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Thailand

    September 28, 2017
    Authorities must not “push-back” Rohingya fleeing violence in Myanmar Refugees sent back to face certain persecution Thailand should provide refugees formal legal status and protection

    With the world’s fastest growing refugee crisis developing on its doorstep, Thailand must take concrete action to reverse its long-standing failure to offer protection to those most in need, Amnesty International said today as it launched a report revealing gaping holes in the country’s refugee policies.

    Between a Rock and a Hard Place outlines a number of failures by the Thai government in policy and practice that have a devastating impact on refugees both within the country and seeking safety there. These include Thailand’s long-standing practice of using its navy to repel boats carrying thousands of desperate Rohingya refugees and Bangladeshis; as well as its forcible return of refugees and asylum-seekers to places where they risk torture and other serious human rights violations.

    August 15, 2017
      Reacting to the guilty verdict against pro-democracy activist Jatupat Boonpattararaksa (“Pai Dao Din”), who was today sentenced to two-and-a-half years in prison for violating Thailand’s lèse-majesté law after sharing a BBC article on Facebook, Josef Benedict, Amnesty International’s Deputy Campaigns Director for Southeast Asia and the Pacific, said:   “This verdict shows the extremes to which the authorities are prepared to go in using repressive laws to silence peaceful debate, including on Facebook. It is outrageous that Pai Dao Din is now facing more than two years behind bars just for sharing a news article.   “Pai Dao Din should never have had to face trial in the first place. His guilty plea should not be considered as an admission of criminal responsibility as the courts regularly halve sentences for defendants who have pleaded guilty in such cases. Pai Dao Din must be released immediately and unconditionally.  
    August 02, 2017
      Responding to the Thai authorities summoning of prominent journalist Pravit Rojanaphruk to answer accusations of sedition for some of his Facebook posts, Amnesty International’s Director for Southeast Asia and the Pacific, James Gomez, said:   “The authorities must immediately stop using the criminal justice system to harass Pravit Rojanaphruk. It is outrageous to think that he could face decades in prison for a totally peaceful action like putting up a few critical Facebook posts. Pravit is a brave journalist who has already been arbitrarily detained by the military government twice since it seized power in 2014. All criminal proceedings against him must be dropped.   “There appears to be no end to the Thai authorities’ determination to stamp out any form of criticism, whether online or on the streets. In the past few years, dozens of people have faced sedition charges for peacefully criticising the junta, including for their use of Facebook and other social media.  
    April 12, 2017

    Responding to a government warning that anyone who follows, contacts, or shares posts online with three prominent critics - historian Somsak Jeamteerasakul, journalist and author Andrew MacGregor Marshall, and former diplomat Pavin Chachavalpongpun - will be prosecuted under the Computer Crimes Act, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for Southeast Asia and the Pacific Josef Benedict said:

    “The Thai authorities have plunged to fresh depths in restricting people’s freedoms of expression. After imprisoning people for what they say both online and offline, and hounding critics into exile, they want to cut people off from each other altogether.

    “The move doesn’t reveal strength, but a weakness and fear of criticism. In its determination to silence all dissent, the Thai authorities are resorting to extreme measures that brazenly flout international human rights law.

    “In March, the UN Human Rights Committee raised concerns about the severe and arbitrary restrictions on freedom of expression, including the Computer Crimes Act. Rather than drawing lessons from the criticism, they are pressing ahead with their repressive tactics.”

     

    February 08, 2017

    Released  06:00 GMT / 13: 00 BANGKOK TIME

    Thai authorities are waging a campaign to criminalize and punish dissent by targeting civil society and political activists who peacefully exercise their rights to freedom of expression and assembly, a new briefing from Amnesty International said today.

    Dozens of human rights defenders, pro-democracy activists and others are currently being investigated and prosecuted under draconian laws and decrees, which are used as tools to silence critics by Thailand’s military government.

    “The Thai authorities have created a fearful environment where people cannot speak or assemble peacefully without risking arrest and prosecution,” said Champa Patel, Amnesty International’s Director for South East Asia and the Pacific.

