Thailand: Judicial harassment of 7 human rights defenders for leading a peaceful protest

31/01/2018
Urgent Appeal

THA 002 / 0118 / OBS 015
Judicial harassment /
Restrictions on freedom
of peaceful assembly
Thailand
January 31, 2018

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

Brief description of the situation:

The Observatory has been informed by reliable sources about the judicial harassment of Mr. Sirawit Seritiwat, Ms. Nattha Mahatthana, Democracy Restoration Group leader Mr. Rangsiman Rome, student activist Mr. Netiwit Chotipatpaisal, human rights activist and former lese-majeste detainee Mr. Ekachai Hongkangwan, human rights lawyer Mr. Anon Nampa, and student activist Ms. Sukrit Piansuwan, for their involvement in the organisation of a peaceful demonstration on January 27, 2018, in Bangkok.

According to the information received, on January 30, 2018, Colonel Burin Thongprapai, acting on behalf of Thailand’s ruling military junta, the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO), filed a complaint at Bangkok’s Pathumwan Police Station against the seven activists. They are accused of “inciting unrest” under Article 116 of the Criminal Code (‘sedition’) and of breaching Article 12 of NCPO Order 3/2015, which bans political gatherings of more than four people. The violation of Article 116 is punishable with a prison term of up to seven years. Article 12 of NCPO Order carries a penalty of up to six months in prison, or a fine of up to 10,000 Baht (approximately 257 Euros), or both.

The seven activists have been summoned to acknowledge the charges on February 2, 2018 at Bangkok’s Pathumwan Police Station.

On January 27, 2018, the seven activists led a peaceful protest of several hundred people on the Skywalk at Pathumwan intersection in central Bangkok. The protesters were demonstrating against the likely postponement of Thailand’s general election until 2019 [1]. NCPO Head General Prayuth Chan-ocha had previously pledged to hold the polls in November 2018.

The Observatory recalls that the Thai authorities have a long record of judicial harassment against Mr. Rangsiman Rome [2], Mr. Sirawit Seritiwat [3], and Mr. Anon Nampa [4].

The Observatory condemns the judicial harassment of Mr. Sirawit Seritiwat Ms. Nattha Mahatthana, Mr. Rangsiman Rome, Mr. Netiwit Chotipatpaisal, Mr. Ekachai Hongkangwan, Mr. Anon Nampa, and Ms. Sukrit Piansuwan.

The Observatory expresses concern over what seems to become a growing trend in Thailand against freedoms of peaceful assembly and association [5], and urges the Thai authorities to put an end to all forms of harassment, including at the judicial level, against the seven human rights defenders, which seems to only aim at punishing them for their peaceful and legitimate human rights activities.

Actions requested:

Please write to the Thai authorities asking them to:

i. Put an end to all forms of harassment – including at the judicial level – against Mr. Sirawit Seritiwat, Ms. Nattha Mahatthana, Mr. Rangsiman Rome, Mr. Netiwit Chotipatpaisal, Mr. Ekachai Hongkangwan, Mr. Anon Nampa, and Ms. Sukrit Piansuwan, as well as against all human rights defenders in Thailand and ensure in all circumstances that they are able to carry out their legitimate activities without any hindrance or fear of reprisals;

ii. 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;

iii. Conform to 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 Articles 1, 5(b), and 12.2;

iv. 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:

· 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 mission or embassy of Thailand in your respective country.

***
Paris-Geneva, January 31, 2018

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 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:
· 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

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