. There are two primary laws that are used to both legally constrict freedom of speech in Thailand and create a broad climate of fear for those who hold dissenting opinions. Article 112 of the Criminal Code criminalizes criticism of the monarchy and mandates that, “Whoever defames, insults or threatens the King, Queen, the Heir-apparent or the Regent, shall be punished with imprisonment of three to fifteen years.” The 2007 Computer Crimes Act (CCA), which was promulgated as part of Thailand’s compliance as a signatory to the United Nations Convention Against Transnational Organized Crime, has been used to target web editors and websites identified as critical of the monarchy or dissident in other ways. The CCA provides for penalties of up to five years per count in cases that are judged to have involved the dissemination or hosting of information deemed threatening to national security, of which the institution of the monarchy is identified as a key part. While Article 112 has been part of the Criminal Code since the last major revision in 1957, available statistics suggest that there has been a dramatic increase in the number of complaints filed since the 19 September 2006 coup; how often these complaints become formal charges and lead to prosecutions is information that the Government of Thailand has continuously failed to provide up to the present. The CCA has often been used in combination with Article 112 in the seven years since its promulgation; similar to the use of Article 112, the Government of Thailand has not made complete usage information available. This failure to make information public about the frequency and conditions of use of both laws creates fear and diminishes the space for freedom of expression through the use of secrecy and creation of uncertainty.

4. In addition to the continued use of the law to constrict speech, recent events indicate that there is an increase in the potential for extralegal violence against those who hold dissident views. During the statement submitted to the nineteenth session (A/HRC/19/NGO/55) in March 2012, the ALRC warned the Council about the threats made against members of the Khana Nitirat, a group of progressive legal academics at Thammasat University who proposed reform of Article 112. In response, hundreds of threats were posted online against the group, calling for the members to be attacked, killed, beheaded, and burned alive. Subsequently, one of the members of the group, Professor Worachet Pakeerut, was assaulted outside his office at Thammasat by two young men who later told the police that they attacked him because they disagreed with his ideas.

5. On February 12, 2014, an attack on another progressive academic, Professor Somsak Jeamteerasakul, a history professor at Thammasat University and outspoken political and cultural critic, indicates a renewed increase in the permissive climate for extralegal intimidation and violence of those who hold dissenting opinions. Two assailants fired repeated gunshots at the home and car of Professor Somsak. Although he did not sustain any physical injuries, the damage to his car and house indicate that the violence was intended to be deadly. The attack took place during the day, while Professor Somsak was at home, which lends further credence to the idea that the perpetrators intended to inflict harm or death and that they were unconcerned with being seen.

6. Professor Somsak Jeamteerasakul’s writing and teaching have inspired many students and citizens to carefully examine the past, present, and persecution of the powerless by the powerful in Thailand. His criticism often makes those in power uncomfortable, and there has been an attempt to use Article 112 to curtail his speech. In April 2011, a police investigation began against him in relation to a complaint likely made in relation to comments he made in article about a Princess Chulabhorn’s (one of the daughters of the current Thai king) appearance on a talk show. This case is still ongoing, even though Article 112 does not apply to Princess Chulabhorn, and so there is no legal restriction of comments made about her. In early February 2014, the deputy spokesman of the Royal Thai Army commented that the Army plans to file additional complaints of violations of Article 112 against Professor Somsak in relation to comments he posted on the social media website Facebook.

7. The ALRC is particularly concerned that the violent attack on Professor Somsak has come so close following the comments of the deputy spokesman of the Royal Thai Army regarding further proceedings under Article 112 against him. While the identities and motivations of the attackers remain unknown pending police investigation, the temporal link to the formal and legal action taken against him by the Royal Thai Army is striking. In addition, given the severe polarization in Thai society which began when the protracted protests against the elected government began in November 2013, this extralegal attack on Professor Somsak is a further indication of the ongoing breakdown of the rule of law in Thailand.