    “The severe restrictions on the rights to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly speak volumes to the actions of a government that cannot tolerate different opinions on issues of national importance.”

    January 18, 2017
      DOWNLOAD PDF HERE

    Student Jatupat Boonpattararaksa is in prison for making posts on his Facebook. © Facebook

     

    Jatupat is a university student in Thailand.

     

    On December 1, Jatupat was looking at the BBC website. (The BBC is a respected international source for news.) He saw an article there about Thailand’s new king. The article describes some things about the king that would offend him. Still, Jatupat decided to post it on his Facebook page.

     

    The government did not like Jatupat spreading any critical comments about the new king. They arrested him on December 3 and charged him with sharing the BBC news article on his Facebook page. In fact, they call his action “a computer crime”.

     

    The next day, the government released Jatupat. But they soon changed their

    October 05, 2016

    The decision to deny Hong Kong student activist Joshua Wong entry into Thailand underscores the government’s willingness to suppress the right to freedom of expression and raises serious concerns about how China is using its influence over Thai authorities, Amnesty International said today. 

    “The detention and deportation of Joshua Wong are yet another indicator that Thailand’s military government will use any available means to stifle political discourse in the country,” said Champa Patel, Amnesty International’s Senior Research Adviser for South East Asia and the Pacific.

    Wong is a student activist and the Secretary General of Demosistō, a recently formed pro-democracy political party in Hong Kong. Wong rose to international prominence in 2014 as one of the leaders of pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong that came to be known as the Umbrella Movement. Wong and the Hong Kong Umbrella Movement have become a source of inspiration for some student activists in Thailand.

    September 28, 2016

    Since seizing power in a 2014 coup, Thailand’s military authorities have allowed a culture of torture and other ill-treatment to flourish across the country, with soldiers and policemen targeting suspected insurgents, political opponents, and individuals from the most vulnerable sections of society, a new report by Amnesty International said today.

    The report, “Make Him Speak by Tomorrow”: Torture and Other Ill-Treatment in Thailand, documents 74 cases of torture and other ill-treatment at the hands of soldiers and the police, including beatings, suffocation by plastic bags, strangling by hand or rope, waterboarding, electric shocks of the genitals, and other forms of humiliation.

    September 28, 2016

    Silencing human rights activists who highlight human rights violations will not solve the problem of torture and other ill-treatment in Thailand, Amnesty International said today.

    In Bangkok, Thailand’s authorities prevented Amnesty International from proceeding with the launch of “Make Him Speak by Tomorrow: Torture and Other Ill-Treatment in Thailand.” This report details torture and other ill-treatment at the hands of soldiers and the police against suspected insurgents, government opponents, and a range of individuals from vulnerable backgrounds, including alleged drug users and minorities.

    “The Thai authorities should be addressing torture, not human rights activists doing their legitimate work. Instead of threatening us with arrest and prosecution, they should be holding the perpetrators of torture accountable. It is an appalling state of affairs when speaking up for human rights can be criminalised but torture continues with impunityl,” said Minar Pimple, Amnesty International’s Senior Director, Global Operations.

    September 20, 2016

    Reacting to the Bangkok South Criminal Court’s guilty verdict against Andy Hall, a British migrant rights worker, Amnesty International said:

    “Today’s verdict is an appalling end to a trial that never should have started. Thailand needs to take seriously its obligation to protect human rights activists rather than allowing its legal system to be hijacked by companies seeking to silence those exposing abusive practices,” said Champa Patel, Amnesty International’s Senior Research Adviser for South East Asia and the Pacific.

    “Sadly, the case against Andy Hall is just the one of many in which human rights defenders face criminal defamation charges for their crucial work supporting vulnerable individuals and communities. Criminal defamation provisions are being used to silence people who do a public service by uncovering injustice. Thailand’s authorities need to take a hard look at the ways in which the legal system often undermines justice instead of promoting it.”

