August 21, 2017
(Scholars at Risk Facebook)
August 21, 2017
(Scholars at Risk Facebook)
August 15, 2017
A Thai student activist was jailed for two and a half years on Tuesday for posting on Facebook a BBC article deemed offensive to Thailand’s king, his lawyer said.
Jatupat Boonpattaraksa, also known as Pai, an activist and critic of the ruling junta, was the first person to be charged with royal insult, known as lese-majeste, after new King Maha Vajiralongkorn formally ascended the throne on December 1, following the death of his father, King Bhumibol Adulyadej.
Jatupat, a former law student, was arrested on December 3 and charged for posting a BBC Thai language profile of the king which some deemed offensive.
He was also charged with violating a computer crime law for posting a link to the BBC report, which was shared by more than 2,000 people.
He pleaded guilty to the charges against him earlier on Tuesday, prompting the court to bring forward its verdict.
“The court sentenced Pai to five years in prison, reduced to two and a half years,” Kissandang Nutcharat, Jatupat’s lawyer, told Reuters.
August 9, 2017
On 2 August 2017, human rights lawyer Sirikan Charoensiri was informed of charges pressed against her for allegedly submitting a false report to the police under Sections 172 and 174 of the Thai Criminal Code. In total, Sirikan Charoensiri is currently facing three different legal proceedings, all linked to her work as a human rights lawyer, and which could carry up to 15 years’ imprisonment.
Sirikan Charoensiri is a human rights lawyer who works with Thai Lawyers for Human Rights (TLHR), where she provides legal services in high-profile human rights cases on a pro bono basis. She is one of the legal representatives of the 14 student activists from the New Democracy Movement (NDM), who were arrested on 26 June 2015 after staging peaceful protests to mark the first anniversary of the military coup, which took place in May 2014. In April 2017, she was the first woman to receive the Lawyers for Lawyers Award from the eponymous Dutch civil society group.
On 2 August 2017, Sirikan Charoensiri reported to the Chanasongkram police station in Bangkok and was informed that she was charged with allegedly submitting a false report to the police in violation of Sections 172 and 174 of the Thai Criminal Code. These charges, which Sirikan Charoensiri denies, were filed against her after she submitted a complaint of malfeasance in office against the Commander of the Metropolitan Police Bureau 6, and other police officers for illegally impounding her car on 27 June 2015. On that day, police seized Sirikan Charoensiri’s vehicle without a warrant in order to confiscate the mobile phones of the members of the New Democracy Movement, which were in the car. The defender declared that she would submit a written statement before 30 September 2017. The charges carry a penalty of up to 5 years in jail.
Earlier that day, the public prosecutor of Dusit District Prosecutor Office rescheduled the reading of the indictment decision in a separate case against Sirikan Charoensiri. The hearing was postponed to 20 November 2017 at 09:30. A case file was registered against the human rights lawyer in May 2016 under Sections 142 and 368 of the Thai Criminal Code for concealing evidence and refusing to comply with official orders, respectively.
August 2, 2017
This morning a political officer of the Netherlands Embassy together with members of the Diplomatic Corps gave support to Thai human rights lawyer Ms Sirikan June Charoensiri who is under criminal investigation by the Public Prosecutor and Police because of doing her job as a lawyer representing pro-democracy clients. The Netherlands calls on the Thai authorities to stop these investigations and drop the charges. Human Rights Defenders deserve our protection!
(Embassy of the Netherlands in Thailand Facebook)
August 1, 2017
At 11:00 am on 2 August 2017, at Chanasongkram police station in Bangkok— Sirikan Charoensiri or ‘Lawyer June’ is scheduled to report to be informed of her charge, for allegedly submitting a false report to the police in violation of Sections 172 and 174 of the Thai Criminal Code. The allegation followed her filing a complaint of malfeasance in office against Pol Lt Gen Chayapol Chatchayadetch and other police officers for illegally impounding her car on 27 June 2015.
On 23 July 2017, June received a summons from the Bangkok’s Chanasongkram Police Station to be charged with criminal offences related to reporting false information on 21 July 2017. However, June was only aware of the summons after the set date because the summons was sent to the address in which she does not regularly reside. June, therefore, requested with the police to reschedule the reporting date to 2 August 2017.
June was previously summoned to report for these charges on 9 February 2016. However, she could not be informed of the charges since the inquiry officer could not point out which parts of the report were allegedly false. June will face a trial in the Criminal Court if indicted.
Earlier at 9:30 am on the same day, 2 August 2017, at Dusit District Prosecutor’s Office in Bangkok— June is also scheduled to report to the public prosecutor. June was charged with Sections 142 and 368 of the Thai Criminal Code for concealing evidence and refusing to comply with official orders, respectively, for her refusal to let warrantless officers search her car at night on 26 – 27 June 2015. On 2 May 2017, June requested to postpone her reporting to the public prosecutor in this case. The prosecutor stated that the indictment decision was pending at the Department of Attorney-General’s Decisions (DLAG).