8. The ALRC would like to remind the Thai government that they are a state party to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and are bound to uphold the human rights principles named therein. In particular, the ALRC would like to call on the Thai state to uphold Article 19 of the ICCPR, in particular, paragraph 1, which guarantees that, “Everyone shall have the right to hold opinions without interference,” and paragraph 2, which guarantees that, “Everyone shall have the right to freedom of expression; this right shall include freedom to seek, receive and impart information and ideas of all kinds, regardless of frontiers, either orally, in writing or in print, in the form of art, or through any other media of his choice.” It is imperative that the Thai state’s protection of the rights guaranteed in Article 19 and the remainder of the ICCPR be active, rather than passive. Upholding the ICCPR necessarily entails protecting those whose views are dissident and ensuring that they can safely exercise their political freedom. Failure to do so will signal to vigilante actors that attacking those who hold different views are acceptable within the Thai polity.

9. The ALRC would also like to remind the Government of Thailand that under Article 19 of the ICCPR, restrictions on the right to freedom of expression are only permissible under two circumstances: “for respect of the rights or reputations of others” and “for the protection of national security or of public order (ordre public), or of public health or morals.” Although Article 112 is classified as a crime against national security within the Criminal Code of Thailand, and this, along with the need to protect the monarchy, is frequently cited by the Government of Thailand when faced with the criticism that the measure is in tension with the ICCPR, a precise explanation of the logic for categorizing the measure as such has not been provided to date. Until this explanation is provided, the constriction of freedom of expression is arbitrary and contributes to a climate hostile to human rights.

10. The ALRC is gravely concerned about the ongoing legal and extralegal threats to freedom of expression in Thailand, and their effects on human rights, justice, and the rule of law in Thailand. The intensification of extralegal threats to dissenting citizens’ rights and lives as indicated by the February 2014 attack on Professor Somsak Jeamteerasakul represents a new point of crisis in the longstanding climate of constriction of political freedom in Thailand.

11. In view of the above, the Asian Legal Resource Center calls on the UN Human Rights Council to:

a. Call on the Government of Thailand to ensure that a full investigation into the attack on Professor Somsak Jeamteerasakul is carried out and bring the men who shot at his house and car to justice;
b. Call on the Government of Thailand to release all those convicted or facing charges under Article 112 and the 2007 Computer Crimes Act. At a minimum, those currently being held should immediately be granted bail while their cases are in the Criminal or Appeal Courts;
c. Demand that the Government of Thailand revoke Article 112 of the Criminal Code and the 2007 Computer Crimes Act;
d. Urge the Government of Thailand to allow and support the full exercise of freedom of expression and political freedom, consistent with the terms of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, to which it is a signatory, and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which it is a state party, and;
e. Request the Special Rapporteur on the freedom of opinion and expression to continue ongoing monitoring and research about the broad situation of constriction of rights and individual cases in Thailand; and, the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention to continue to monitor and report on those cases of persons arbitrarily detained under Article 112.

About the ALRC: The Asian Legal Resource Centre is an independent regional non-governmental organisation holding general consultative status with the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations. It is the sister organisation of the Asian Human Rights Commission. The Hong Kong-based group seeks to strengthen and encourage positive action on legal and human rights issues at the local and national levels throughout Asia.

Read this online from AHRC

25th Session of the UN Human Rights Council – AHRC

Read this online from ALRC

25th Session of the UN Human Rights Council – ALRC





Fearing Somsak

15 02 2014

In reading an op-ed by Kong Rithdee at the Bangkok Post, we at PPT were reminded that lese majeste is about something more than the display of loyalty-expressed-as-hatred that is usually associated with ultra-royalist responses to what they define as an attack of the “revered institution.”

Bombings, shooting, threats, stalking, social media campaigns and long jail sentences have all been associated with those considered to have trespassed beyond the invisible yet  constantly moving boundaries of what is “acceptable” on the monarchy for royalist extremists. Kong refers to some of these nasty witch hunts in the context of the recent attack on historian Somsak Jeamteerasakul, led by the Army and then followed up by gunmen in support of the military and/or unknown royalist fascists.

Kong refers to “thoughtcrime in the land of crooked smiles…”. He observes:

It’s a cruel irony that while everyone — of all colours and inclinations — is parroting the true worth of democracy, we’re also living in a time when thinking and writing can be a crime. Hit-and-run suspects get bail (remember the Red Bull heir?), suspected murderers get bail (remember Kamnan Poh?), but thinking aloud on highly sensitive topics, like Mr Somsak did, could get unknown thugs firing at your house, or get you thrown in jail without bail — like Somyot Prueksakasemsuk was after he was convicted under Section 112.

