Thailand: Acquittal of 6 defenders for their involvement in a peaceful demonstration

20/09/2019
Urgent Appeal
en th

New information
THA 002 / 0118 / OBS 015.2
Acquittal
Judicial harassment/
Restrictions on freedom of peaceful assembly
Thailand
September 20, 2019

The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a joint partnership of FIDH and the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT), has received new information and requests your urgent intervention in the following situation in Thailand.

New information:

The Observatory has been informed by reliable sources about the acquittal of Mr. Sirawit Seritiwat, Ms. Nattha Mahatthana, Ms. Chonticha Jaengrew, Mr. Karn Phongprapaphan, Mr. Sukrit Piansuwan, and human rights lawyer Mr. Anon Nampa for their involvement in a peaceful demonstration held on February 10, 2018 in Bangkok.

All six were charged and prosecuted under Article 116 of the Thai Criminal Code (‘sedition’). They faced up to seven years in prison each (see background information).

According to the information received, on September 20, 2019, at approximately 10:30am, the Bangkok’s Criminal Court found all six defendants not guilty of the sedition charges. The court found that the demonstration was peaceful, there was no chaos, there was no use of weapons, and police had received prior notification of the protest.

The court appearance of a seventh defendant, Mr. Rangsiman Rome, was postponed until mid-2020 in consideration of the parliamentary schedule. Mr. Rangsiman was elected as a member of the House of Representatives in the March 24, 2019 polls.

The seven defendants were among a group of 50 protesters who were also charged with violating Article 12 of National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) Order 3/2015, which banned political gatherings of more than four people. All charges with regard to this alleged violation were dropped following the repeal of Article 12 of NCPO Order 3/2015 on July 9, 2019.

The Observatory welcomes the acquittal of Mr. Sirawit Seritiwat, Ms. Nattha Mahatthana, Ms. Chonticha Jaengrew, Mr. Karn Phongprapaphan, Mr. Sukrit Piansuwan, and Mr. Anon Nampa, but recalls that the six should never have been prosecuted in the first place.

Background information:

On February 10, 2018, Mr. Sirawit Seritiwat, Ms. Nattha Mahatthana, Ms. Chonticha Jaengrew, Mr. Rangsiman Rome, Mr. Karn Phongprapaphan, Mr. Sukrit Piansuwan, and Mr. Anon Nampa participated in a peaceful demonstration near Bangkok’s Democracy Monument, to call for the NCPO to hold a general election before the end of 2018.

On February 13, 2018, Colonel Burin Thongprapai, acting on behalf of the now dissolved-NCPO, filed a complaint at Bangkok’s Nang Lueng police station against 50 participants, including the seven above-mentioned human rights defenders.

Actions requested:

Please write to the authorities of Thailand asking them to:

i. Put an end to all acts of harassment, including at the judicial level, against Mr. Sirawit Seritiwat, Ms. Nattha Mahatthana, Ms. Chonticha Jaengrew, Mr. Karn Phongpraphan, Mr. Sukrit Piansuwan, Mr. Anon Nampa and Mr. Rangsiman Rome, as well as all human rights defenders in Thailand;

ii. Ensure in all circumstances that human rights defenders in Thailand are able to carry out their legitimate activities without any hindrance or fear of reprisals;

iii. Guarantee in all circumstances the right to freedom of peaceful assembly as enshrined in Article 20 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and Article 21 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights;

iv. Comply with all the provisions of the United Nations Declaration on Human Rights Defenders adopted by the UN General Assembly on December 9, 1998, in particular with its Articles 1, and 12;

v. Ensure in all circumstances respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms in accordance with international human rights standards and international instruments to which Thailand is a state party.

Addresses:

• Prayuth Chan-ocha, Prime Minister of Thailand, Fax: +66 (0) 2 282 5131
• Don Pramudwinai, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Thailand, Fax: +66 (0) 2 643 5320; Email: minister@mfa.go.th
• Somsak Thepsutin, Minister of Justice of Thailand, Fax: +66 (0) 2 953 0503
• Pol Gen Chaktip Chaijinda, Commissioner-General of the Royal Thai Police, Fax: +66 (0) 2 251 5956 / +66 (0) 2 251 8702
• Mr. Wat Tingsamit, Chairperson of the National Human Rights Commission of Thailand, Email: help@nhrc.or.th
• H.E. Mr. Thani Thongphakdi, Ambassador, Permanent Mission of Thailand to the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland, Fax: +41 22 715 10 00 / 10 02; Email: mission.thailand@ties.itu.int
• Embassy of Thailand in Brussels, Belgium, Fax: +32 2 648 30 66; Email: thaibxl@pophost.eunet.be

Please also write to the diplomatic representations of Thailand in your respective countries.

***

Paris-Geneva, September 20, 2019

Kindly inform us of any action undertaken quoting the code of this appeal in your reply.

The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders (the Observatory) was created in 1997 by FIDH and the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT). The objective of this programme is to prevent or remedy situations of repression against human rights defenders. FIDH and OMCT are both members of ProtectDefenders.eu, the European Union Human Rights Defenders Mechanism implemented by international civil society.
 
To contact the Observatory, call the emergency line:
• E-mail: Appeals@fidh-omct.org
• Tel and fax FIDH +33 (0) 1 43 55 25 18 / +33 1 43 55 18 80
• Tel and fax OMCT +41 (0) 22 809 49 39 / +41 22 809 49 29

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