After her last reporting on 17 January 2017, June received a letter from the prosecutor’s office, stating that it had concluded the case and issued its decision. (Read more) However, the case had been further submitted to Police Commissioner-General (of the Royal Thai Police) for consideration. On 2 May 2017, Dusit District Prosecutor’s Office stated that the Royal Thai Police had issued the decision, and that the case file was transferred to the Department of Attorney-General’s Decisions (DLAG), pending its consideration.
June 19, 2017
19 พ.ค.60 ทนายความศิริกาญจน์ เจริญศิริ เข้ารับรางวัล Lawyers for Lawyers award 2017 จากองค์กร Lawyers for Lawyers ณ เมืองอัมสเตอดัม ประเทศเนเธอร์แลนด์
On 19 May, Thai human rights lawyer Sirikan ‘June’ Charoensiri received the fourth L4L-Award in Amsterdam. The award was presented to her by Jorge Molano from Colombia, who received the award two years ago. Sirikan Charoensiri was the first woman to receive the L4L-Award.
This video was created by @HumanRightsinthePicture for L4L. It was shown for the first time during the reception that was hosted at the Embassy of the Netherlands in Thailand on 27 June, that was organized to honour and congratulate Sirikan June Charoensiri.
(Lawyers for Lawyers Facebook)
May 18, 2017
THE only historical record of Queen Chammathewi, the legendary founder of the Thai city of Lamphun, comes from a fanciful 15th-century chronicle written on palm leaves in an ancient liturgical language. It describes how, some time in the seventh century, she came to a spot that the Buddha had supposedly visited centuries before. With the help of a Buddhist ascetic, she conjured a city out of the jungle, subjugated the natives and begat not one, but two royal dynasties.
There is no proof that the queen (pictured) ever really existed, and she definitely falls outside the scope of Thailand’s law on lèse-majesté, which bars criticism only of the reigning king, queen, heir apparent and regent. But Thais should not feel they can say whatever they want about her. So, at least, a provincial court implied last month when it convicted a local of disseminating false or illegal material online for posting a lascivious comment about her on Facebook.
At least 105 people have been detained or are serving prison sentences for lèse-majesté, compared with just five under the elected government the junta overthrew in 2014. Many of them posted critical comments about the royal family on social media; some simply shared or “liked” such comments. Other arrests have been on even pettier grounds. Jatupat Boonpattararaksa, a student activist, is on trial for sharing a profile of King Vajiralongkorn published by the BBC’s Thai service. Police have warned that those agitating for his release could themselves face charges. A well-known academic, Sulak Sivaraksa, remains under investigation for several instances of lèse-majesté, including questioning whether a 16th-century battle involving a Thai king really took place.
This month security forces arrested Prawet Prapanukul, a human-rights lawyer best known for defending lèse-majesté suspects. He risks a record 150 years in jail if convicted of all ten counts of lèse-majesté he faces. Several recent sentences for insulting royals have exceeded 50 years; the standard for murder is 15-20 years.
We are very concerned by the rise in the number of lèse majesté prosecutions in Thailand since 2014 and the severity of the sentencing, including a 35-year jail term handed down last Friday against one individual. A Thai military court found Wichai Thepwong guilty of posting 10 photos, videos and comments on Facebook deemed defamatory of the royal family. He was sentenced to 70 years in jail, but the sentence was reduced to 35 years after he confessed to the charges.
This is the heaviest sentence ever handed down under Article 112 of the Criminal Code, which is also known as the lèse majesté law. The previous heaviest sentences were handed down in 2015, when three people were jailed for between 25 and 30 years by military courts on the same charges. The offence carries a penalty of three to 15 years in jail for each charge of insulting the monarchy.
Between 2011 and 2013, 119 people were investigated for insulting the monarchy. Over the last three years, between 2014 and 2016, that figure has more than doubled to at least 285.
Statistics provided by Thai authorities show there has been a sharp fall in the number of people who have been able to successfully defend themselves against lèse majesté charges. From 2011-13, around 24 percent of people charged with the offence walked free, but over the next three years, that number fell to about 10 percent. Last year, that figure was only 4 percent.
While our Office appreciates the complexity and sensitivity of the issue surrounding lèse majesté in Thailand, we are deeply troubled by the high rate of prosecutions and the courts’ persistence in handing down disproportionate sentences for the offence. All people have the right to freedom of expression, including when it comes to criticising public figures. Imprisonment of individuals solely for exercising the right to freedom of expression constitutes a violation of Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), which Thailand acceded to in 1996. In March 2017, the UN Human Rights Committee, which reviews implementation of the ICCPR, concluded that Thailand should review Article 112 of the Criminal Code to bring it into line with Article 19 of the Covenant.
We also have concerns about the conduct of the trials since the military coup of 2014. Most of the lèse majesté cases have been tried before a military court, and the hearings have been closed to the public. Most of the accused have been denied bail and some held for long periods in pre-trial detention. While we welcome the Government’s decision in September 2016 to cease hearing future lèse majesté cases in military courts, we reiterate our call to authorities to apply this is to all pending cases, retroactively.
Our Office calls on the Thai Government to immediately amend the lèse majesté law to bring it in line with international human rights standards and to review all cases brought under Article 112 of the Criminal code.
Spokesperson for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights:
(UN Human Rights – Asia Facebook, June 13, 2017)