Thailand: Judicial harassment of 15 pro-democracy activists

14/05/2019
Urgent Appeal

THA 001 / 0519 / OBS 042
Judicial harassment
Thailand
May 14, 2019

The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a joint partnership of 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 judicial harassment of 15 former and current pro-democracy activists: Ms. Chonthicha Jangrew, Messrs. Rangsiman Rome, Jatuphat Boonpattaraska (aka Pai), Apiwat Suntararak, Payu Boonsopon, Panupong Srithananuwat, Suvicha Tipangkorn, Supachai Pukrongploy, Wasant Sadesit, Songtham Kaewpanphruek, Rattapol Supasophon, Apisit Sapnapaphan, Pakorn Areekul, Pornchai Yuanyee, and Worawut Butrmatr [1].

According to the information received, the 15 above-mentioned activists were ordered to appear at Bangkok’s Pathumwan Police Station in two separate groups on May 17 and May 21, 2019, to hear charges against them under Article 116 (‘sedition’) and 215 (‘participation in an illegal assembly’) of the Thai Criminal Code. The charges stem from their participation in a peaceful protest held outside the Pathumwan Police Station on the evening of June 24, 2015. The protest was held to denounce police brutality during a separate peaceful gathering held on May 22, 2015, and to oppose the use of military courts to try civilians. In relation to the sedition charges, all 15 face a trial by a military court and, if found guilty of the offense, could face prison terms of up to seven years.

The Observatory recalls that the above-mentioned pro-democracy activists have been subjected to other spurious criminal charges in retaliation for their human rights activities [2]. Since the May 22, 2014, military coup in Thailand, all of them have been charged multiple times in connection with cases related to their peaceful exercise of rights guaranteed by international human rights instrument to which Thailand is a state party. For example, Mr. Rangsiman Rome and Ms. Chonthicha Jangrew have had nine and seven criminal cases filed against them respectively in relation to their pro-democracy activities, including peaceful protests against Thailand’s ruling military junta.

The Observatory condemns the latest acts of judicial harassment against the 15 pro-democracy activists, which occurs almost four years after the alleged violations. The Observatory also condemns the ongoing use of military courts for trials of civilians for alleged offenses committed prior to 12 September 2016.

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 Ms. Chonthicha Jangrew, Messrs. Jatuphat Boonpattaraska, Apiwat Suntararak, Payu Boonsopon, Panupong Srithananuwat, Suvicha Tipangkorn, Supachai Pukrongploy, Wasant Sadesit, Rangsiman Rome, Songtham Kaewpanphruek, Rattapol Supasophon, Apisit Sapnapaphan, Pakorn Areekul, Pornchai Yuanyee, and Worawut Butrmatr, 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. Put an end to the use of military courts for trials of civilians for alleged offenses committed prior to 12 September 2016;

iv. Guarantee in all circumstances the right to freedom of peaceful assembly and the right to freedom of opinion and expression of all human rights defenders in Thailand;

v. 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;

vi. Ensure in all circumstances respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms in accordance with international human rights standards and international instruments ratified by Thailand.

Addresses:

Gen. Prayuth Chan-ocha, Prime Minister of Thailand, Fax: +66 (0) 2 282 5131
Mr. Don Pramudwinai, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Thailand, Fax: +66 (0) 2 643 5320; Email: minister@mfa.go.th
Air Chief Marshal Prajin Juntong, 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, May 14, 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

[1] Mr. Rangsiman Rome is now an MP-elect with the Future Forward Party (FFP); Mr. Worawut Butrmatr is a staff member of FFP; Mr. Pakorn Areekul is a spokesperson for the Commoner Party.
[2] See for example Observatory Urgent Appeals THA 002 / 0118 / OBS 015, published on January 31, 2018; THA 001 / 0117 / OBS 006.2, published on August 17, 2017.

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