Thailand: Sentence against student and pro-democracy activist Jatuphat Boonpattaraksa (aka Pai)

17/08/2017
Urgent Appeal

New information
THA 001 / 0117 / OBS 006.2

Sentence/
Arbitrary Detention
Thailand
August 17, 2017

The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a 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 sentence against student and pro-democracy activist Mr. Jatuphat Boonpattaraksa (aka Pai), a member of the Dao Din group [1] and the New Democracy Movement (NDM) [2].

According to the information received, on August 15, 2017, following a closed-door hearing, the Khon Kaen Provincial Court sentenced Mr. Jatuphat to five years in prison under Article 112 of the Criminal Code (lèse-majesté) [3] for sharing on his Facebook page a profile of Thai King Maha Vajiralongkorn Bodindradebayavarangkun, published on the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) Thai language service’s website (see background information).

The court reduced the sentence to two years and six months in consideration of Mr. Jatuphat’s guilty plea [4] .

Mr. Jatuphat has been arbitrarily detained in Khon Kaen Prison since December 22, 2016 and denied bail on numerous occasions. Furthermore, to date, Mr. Jatuphat is still facing several charges in other ongoing cases (see background information).

The Observatory noted that, to date, Mr. Jatuphat is the only individual who has been arrested and charged among the approximately 3,000 web users who shared the BBC profile of the Thai King on Facebook. It is believed that the charges against him are aimed at punishing him for his legitimate human rights activities and silencing dissident critical voices in Thailand.

The Observatory condemns the conviction, imprisonment, and ongoing judicial harassment of Mr. Jatuphat and urges the Thai authorities to immediately release him and drop all charges against him.

Background information:

On December 3, 2016, Mr. Jatuphat Boonpattaraksa was arrested for sharing on Facebook a profile of Thai King Maha Vajiralongkorn Bodindradebayavarangkun, published on the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) Thai language service’s website on December 2, 2016.

The following day, Mr. Jatuphat was released on a 400,000 Thai baht (approx. 10,620 Euros) bail.

However, on December 22, 2016, the Khon Kaen Provincial Court approved a police request to revoke Mr. Jatuphat’s bail after he posted a sarcastic Facebook message that read: “The economy is poor so they [the authorities] took my bail money”. Since then, Mr. Jatuphat has been detained in Khon Kaen Provincial Correctional Institution.

The Observatory was also informed about abusive cavity searches to which Mr. Jatuphat has been subjected on several occasions after returning to Khon Kaen Provincial Correctional Institution from court hearings.

Mr. Jatuphat has faced arrest and legal action on numerous occasions in connection with his participation in peaceful pro-democracy activities. On November 19, 2014, Mr. Jatuphat and four other student activists were arrested by police and subsequently detained by the military for several hours for staging a silent protest and flashing a defiant three-finger salute while junta head General Prayuth Chan-ocha was delivering a speech during an official visit to Khon Kaen.

On May 22, 2015, police arrested Mr. Jatuphat along with six fellow members of the ‘Dao Din’ group for staging a peaceful anti-junta demonstration to mark the one-year anniversary of the military coup at Khon Kaen Democracy Monument. All seven were released on bail the next day after being charged with violating National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) Order 3/2015, which bans political gatherings of more than four people. If convicted by a military court, they could face prison terms of up to six months or a 10,000 Thai baht (approx. 265 Euros) fine.

On June 26, 2015, police arrested Mr. Jatuphat along with 13 other student activists for an anti-junta peaceful demonstration at Bangkok’s Democracy Monument a day earlier. The 14 activists were released by the Bangkok Military Court on July 8, 2015 after being charged with violating NCPO Order 3/2015 and Article 116 of the Criminal Code (‘sedition’) . If convicted under Article 116, Mr. Jatuphat faces up to seven years in prison.

Mr. Jatuphat is facing additional charges under NCPO Order 3/2015 for organizing a public discussion on Thailand’s 2017 constitution at Khon Kaen University on July 31, 2016.

On August 6, 2016, Mr. Jatuphat was arrested in Chaiyaphum Province for distributing leaflets that urged voters to reject the junta-backed constitution in the August 7, 2016 referendum. He was released on August 19, 2016, after being charged with violating Article 61 of the 2016 Referendum Act. If convicted, he could face up to 10 years in prison, a fine of up to 200,000 baht (approx. 5,310 Euros), and the revocation of his voting rights for a period of up to 10 years.

To date, all the above mentioned cases are ongoing and Mr. Jatuphat is still facing all the above mentioned charges.

Actions requested:

Please write to the Thai authorities asking them to:

i. Guarantee in all circumstances the physical and psychological integrity of Mr. Jatuphat Boonpattaraksa, as well as that of all human rights defenders in Thailand;

ii. Immediately and unconditionally release Mr. Jatuphat Boonpattaraksa as his detention is arbitrary since it only seems to aim at punishing him for his human rights activities;

iii. Put an end to any kind of harassment – including at the judicial level – against Mr. Jatuphat Boonpattaraksa, as well as all other human rights defenders in Thailand;

iv. 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 Articles 1, 6, 9, and 12.2;

v. 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
· Don Pramudwinai, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Thailand, Fax: +66 (0) 2 643 5320; Email: minister@mfa.go.th
· Suwaphan Tanyuvardhna, 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, August 17, 2017

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[at]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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