Why is this? We think it is because Somyos, Somsak and other like them generate tremendous fear in their opponents.

The fear is that the emperor will be seen to be naked.

The fear that if the monarchy is seen for what it really is – a dysfunctional family that has been politically and economically rapacious – will quickly undermine the hierarchical system where the monarchy is a keystone institution. If it is undone, politically or ideologically, they fear that the royalist system will also collapse.

They fear that their regime of control and repression is brittle.

Protecting against these fears requires fascism, horrendous repression and hatred.

This is a fear that makes for a royalist elite nightmare. It is a nightmare they deserve.

 

 

 





Lese majeste aired in Geneva

12 09 2013

There are two reports regarding Thailand’s lese majeste law and the meeting of the U.N.’s Human Rights Council that deserve attention.

The first is from the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH), and details growing concerns raised at the HRC about Southeast Asian governments and:

… the use of national security, anti-terrorist and defamation laws to limit freedom of expression on the Internet, a coalition of international and local NGOs and activists from Vietnam, Thailand and Cambodia urged governments to stop using vague legislation based on ill-defined concepts such as “national security”, “sovereignty” or “lèse-majesté” to intimidate, harass and imprison independent voices. Speaking at an event in Geneva, which coincides with the 24th session of the UN Human Rights Council, FIDH, IFEX, Article 19 and PEN International united to call for the urgent revision of these laws to bring them into line with international human rights standards.

Independent and dissenting voices, including bloggers and netizens, journalists, activists and human rights defenders, have increasingly been subjected to repression in Southeast Asia.Polit prisoners

On Thailand, the report states:

The Thai authorities have mostly been using the lèse-majesté law (Article 112 of the Criminal Code, which punishes any word or deed which “defames, insults or threatens the King [...]”) and the 2007 Computer Crimes Act to lock up journalists and critics. The most notorious case is that of Somyot Prueksakasemsuk, who was sentenced to ten years in prison for authorizing the publication, as editor, of two articles that were considered insulting to the royal family. Ironically, Somyot was arrested just a few days after launching an online petition calling for a review of Article 112. “In its commitment to cooperate with the UN, Thailand needs to go beyond words, immediately release Somyot and protect the right to freedom of expression of all citizens”, said Somyot’s wife, Sukanya.

The second is related and is from the Clean Clothes Campaign. This group has joined with the Free Somyot Campaign and the Thai Labour Campaign, and adds more pressure regarding Somyos, with his wife in Geneva and campaigning for bail for her husband. The report states:

Somyot is a prisoner of conscience…. The verdict [against him] undermines the right to freedom of expression and press freedom. It is a violation of international human rights law, in particularly the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), which Thailand has ratified. In August 2012, the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention declared Somyot’s detention to be in violation of international human rights law. The EU and the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights have also issued strong statements against the verdict.

Despite the efforts both by his family and the ongoing international campaigns which call for Somyot’ release, Somyot’s 15th bail application has been denied.

Sukunya says:

“If Thailand is to be in compliance with its binding international legal obligations to respect and protect basic rights, this unjust verdict against Somyot should be promptly overturned on appeal. Additionally, while the appeal is being considered, his constitutional right to provisional release should be upheld so that he could reunite with me, his family. This will also better his medical conditions and at home he can adequately prepare for his defense. Every political prisoner is one too many.

The Clean Clothes Campaign called on Thailand to:

free Somyot and all other persons detained on politically-motivated charges and end all forms of harassment against them to ensure that no one would be criminalised for peacefully exercising their fundamental freedoms, including freedom of expression.





The Normalization of the Violation of Human Rights in the Name of Protecting the Monarchy

1 09 2013

As usual, the Asian Legal Resource Centre gets it right and PPT can do no better than post their statement. Our only question is the number of known cases in jail (convicted or awaiting trial). Our count is six. In addition, we do not know what has happened in the case of Thitinant Kaewchantanont, who was held in a mental hospital. Nor do we know how many cases there are that remain secret or unreported:

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
August 30, 2013
ALRC-CWS-24-02-2013

Language(s): English only

HUMAN RIGHTS COUNCIL

Twenty-fourth session, Agenda Item 3, General Debate

A written statement submitted by the Asian Legal Resource Centre (ALRC), a non-governmental organisation with general consultative status

