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Thailand
20.09.19
Urgent Interventions

Acquittal of seven human rights defenders

Newinformation

THA 002 / 0118 / OBS 015.2

Acquittal/
Judicial harassment /

Restrictionson freedom of peaceful assembly

Thailand
September 20
, 2019


The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a joint partnershipof FIDH and the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT), has received newinformation and requests your urgent intervention in the following situation inThailand.

New information:

The Observatory has been informed by reliable sources about the acquittalof Mr. SirawitSeritiwat, Ms. Nattha Mahatthana,Ms. ChontichaJaengrew, Mr. KarnPhongprapaphan, Mr. SukritPiansuwan, and human rights lawyer Mr. Anon Nampa fortheir involvement in a peaceful demonstration held on February 10, 2018 in Bangkok.Allsix were charged and prosecuted under Article 116 of the Thai Criminal Code(‘sedition’). They faced up to seven years in prison each (see backgroundinformation).

According to the information received, on September 20, 2019, atapproximately 10:30am, the Bangkok’s Criminal Court found all six defendantsnot guilty of the sedition charges. The court found that the demonstration waspeaceful, there was no chaos, there was no use of weapons, and police hadreceived prior notification of the protest.

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

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

The Observatorywelcomes the acquittal of Mr. Sirawit Seritiwat, Ms. NatthaMahatthana, Ms. Chonticha Jaengrew, Mr. Karn Phongprapaphan, Mr. Sukrit Piansuwan, and Mr. AnonNampa, but recalls that the six should never have been prosecuted in the firstplace.

Background information:

On February 10, 2018, Mr. Sirawit Seritiwat,Ms. Nattha Mahatthana, Ms. Chonticha Jaengrew, Mr. RangsimanRome, Mr. Karn Phongprapaphan, Mr. Sukrit Piansuwan, andMr. Anon Nampa participated in a peaceful demonstration near Bangkok’sDemocracy Monument, to call for the NCPO to hold a general election before theend of 2018.

On February 13,2018, Colonel Burin Thongprapai, acting on behalf of the now dissolved-NCPO,filed a complaint at Bangkok’s Nang Lueng police station against 50participants, including the seven above-mentioned human rights defenders.

Actions requested:

Please write to the authorities of Thailand asking them to:

i. Put anend to all acts of harassment, including at the judicial level, against Mr. Sirawit Seritiwat, Ms. NatthaMahatthana, Ms. Chonticha Jaengrew, Mr. Karn Phongpraphan,Mr. Sukrit Piansuwan, Mr. Anon Nampa and Mr. Rangsiman Rome, as wellas all human rights defenders in Thailand;

ii. Ensure in all circumstances that human rights defenders inThailand are able to carry out their legitimate activities without anyhindrance or fear of reprisals;

iii. Guarantee in all circumstances the right tofreedom of peaceful assembly as enshrined in Article 20 of the UniversalDeclaration of Human Rights and Article 21 of the International Covenant onCivil and Political Rights;

iv.Comply with all the provisions of the United Nations Declaration on HumanRights Defenders adopted by the UN General Assembly on December 9, 1998, inparticular with its Articles 1, and 12;

v. Ensurein all circumstances respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms inaccordance with international human rights standards and internationalinstruments 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 6435320; Email: minister@mfa.go.th

· AirChief Marshal Prajin Juntong, Minister of Justice of Thailand, Fax: +66 (0) 2953 0503

· PolGen 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 UnitedNations in Geneva, Switzerland, Fax: +41 22 715 10 00 / 10 02; Email: mission.thailand@ties.itu.int

· Embassyof Thailand in Brussels, Belgium, Fax: +32 2 648 30 66; Email:thaibxl@pophost.eunet.be

Pleasealso write to the diplomatic representations of Thailand in your respectivecountries.

***

Paris-Geneva, September 20, 2019

Kindly inform us of any action undertakenquoting the code of this appeal in your reply.

The Observatory for theProtection of Human Rights Defenders (the Observatory) was created in 1997 byFIDH and the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT). The objective of thisprogramme is to prevent or remedy situations of repression against human rightsdefenders. FIDH and OMCT are both members of ProtectDefenders.eu, the European Union Human Rights Defenders Mechanism implemented byinternational civil society.

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