Thailand: Acquittal of seven human rights defenders

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New information

THA 002 / 0118 / OBS 015.2

Acquittal /
Judicial harassment /

Restrictions on freedom of peaceful assembly

September 20, 2019

The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a joint 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 acquittal of Mr. Sirawit Seritiwat, Ms. Nattha Mahatthana, Ms. Chonticha Jaengrew, Mr. Karn Phongprapaphan, Mr. Sukrit Piansuwan, and human rights lawyer Mr. Anon Nampa for their involvement in a peaceful demonstration held on February 10, 2018 in Bangkok. All six were charged and prosecuted under Article 116 of the Thai Criminal Code (‘sedition’). They faced up to seven years in prison each (see background information).

According to the information received, on September 20, 2019, at approximately 10:30am, the Bangkok’s Criminal Court found all six defendants not guilty of the sedition charges. The court found that the demonstration was peaceful, there was no chaos, there was no use of weapons, and police had received prior notification of the protest.

The court appearance of a seventh defendant, Mr. Rangsiman Rome, was postponed until mid-2020 in consideration of the parliamentary schedule. Mr. Rangsiman was elected as a member of the House of Representatives in the March 24, 2019 polls.

The seven defendants were among a group of 50 protesters who were also charged with violating Article 12 of National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) Order 3/2015, which banned political gatherings of more than four people. All charges with regard to this alleged violation were dropped following the repeal of Article 12 of NCPO Order 3/2015 on July 9, 2019.

The Observatory welcomes the acquittal of Mr. Sirawit Seritiwat, Ms. Nattha Mahatthana, Ms. Chonticha Jaengrew, Mr. Karn Phongprapaphan, Mr. Sukrit Piansuwan, and Mr. Anon Nampa, but recalls that the six should never have been prosecuted in the first place.

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