THAILAND: The Normalization of the Violation of Human Rights in the Name of Protecting the Monarchy

1. The Asian Legal Resource Centre (ALRC) wishes to raise concerns about the normalization of the violation of human rights in the name of protecting the monarchy in Thailand with the Human Rights Council. This statement is the seventh on this topic that the ALRC has submitted to the Council since May 2011. During the seventeenth session of the Council in May 2011, the ALRC highlighted the rise in the legal and unofficial use of Article 112 of the Criminal Code and the 2007 Computer Crimes Act (CCA) to constrict freedom of expression and intimidate citizens critical of the monarchy (A/HRC/17/NGO/27). During the nineteenth session in February 2012, the ALRC detailed some of the threats faced both by those who have expressed critical views of the monarchy, both legal and extralegal, as well as those who have expressed concern about these threats (A/HRC/19/NGO/55). During the twentieth session in June 2012, the ALRC raised concerns about the weak evidentiary basis of convictions made under Article 112 and the CCA (A/HRC/20/NGO/37) and the concerning conditions surrounding the death in prison custody of Amphon Tangnoppakul on 8 May 2012, then serving a 20-year sentence for four alleged violations of Article 112 and the CCA (A/HRC/20/NGO/38). During the twenty-second session in March 2013, the ALRC highlighted the January 2013 conviction under Article 112 of human rights defender and labour rights activist Somyot Prueksakasemsuk (A/HRC/22/NGO/44). During the twenty-third session in June 2013, the ALRC emphasized the regularization of the crisis of freedom of expression in Thailand, and noted that constriction of speech had become constitutive of political and social life in Thailand (A/HRC/23/NGO/42).

2. Over the course of the prior six statements, the ALRC first noted with surprise the active use of measures to constrict speech, then tracked the expansion of this use, and finally, the entrenchment of the foreclosure of freedom of speech. The ALRC is again raising the issue of freedom of expression with the Council in order to ensure that the regularization of this threat to human rights does not lead to it being normalized or forgotten. In the statement submitted to the Council in June 2013, the ALRC cautioned that current conditions threatened to normalize the routine denial of bail to individuals awaiting trial and appeal, the provision of substandard medical care in prisons, and the use of secrecy to restrict the openness of trials and public information about ongoing cases. In this statement, the ALRC wishes to alert the Human Rights Council to ongoing developments that lend weight to these concerns and underscore the urgency of addressing the crisis of freedom of expression in Thailand.

3. Article 112 criminalizes criticism of the monarchy and mandates that, “Whoever defames, insults or threatens the King, Queen, the Heir-apparent or the Regent, shall be punished with imprisonment of three to fifteen years.” The 2007 CCA, which was promulgated as part of Thailand’s compliance as a signatory to the United Nations Convention Against Transnational Organized Crime, has been used to target web editors and websites identified as critical of the monarchy or dissident in other ways. The CCA provides for penalties of up to five years per count in cases which are judged to have involved the dissemination or hosting of information deemed threatening to national security, of which the institution of the monarchy is identified as a key part. While Article 112 has been part of the Criminal Code since the last major revision in 1957, available statistics suggest that there has been a dramatic increase in the number of complaints filed since the 19 September 2006 coup; how often these complaints become formal charges and lead to prosecutions is information that the Government of Thailand has continuously failed to provide up to the present. The CCA has often been used in combination with Article 112 in the four years since its promulgation; similar to the use of Article 112, complete usage information has not been made available by the Government of Thailand. This failure to provide information creates fear and diminishes the space for freedom of expression through the use of secrecy and creation of uncertainty.

4. At present, there are 4 persons known to be serving prison terms for alleged violations of Article 112 and/or the CCA and 1 person behind bars while undergoing trial.

a. Daranee Charnchoengsilpakul was convicted of violations of Article 112 related to 55 minutes of speech and sentenced to 18 years in prison on 28 August 2009. Following examination of her case by the Constitutional Court, her sentenced was reduced to 15 years in December 2011. The Appeal Court upheld her conviction and sentence in May 2013.

b. Surachai Sae Dan (Danwattananusorn) was convicted of a series of violations of Article 112 related to political speeches he made and sentenced to a total of 12.5 years in prison in a series of cases in 2012. He has submitted a request for a royal pardon and is awaiting the outcome.

