The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a joint programme 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 by reliable sources about the acts of intimidation and judicial harassment of Ms. Thaweeporn Kummetha (a.k.a. Am), a reporter of the online news website Prachatai and a defender of freedom of expression and the right to access information in Thailand.
According to the information received, on October 22, 2015, an unidentified person from the ruling military junta, the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO), called Ms. Thaweeporn on her cell phone and summoned her for questioning on October 26, stating that he was not satisfied with an article, which had been published by Prachatai on October 21, 2015. The Thai language article, authored by Ms. Thaweeporn, had accompanied an infographic that listed possible actions that could be deemed illegal under Article 112 of the Thai Criminal Code (lèse-majesté) .
After Ms. Thaweeporn declined to meet in the absence of an official written summons, on October 26, 2015, four military and two police officers went to Ms. Thaweeporn’s house to summon her for questioning. It was reported that several military officers had spent much of the day wandering around the Prachatai offices. The next day, at around 2 pm., Ms. Thaweeporn, accompanied by Prachatai Director Ms. Chiranuch Premchaiporn, Prachatai Managing Editor Mr. Chuwat Rerksirisuk, and a representative from the organisation Thai Lawyers for Human Rights (TLHR) as witnesses, was questioned about the article and the infographic at the Signal Department of the Royal Thai Army in Bangkok’s Bang Sue District. The meeting was attended by representatives of the Ministry of Justice, the Department of Special Investigation (DSI), the People’s Technological Crime Suppression Division (TCSD), four officials from the Thai Journalist Association (TJA) and army officers.
The senior military officer who chaired the meeting, which lasted for about an hour and a half, refused to reveal his name. During the meeting, he stated that Ms. Thaweeporn should have been more careful with the published article and infographic. The officer also threatened her, affirming that her activities would be further monitored.
The Observatory expresses its deepest concern over the acts of intimidation and judicial harassment against Ms. Thaweeporn Kummetha, which seem to merely aim at sanctioning her human rights activities. Accordingly, the Observatory calls on the Thai authorities to put an end to any kind of harassment – including judicial harassment – against Ms. Thaweeporn Kummetha and all human rights defenders in Thailand.
The Observatory would like to recall that this is not the first time journalists from Prachatai have faced such intimidation since the 2014 military coup. Mr. Tewarit Maneechai, a reporter at Prachatai, was among several activists and scholars summoned by the junta on June 3, 2014. He was arbitrarily detained for three days at a military camp in Bangkok.
Moreover, in May 2012, the Bangkok Criminal Court sentenced Ms. Chiranuch “Jiew” Premchaiporn, Executive Director of the online news website Prachatai, to one year in prison and a 30,000 baht (750 Euros) fine under Article 15 of the Computer Crimes Act. The court reduced the sentence to an eight-month suspended jail term and a 20,000 baht fine. The charges were the result of Ms. Chiranuch’s failure to promptly remove comments that had been posted on the Prachatai web board between April and November 2008, which the court considered to have offended the monarchy.
Please write to the Thai authorities asking them to:
i. Guarantee in all circumstances the physical and psychological integrity of Ms. Thaweeporn Kummetha, as well as all human rights defenders in Thailand;
ii. Put an end to all acts of intimidation and judicial harassment against Ms. Thaweeporn Kummetha, as well as against all human rights defenders in Thailand;
iii. Conform with the provisions of the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, adopted by the General Assembly of the United Nations on December 9, 1998, in particular with its:
· Article 1, which states that “everyone has the right, individually and in association with others, to promote and to strive for the protection and realisation of human rights and fundamental freedoms at the national and international levels”
· Article 6(b), which foresees that “everyone has the right, individually and in association with others, as provided for in human rights and other applicable international instruments, freely to publish, impart or disseminate to others views, information and knowledge on all human rights and fundamental freedoms”;
· Article 6(c), which stipulates that “everyone has the right [...] to study, discuss, form and hold opinions on the observance, both in law and in practice, of all human rights and fundamental freedoms and, through these and other appropriate means, to draw public attention to those matters”;
· Article 12.2, which provides that “the State shall take all necessary measures to ensure the protection by the competent authorities of everyone, individually and in association with others, against any violence, threats, retaliation, de facto or de jure adverse discrimination, pressure or any other arbitrary action as a consequence of his or her legitimate exercise of the rights referred to in the present Declaration”;
iv. Ensure in all circumstances respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms in accordance with international human rights standards and international instruments ratified by Thailand.
· Prime Minister, Gen Prayuth Chan-ocha, Government House, 1 Phitsanulok Road, Dusit, 10300, Bangkok, THAILAND; Fax: +66 (0) 2 282 5131
· Minister of Interior, Gen Anupong Paochinda, Asatang Road, Ratchabophit, 10200, Bangkok, THAILAND
· Minister of Foreign Affairs, Don Pramudwinai, Sri Ayutthaya Building, 443 Sri Ayutthaya Road, Phaya Thai, 10400, Bangkok, THAILAND; Fax: +66 (0) 2 643 5320; Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
· Minister of Justice, Gen Paiboon Khumchaya, 120 Chaeng Watthana Road, Laksi, 10210, Bangkok, THAILAND; Fax: +66 (0) 2 953 0503
· Pol Gen Somyot Poompanmoung, Commissioner-General of the Royal Thai Police, 1st Building, 7th Floor, Rama I Road, Pathumwan, 10330, Bangkok, THAILAND; Fax: +66 (0) 2 251 5956 / +66 (0) 2 251 8702
· Ms. Amara Pongsapich, Chairperson of the National Human Rights Commission of Thailand; 120 Chaeng Watthana Road, Laksi, 10210, Bangkok, THAILAND; Email: email@example.com
· Permanent Mission of Thailand to the United Nations in Geneva, rue Gustave Moynier 5, 1202 Geneva, Switzerland, Tel: + 41 22 715 10 10; Fax: + 41 22 715 10 00 / 10 02; Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
· Embassy of Thailand in Brussels, 2 Sq. du Val de la Cambre, 1050 Ixelles, Belgium, Tel: + 32 2 640 68 10; Fax: + 32 2 648 30 66; Email: email@example.com
Please also write to the diplomatic mission or embassy of Thailand in your respective country
|Paris-Geneva, November 6, 2015|
Kindly inform us of any action undertaken quoting the code of this appeal in your reply.
The Observatory, an FIDH and OMCT venture, is dedicated to the protection of Human Rights Defenders and aims to offer them concrete support in their time of need.
To contact the Observatory, call the emergency line:
· Email: 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