Authorities continue to indict and detain human rights defenders for peacefully exercising their human rights and participating in protests for reform. Authorities continue to deny the right to bail to some of the activists who have contracted COVID-19 during a recent outbreak in Bangkok prisons. Thailand must amend or repeal the repressive laws it is using to suppress peaceful assembly and the expression of critical and dissenting opinions.
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Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-Cha
Office of the Prime Minister
Bangkok 10300, Thailand
Phone: 66 2 618 2323
Fax: 66 2 282 5131
Dear Prime Minister,
I write to express my grave concern for the ongoing crackdown on human rights defenders in Thailand, which has seen at least 635 people, including 41 children targeted with criminal proceedings solely for peacefully exercising their human rights. Your government continues to indict, put on trial and arbitrarily detain students and other peaceful protesters, including children, under legislation including lèse-majesté and sedition.
It is distressing to learn that dozens of students and peaceful protesters, including Parit ‘Penguin’ Chiwarak, Anon Numpa, Panupong ‘Mike’ Jadnok, Panusaya ‘Rung’ Sithijirawattanakul, Piyarat ‘Toto’ Chongthep, Chai-amorn ‘Ammy’ Kaewwiboonpan, Pornsorn ‘Fah’ Weerathamjaree, Wanwale ‘Tee’ Thammasattaya and Siraphop ‘Kha Nun’ Phumphuenghphut are at risk of lengthy prison sentences for the peaceful exercise of their human rights during protests.
I am further concerned about the health and well-being of the detained individuals, especially in light of an ongoing COVID-19 outbreak in prison. Specifically, I find it alarming that Anon Numpa, and Panupong ‘Mike’ Jadnok have contracted COVID-19 in detention and have had repeated bail applications denied. This is further worrying as they have been without adequate access to family members or legal counsel.
It is important that your government upholds Thailand’s international and constitutional human rights obligations and allow people to express their opinions, including on social media, and peacefully participate in public protests. As you will be aware, the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention have previously found Thai authorities to have breached its international human rights obligations by prosecuting and arbitrarily detaining lèse majesté suspects, including by holding them in unnecessary pre-trial detention and repeatedly denying bail.
Therefore, I call on you to:
- Immediately and unconditionally release and/or withdraw charges against protesters and others targeted for peaceful exercise of their rights, drop all criminal proceedings against them;
- Pending the release of detained protesters, provide adequate access to their family and lawyers and ensure they have adequate access to medical treatment;
- In line with repeated UPR and UN expert recommendations, amend or repeal legislation to ensure it conforms with Thailand’s international human rights obligations, association, and peaceful assembly.