c. Somyot Prueksakasemsuk was convicted of violations of Article 112 related to his work in editing and publishing Voice of Taksin magazine, which was deemed to include two anti-monarchy articles (written by someone else) and sentenced to a total of 11 years in prison on 23 January 2013 (10 years on Article 112-related charges and 1 year related to a prior case). He has submitted an appeal to the Appeal Court and is currently awaiting a decision.

d. Ekachai Hongkangwan was convicted of violations of Article 112 related to selling VCDs of an ABC Australia documentary and copies of WikiLeaks material and sentenced to 3 years and 4 months in prison on 28 March 2013. He has submitted an appeal to the Appeal Court and is currently awaiting a decision.

e. Yutthapoom (last name withheld) has been held in the Bangkok Remand Prison since 19 September 2012 on charges of violating Article 112 following a complaint submitted by his older brother related to a conversation they had while watching television at home. The witness hearings in his case began on 20 August 2013, after he endured 333 days of pre-trial detention.

6. Common to these 5 cases is that the individuals involved have repeatedly been denied bail, always on the grounds that their crimes are too grave a threat to national security to permit even temporary release, despite full cooperation of all parties in investigation and prosecution. Although some individuals were granted bail while awaiting trial, upon conviction they were all denied bail, despite ongoing processes of appeal. This is in contravention to Article 9(3) of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), to which Thailand is a state party, which specifies: “Anyone arrested or detained on a criminal charge shall be brought promptly before a judge or other officer authorized by law to exercise judicial power and shall be entitled to trial within a reasonable time or to release. It shall not be the general rule that persons awaiting trial shall be detained in custody, but release may be subject to guarantees to appear for trial, at any other stage of the judicial proceedings, and, should occasion arise, for execution of the judgment.”

7. To raise one notable example of the denial of bail, Somyot Prueksakasemsuk (5c above), submitted his 15th request for bail on 24 July 2013. Along with the application, approximately 152,000 USD of property deeds were submitted as security with the request. On 26 July 2013, the Appeal Court denied the request. The justification offered was that as Somyot had been sentenced to a prison term greater than 10 years, if he was released, there was a danger that he might flee. The Appeal Court further noted that, “The actions of the defendant impacted public order and the feelings of the people,” and so his release on bail was not warranted.

8. Bail is routinely granted during trials and after conviction while awaiting appeal in cases of committing violent crimes in Thailand, but routinely denied for cases involving freedom of speech. To offer one example, on 30 July 2012, in Black Case No. 3252/2552, 3466/2552, the Criminal Court found five police officers guilty of brutally murdering Kiettisak Thitboonkrong, age 17, in 2004 as part of the so-called “War on Drugs,” in which close to 3000 people were extrajudicially killed across Thailand. Three of the police offers were found guilty of premeditated murder and hiding a corpse and sentenced to death. One police officer was found guilty of premeditated murder and sentenced to life imprisonment. One police officer was found guilty of abusing his authority to aid in protecting his subordinates from criminal prosecution and sentenced to seven years’ imprisonment. All five police officers were granted bail while they appeal their conviction. In all but one of these instances, the police were sentenced to longer prison terms than Somyot Prueksakasemsuk, yet they were granted bail. Given the explanation by the Appeal Court when they denied Somyot’s request that the length of his sentence meant that he might flee and that his crime impacted public order, granting the police officers bail seems strange. In the absence of an explanation from the Court, this collection of actions suggests that constricting dissident speech and protecting the monarchy are more important to the Thai state than ensuring accountability for extrajudicial violence committed against citizens by state actors.

9. The ALRC is gravely concerned about the effects of the ongoing entrenchment of the constriction of freedom of expression on human rights, justice, and the rule of law in Thailand. The frequency of the exercise of the draconian Article 112 and CCA risks the naturalization and normalization of violations of rights and the constriction of speech and political freedom. The ALRC would like to remind the Government of Thailand that under Article 19 of the ICCPR, restrictions on the right to freedom of expression are only permissible under two circumstances: “for respect of the rights or reputations of others” and “for the protection of national security or of public order (ordre public), or of public health or morals.” While measure 112 is classified as a crime against national security within the Criminal Code of Thailand, and this, along with the need to protect the monarchy, is frequently cited by the Government of Thailand when faced with the criticism that the measure is in tension with the ICCPR, a precise explanation of the logic for categorizing the measure as such has not been provided to date. Until this explanation is provided, the constriction of freedom of expression is arbitrary.

