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Free Somyot, expedite his appeal trial

Thailand:Free Somyot, expedite his appeal trial

Paris-Geneva, April 30, 2015 - Thailand’s SupremeCourt must immediately release on bail human rights defender SomyotPhrueksakasemsuk and expedite his appeal trial, the Observatory for theProtection of Human Rights Defenders, an FIDH-OMCT joint programme, said today.

The Observatory reiterated its call on the fourthanniversary of Somyot’s detention on lèse-majesté charges (Article 112 of theThai Criminal Code). Article 112 imposes jail terms ranging from three to 15years for persons found guilty of defaming, insulting, or threatening the King,the Queen, the Heir to the throne, or the Regent.

“The protracted arbitrary detention of Somyot exudes aprofound lack of fairness that is a typical characteristic of lèse-majestéprosecutions. The Supreme Court must reverse this trend by ordering Somyot’simmediate release on bail and expediting his appeal trial”, said FIDH President Karim Lahidji.

Somyot, 53, is Thailand’s fourth longest servinglèse-majesté detainee. A former labor activist and editor of the now-defunctmagazine Voice of Taksin, Somyot was arrested on April 30, 2011 - fivedays after he launched a petition campaign to collect 10,000 signatures requiredfor a parliamentary review of Article 112. On January 23, 2013, the BangkokCriminal Court sentenced Somyot to 10 years in prison on two counts oflèse-majesté. Somyot was convicted for allowing the publication of twosatirical articles in the Voice of Taksin that were written by someoneelse and deemed to have insulted the monarchy.

On September 19, 2014, the Court of Appeals upheld theBangkok Criminal Court’s lèse-majesté conviction of Somyot. The court failed toinform Somyot, his lawyer, and his family members that the hearing would takeplace on that day.

On November 19, 2014, Somyot filed an appeal to theSupreme Court against his conviction. He remainsincarcerated in Bangkok Remand Prison pending his appeal. Court officials havedenied Somyot’s requests for bail 16 times - the last time on November 18,2014.

“Thailand must put an immediate end to the deplorablejudicial harassment of Somyot. The continued denial of his right to bail - aright that Thai courts frequently grant to individuals accused of seriouscrimes - contravenes Thailand’s obligations under international law andreflects the unfair treatment reserved to lèse-majesté detainees”, said OMCT Secretary General Gerald Staberock.

In an opinion issued on August 30, 2012, the UN WorkingGroup on Arbitrary Detention (UNWGAD) ruled that Somyot’s detention wasarbitrary. The UNWGAD called on the authorities to release Somyot and award himcompensation.

Nineteen individuals, including Somyot, are currentlyserving prison terms after being found guilty of violating Article 112 of theCriminal Code. In addition, at least another 16 remain detained awaiting trialon lèse-majesté charges.

For more information, please contact:

· FIDH: Lucie Kroening: + 33 (0) 1 43 55 25 18

· OMCT: Miguel Martin Zumalacarregui: + 41 (0) 22 809 49 24

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