Thailand: Arbitrary detention and judicial harassment of Tantawan Tuatulanon

Ratsadon News

THA 001 / 0422 / OBS 027
Arbitrary detention /
Judicial harassment
Thailand
April 22, 2022

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

Description of the situation:

The Observatory has been informed about the arbitrary detention and judicial harassment of Ms. Tantawan Tuatulanon, a pro-democracy student activist associated with pro-democracy groups Draconis Revolution and Thalu Wang (Shattering the Palace). [1] Tantawan has advocated for the abolition of Article 112 of the Thai Criminal Code (lèse-majesté) and the reform of the Thai monarchy. Tantawan has been charged with various criminal offenses, including violating Article 112 of the Thai Criminal Code in connection with two cases:
- a public opinion poll about royal motorcades, which she conducted at Siam Paragon in central Bangkok on February 8 2022; and
- a live Facebook broadcast along the planned route of a royal motorcade in Bangkok on March 5, 2022.

On April 20, 2022, the Bangkok Criminal Court revoked Tantawan’s bail in relation to her Facebook live case, pursuant to a request by the police from Bangkok’s Nang Loeng police station, which argued that Tantawan’s persistent participation in events in the vicinity of the royal motorcade and the posting of 10 messages concerning royal motorcades on Facebook amounted to violations of her bail conditions.

The Bangkok Criminal Court justified its decision by ruling that the following three actions amounted to violations of the conditions for her release on bail.
Firstly, on April 6, 2022, Tantawan waited for the royal motorcade near the statue of King Taksin the Great in Bangkok’s Khlong San District. However, Tantawan was held back at the COVID-19 screening check-point and could not go near the planned motorcade route.
Secondly, on April 15, 2022, she participated in a protest against officers from the Ministry of Social Development and Human Security, immediately after the officers detained three underage activists at a restaurant near Bangkok’s Democracy Monument, in an attempt to prevent them from creating a commotion as the royal motorcade was scheduled to pass through the area later the same day.
Thirdly, Tantawan posted 10 messages on Facebook about royal motorcade issues.

Tantawan was subsequently taken to the Central Women’s Correctional Institution in Bangkok, where she remained detained at the time of the publication of this Urgent Appeal, pending the conclusion of the investigation. On April 20, 2022, Tantawan began a hunger strike to protest her detention and revocation of bail.

Tantawan was initially charged by police under Article 112 on March 5, 2022, for a Facebook live she broadcast from Bangkok’s Ratchadamnoen Road, through which the royal motorcade was expected to pass on the same day. Police accused Tantawan of using “inappropriate” and “demeaning” language to describe the motorcade, and claimed she insulted officers who were providing security to the motorcade. Tantawan was subsequently taken into custody at Bangkok’s Phayathai police station, which had no jurisdiction over the incident.

On March 6, 2022, Tantawan was charged with five offenses, under the following provisions: Article 112 of the Criminal Code; Article 138 of the Criminal Code (“resisting and threatening a police officer by means of force”); Article 368 of the Criminal Code (“resisting a police officer’s orders”); Article 14(2) of the Computer Crimes Act (“electronically spreading misinformation that could threaten national security”); and Article 14(3) of the Computer Crimes Act (“electronically publishing information that could threaten national security”). Tantawan was subsequently taken into custody at the Narcotics Suppression Division Office of the Narcotics Control Board in Bangkok.

On March 7, 2022, police requested the Bangkok Criminal Court to extend the detention of Tantawan, and objected to her release on bail, arguing that her charges involved serious offenses and that she would pose a flight risk. However, Tantawan was conditionally released on a 100,000 baht (approximately 2,690 Euros) bail. She was also ordered to wear an electronic monitoring (EM) ankle bracelet.

The Observatory expresses its deepest concern about the arbitrary detention and judicial harassment of Tantawan Tuatulanon, which seem to be only aimed at punishing her for her peaceful human rights activities and the exercise of her rights to freedom of expression and freedom of peaceful assembly. The Observatory calls on the Thai authorities to immediately and unconditionally release Tantawan Tuatulanon and to put an end to the judicial harassment against her and all other human rights defenders in the country.

The Observatory notes that between November 24, 2020, and April 22, 2022, 188 people, including many human rights defenders and 15 minors, were charged under Article 112 of the Criminal Code.

Actions requested:

Please write to the authorities of Thailand asking them to:
- guarantee in all circumstances the physical integrity and psychological well-being of Tantawan Tuatulanon and all other human rights defenders and pro-democracy activists in Thailand, and ensure in all circumstances that they are able to carry out their legitimate activities without any hindrance and fear of reprisals;
- immediately and unconditionally release Tantawan Tuatulanon, since her detention is arbitrary as it seems to be merely aimed at punishing her for her human rights activities, as well as all other human rights defenders and pro-democracy activists;
- put an end to all acts of harassment, including at the judicial level, against Tantawan Tuatulanon, and all other human rights defenders and pro-democracy activists in the country;
- guarantee in all circumstances the rights to freedom of expression and of peaceful assembly, as enshrined in international human right law, and particularly in Articles 19 and 21 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights;
- refrain from using Article 112 of the Criminal Code to target human rights defenders and pro-democracy activists.

Addresses:

- Mr. Prayuth Chan-ocha, Prime Minister of Thailand, Email: spmwebsite@thaigov.go.th
- Mr. Don Pramudwinai, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Thailand, Email: minister@mfa.go.th
- Mr. Somsak Thepsutin, Minister of Justice of Thailand, Email: complainingcenter@moj.go.th
- General Narongpan Jitkaewthae, Commander in Chief of the Army, Email: webadmin@rta.mi.th
- Pol Gen Suwat Jangyodsuk, Commissioner-General of the Police, Email: info@royalthaipolice.go.th
- Ms. Pornprapai Ganjanarinte, National Human Rights Commissioner of Thailand, Email: help@nhrc.or.th, info@nhrc.co.th
- H.E. Mr. Sek Wannamethee, Ambassador, Permanent Mission of Thailand to the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland, Email: thaimission.GVA@mfa.mail.go.th
- Embassy of Thailand in Brussels, Belgium, Email: thaibxl@thaiembassy.be

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

***
Paris-Geneva, April 22, 2022

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 the International Federation for Human Rights (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: a ppeals@fidh-omct.org
- Tel FIDH: +33 (0) 1 43 55 25 18
- Tel OMCT: +41 (0) 22 809 49 39

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