10. In view of the above, the Asian Legal Resource Center calls on the UN Human Rights Council to:

  1. Call on the Government of Thailand to release all those convicted or facing charges under Article 112 and the 2007 Computer Crimes Act. At a minimum, those currently being held should immediately be granted bail while their cases are in the Criminal or Appeal Courts.
  2. Demand that the Government of Thailand revoke Article 112 of the Criminal Code and the 2007 Computer Crimes Act.
  3. Urge the Government of Thailand to allow and support the full exercise of freedom of expression and political freedom, consistent with the terms of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, to which it is a signatory, and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which it is a state party.
  4. Request the Special Rapporteur on the freedom of opinion and expression to continue ongoing monitoring and research about the brought situation of constriction of rights and individual cases in Thailand; and, the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention to continue to monitor and report on those cases of persons arbitrarily detained under Article 112.

# # #

About the ALRC: The Asian Legal Resource Centre is an independent regional non-governmental organisation holding general consultative status with the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations. It is the sister organisation of the Asian Human Rights Commission. The Hong Kong-based group seeks to strengthen and encourage positive action on legal and human rights issues at the local and national levels throughout Asia.

Read this online from AHRC

24th Session of the UN Human Rights Council – AHRC

Read this online from ALRC

24th Session of the UN Human Rights Council – ALRC

—————————–

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Web: humanrights.asia
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Court documents on Somyos

10 08 2013

somyosWe thought that those who can read Thai might be interested in the court documents related to the 15th appeal for bail by Somyos Prueksakasemsuk. Convicted of lese majeste in a royalist kangaroo court, his rights have been repeatedly violated by the judicial system.

PPT has posted two documents as PDFs at the page we maintain on his case.





15th bail request rejected

2 08 2013

At the Bangkok Post it is reported that the Appeals Court has rejected Somyos Preuksakasemsuk’s 15th request for bail has been rejected. The court ruled that, if bailed, Somyos would flee Thailand. The report adds:

The Appeals Court said this case involved a serious offence that hurt people’s feelings and undermined peace and stability in the society, and since he had already been sentenced to 10 years in prison, there was a clear possibility that the defendant would try to escape.

The court is denying Somyos his rights, as it has done for more than two years.

 





News on Somyos and Surachai

23 07 2013

In the all too depressing lese majeste cases of Somyos Prueksakasemsuk and Surachai Danwattananusorn, The Nation reports on some developments, neither likely to reduce the gloom.

Somyos is about to apply for bail again on Wednesday. This is his 15th application.

His wife Sukunya Prueksakasemsuk says that this time his application is supported “by signatures of members of the public who support the request along with an increased bond to guarantee that her husband will not run away.” The family is now putting up 3.7 million baht, being all the property they own.

In Surachai’s case, the situation is especially bleak. At 71, Surachai is not in great health, and has been awaiting a royal pardon.

However, the Department of Special Investigation (DSI) has now said “they were waiting to press another lese majeste charge against him.” His wife reports that:

… Surachai, leader of Red Siam faction of the red shirts, was very upset and felt betrayed by the ruling Pheu Thai Party, whom he had supported. The possible charge relates to a speech by Surachai in Chiang Mai province in February 2011.

In these cases it is impossible to discern why it is that these two men – along with Darunee Charnchoensilpakul – have been selected for especially harsh punishment on lese majeste charges. PPT suspects it is because, as radical leaders, they are singled out as examples of the punishment that awaits political activists who challenge the monarchy and its role anchoring elite rule in Thailand.





Another bail request

16 07 2013

The Bangkok Post reports that the “family and lawyer of lese majeste prisoner Somyot Prueksakasemsuk will file a 15th bail request for him on Friday.” Yes, folks, you read that right! Fifteen applications for bail before the royalist courts!

As PPT has stated many times previously, the continued refusal of bail amounts to torture. And it isn’t just PPT saying this. In late August 2012, the UN’s Working Group on Arbitrary Detention was asked to provide an opinion on the detention of Somyos without bail. In mid-October it issued an Opinion, stating that:

The deprivation of liberty of Mr Prueksakasemsuk, being in contravention of Articles 19 of the UDHR [Universal Declaration of Human Rights] and 19 (2) of the ICCPR [International Covenant of Civil and Political Rights], is arbitrary, and falls in categories II of the categories applicable to the cases submitted to the Working Group.