    Background

    August 12, 2016

    A series of apparently coordinated blasts at tourist spots in southern Thailand overnight are reprehensible acts of violence that must be thoroughly investigated, with those responsible brought to justice, Amnesty International said today.

    At least four people were killed in the blasts and dozens more were injured as four bombs exploded in the resort town of Hua Hin and several others in Phuket, a popular tourist destination, as well as in Trang province.

    “Nothing can justify intentionally carrying out indiscriminate attacks, which disregard the basic right to life. These acts of violence show utter contempt for human rights,” said Champa Patel, Senior Research Advisor for Amnesty International’s Southeast Asia and Pacific Regional Office.

    “Those behind the attacks must be brought to justice through fair trials. Amnesty International calls on Thai authorities to ensure their response is in accordance with their obligations under international human rights law.”

    So far no group has claimed responsibility for the attacks. 

    ******

    August 05, 2016

    Thailand’s referendum on a draft constitution takes place this Sunday against a backdrop of pervasive human rights violations that have created a chilling climate, Amnesty International said today.

    In the context of the referendum, the authorities have arbitrarily arrested scores of people, have cancelled or disrupted peaceful assemblies and took off the air a television station in recent weeks, marking just the most recent undue restrictions on the rights to freedom of expression, peaceful assembly and association.

    “If people cannot speak their minds freely or take part in political activities without fear, how can they meaningfully engage in this referendum?” said Josef Benedict, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for South East Asia and the Pacific.

    “What we are seeing are not temporary measures that create peace and order as the authorities have argued, but a constant criminalisation of peaceful dissent designed to silence views that the authorities do not like. Immediate and long overdue steps must be taken to lift restrictions and guarantee rights.”

    July 26, 2016

    Responding to the news on 26 July 2016 that three leading human rights defenders in Thailand -- including a current and former chair of Amnesty International Thailand --  have been formally charged with “computer crimes” and “criminal defamation” for publishing a report on torture committed by the country’s security forces, Amnesty International said:

    “The Thai authorities must immediately drop all charges against Somchai Homla-or, Anchana Heemmina, and Porpen Khongkaconkiet. It is not a crime to investigate human rights violations. The true injustice is that these three brave human rights activists are being punished for reporting on torture, while the soldiers who perpetrated these horrendous acts are being shielded from accountability,” said Champa Patel, Amnesty International’s Senior Research Adviser for South East Asia and the Pacific.

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    For media inquiries, please contact Jacob Kuehn in media relations

    613-744-7667, ext 236

    July 25, 2016

    The Thai authorities must immediately drop the criminal investigation against three of the country’s most prominent human rights activists, including the chair of Amnesty International Thailand, who could be charged tomorrow for documenting and publishing a report about torture by Thai security forces, the organization warned.

    Somchai Homla-or, Anchana Heemmina, and Porpen Khongkaconkiet, who was appointed Chair of the Amnesty International Thailand board last month, face the prospect of five years behind bars and a fine of US $4,800 if found guilty on charges of “criminal defamation” and “computer crimes”. The three are due to report to Pattani police station on 26 July.

    “At a time when the Thai government has promised to introduce anti-torture legislation, it is a cruel paradox that they are harassing activists for exposing the abhorrent practice,” said Salil Shetty, Secretary General of Amnesty International.

    June 20, 2016

    The Thai authorities must reverse their decision to charge three prominent human rights defenders with criminal defamation and computer crimes for documenting and publishing details of human rights violations in the country, Amnesty International said today.

    “Instead of using broad and vague laws to target human rights defenders, the Thai authorities should be following up on the reports of alleged torture and other ill-treatment, with a view to holding those responsible accountable,” said Audrey Gaughran, Amnesty International’s Director of Global Issues.

    The three well-known Thai activists, Somchai Homla-or, Pornpen Khongkhachonkiet, and Anchana Heemmima, have all been summoned to appear at Pattani Police station on 26 July 2016, to face charges of criminal defamation and violating the Computer Crimes Act.

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