As a result of the Opinion rendered, the Working Group requests the Government to take the necessary steps to remedy the situation of Mr Prueksaksemsuk and bring it into conformity with the standards and principles set forth in the ICCPR.

The Working Group believes that, taking into account all circumstances of the case, the adequate remedy would be to release Mr Prueksakasemsuk and accord him and enforceable right to compensation pursuant to Article 9(5) of the ICCPR.

The full Opinion is available here as a PDF.

Sentenced to 11 years jail for being an editor of a magazine that published pieces considered lese majeste, Somyos has now been in jail since 30 April 2011.





Somyos, lese majeste and bail: a discussion

7 07 2013

For those in Bangkok:

ขอเชิญร่วมงานแถลงข่าวความคืบหน้าการดำเนินคดีมาตรา112 ต่อนายสมยศ พฤกษาเกษมสุข และ เวทีเสวนา “อดีต ปัจจุบัน และอนาคตของมาตรา112 กับสิทธิการประกันตัว”

วันที่ 14 กรกฎาคม 2556 เวลา 13.00 – 16.30 น. ณ ห้องจันทาพร ชั้น 1 โรงแรมกานต์มณีพาเลซ ถ.ประดิพัทธ์ กรุงเทพฯ

13.30 – 14.00 แถลงข่าวผลการพิจารณาคำร้องขอประกันตัวนายสมยศ พฤกษาเกษมสุขทั้ง 14 ครั้ง และการดำเนินการขอประกันตัว ชั่วคราวครั้งต่อไป โดย นางสุกัญญา พฤกษาเกษมสุข ภรรยา นายวสันต์ พานิช ทนายความ

14.00-14.15 ถาม-ตอบ

14.15 – 16.00 เวทีเสวนา “อดีต ปัจจุบัน และอนาคตของมาตรา 112 กับสิทธิการประกันตัว”

โดย นายวสันต์ พานิช ผู้อำนวยการสถาบันพัฒนานักกฎหมายและสิทธิมนุษยชน

ศ.ดร.ธงชัย วินิจจะกูล นักประวัติศาสตร์และอดีตนักโทษทางการเมือง

ตัวแทนคณะกรรมการสิทธิมนุษยชนแห่งชาติ*

ดำเนินรายการ โดย ผศ.ดร.นฤมล ทับจุมพล คณะรัฐศาสตร์ จุฬาลงกรณ์มหาวิทยาลัย

16.00 – 16.30 ถาม-ตอบ

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*อยู่ระหว่างการประสานงาน สอบถามรายเอียดเพิ่มเติม ติดต่อ

คุณสุวรรณา ตาลเหล็ก โทร.089 5007232

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PRESS CONFERENCE: “The Next Step of Somyot Prueksakasemsuk’s Trial and PANEL DISCUSSION: “Past, Present and Future of Lese Majeste Law and the Right to Bail”

14 July 2013, 13.30 – 16.30 hrs.

Jantaporn Room, 1st Floor, Karnmanee Palace Hotel, Pradiphat Road, Bangkok

PROGRAMME

13.30 – 14.00 Press Conference “The Latest Development of Somyot’s Trial, the Rejections of Bail Requests, and the Next Step.”

by  Mrs. Sukanya Prueksakasemsuk, Wife and Mr.Vasant Panich, Lawyer

14.00 – 14.15 Questions and Answers

14.15 – 16.00 Panel Discussion: “Past, Present and Future of Lese Majeste Law and the Right to Bail”

Panelists:

Mr. Vasant Panich, Executive Director, Institute for Jurists and Human Rights Development – JUSTRIGHTS

Dr. Thongchai Winichakul, Historian and former political prisoner

A Representative from National Human Rights Commission of Thailand* TBC

Moderator:

Dr. Naruemon Thabchumpon, Faculty of Political Science, Chulalongkorn University

16.00 – 16.30 Questions and Answers

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The event will be conducted in Thai, if you require English translation please contact:

Sukanya Tel: 081 8475132 or Panitan Tel: 086 660 0270








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