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Thailand: Activist's Bail Revoked for Writing a Facebook Comment

    Friday, December 30, 2016 - 10:19

     

    UDPATE: On 1 February, on the expiry of his detention order, authorities are due to ask the courts permission to continue the detention of law student Jatupat Boonpattararaksa who may face up to 15 years’ imprisonment for posting a BBC article on Facebook. The Khon Kaen Provincial Court revoked his bail on the basis they considered his subsequent social media comments that satirised authorities to be a threat to security.

    Due to his detention, Jatupat Boonpattararaksa was unable to attend a final law examination, which is required in order for him to graduate. While the Khon Kaen Provincial Court has allowed him to sit the exam in prison, leaving it to Khon Kaen University to arrange a date with prison officials, no such steps appear to have been taken. Please keep pressing the Thai authorities to release Jatupat and drop the charges against him. (January 27 2017)

     

    Activist Jatupat Boonpattararaksa may face up to 15 years’ imprisonment for posting a news article online. On 22 December authorities revoked his bail – allegedly for making joking comments on social media – and detained him in Khon Kaen Central Prison in north-eastern Thailand.

    Final year law student and activist Jatupat Boonpattararaksa (also known as Pai) was detained on 3 December and charged with violating Article 112 of the Thai Penal Code – Thailand’s lèse majesté law - and the Computer Crimes Act for sharing on his Facebook account a BBC Thai article published on 1 December and entitled “Profile: Thailand’s new King Vajiralongkorn”. He was released on a 400,000 Baht (US$ 11,100) bail on 4 December.

     

    On 22 December the Khon Kaen Provincial Court allowed Khon Kaen Police Station’s request for his bail to be revoked on the basis that his social media comments satirized authorities. After being released on bail Jatupat Boonpattararaksa wrote a comment on his Facebook account stating that “The economy is bad so authorities take my bail money”. Police officers at the hearing also stated that this statement may “cause misunderstanding” for his 4,000 Facebook followers, he had not deleted his original post of the BBC article, and there was a risk that he would carry on posting such messages that they consider would “cause more damage.”

     

    Jatupat Boonpattararaksa may face up to 15 years’ imprisonment for sharing the BBC article. He remains detained in Khon Kaen Central Prison in north-eastern Thailand. On 22 December, his request for bail – which referred to the fact that he has a university exam on 16 January 2017 – was refused by the court.

     

     

    Please send a letter, fax, and/or email without delay. (Postage is $2.50.)

    * Use Dear Minister for your letter to the Minister of Justice and Dear Commissioner General for the second authority. 

    * Tell them something about yourself to make your message unique.

    * Urge the authorities to release Jatupat Boonpattararaksa immediately and unconditionally and stop all criminal proceedings against him.

    * Express concern that Jatupat Boonpattararaksa is being targeted solely for the peaceful exercise of his rights to freedom of expression, association and assembly.

    * Call on authorities to uphold their international obligations to protect and fulfil the right to freedom of expression, including online.

     

    Address your messages to

    Minister of Justice

    Suwaphan Tanyuvardhana

    Ministry of Justice

    Government Centre Building A

    120 Moo 3

    Chaengwattana Road,

    Bangkok 10210, Thailand

    Fax:                 011 66 2953 0503

    Salutation:     Dear Minister

     

    Commissioner General of Royal Thai Police  

    Pol. Gen Chakthip Chaijinda

    Royal Thai Police Headquarters

    Rama 1 Rd, Pathum Wan

    Bangkok, 10330

    Thailand

    Fax:                 011 66 2251 4739

    Salutation:     Dear Commissioner General

     

     

    Please send a copy to both: 

    Minister of Foreign Affairs

    HE Don Pramudwinai

    Ministry of Foreign Affairs

    Sri Ayudhya Road

    Bangkok 10400, Thailand

    Fax:                 011 66 2643 5320 / 011 66 2643 5314

    Email:             minister@mfa.go.th

     

    His Excellency Vijavat Isarabhakdi

    Ambassador, The Royal Thai Embassy

    180 Island Park Drive

    Ottawa, Ontario K1Y 0A2

    Fax:                 (613) 722-6624

    Email:             contact@thaiembassy.ca

     

     

     

    ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

     Jatupat Boonpattararaksa is a prominent activist who already faces charges for his peaceful protests for community rights and democracy, in violation of an official ban on “political” gatherings of five or more persons, as well as for handing out materials urging voters to reject the draft constitution, and participating in a forum to discuss Thailand’s draft constitution. He may face up to forty years’ imprisonment should he be prosecuted in multiple cases for the peaceful exercise of his rights to freedom of expression, association and assembly. He was previously released from 19 days of detention on 23 August 2016. See UA 191/16, available at: https://www.amnesty.org/en/documents/ASA39/4644/2016/en/

     

    Since taking power in a May 2014 coup, Thailand’s military government has used the criminal justice system to harass activists and perceived critics of their rule, in violation of their obligations under international human rights law. They intensively targeted online speech as part of a broader crackdown on the rights to freedom of expression, association and peaceful assembly. Scores of individuals – including politicians, musicians, poets, bloggers and editors – have been arrested or imprisoned for peaceful online expression, chiefly on Facebook for their public status updates, “likes”, shares and private messages. Many of these individuals have been subjected to unfair trials in military courts under charges of computer crimes, sedition and offences against the monarchy, and some have been convicted and sentenced to decades of imprisonment.

     

    Under Article 112 of the Penal Code – Thailand’s lèse majesté law – anyone who "defames, insults or threatens the king, the queen, the heir-apparent or the regent" will be punished with between three and 15 years in prison. It has been used to penalise the peaceful expression of opinions, in tandem with the Computer Crimes Act (2007), which allows for up to five years’ imprisonment and/or a fine of 100,000 baht for anyone who puts material online that is related with an offence against Thailand’s security.

     

    Restrictive amendments were passed in December 2016 to the controversial cybercrime law – the Computer Crimes Act (2007) (see UA 225/16, available at: https://www.amnesty.org/en/documents/ASA39/4944/2016/en/ ) – which is already regularly used to prosecute and punish peaceful Facebook users. The amendments still allow for the prosecution of individuals and webhosts for the peaceful online exercise of rights guaranteed under the country’s international human rights obligations, and fail to address the law’s inconsistency with these obligations, including on privacy. They also expand official investigatory powers for online activities, including by requiring service providers to retain user data for up to two years. The amendments expand both judicial powers of censorship of materials considered “false”, or damaging persons or the public and official powers to censor materials that are not illegal, without any judicial authorization.

     

    If you wish to receive updates on this case, email urgentaction@amnesty.caIn the subject line, write “Keep me updated on UA 290 Jatupat Boonpattararaksa”.

     

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    Please send a letter, fax, and/or email without delay. (Postage is $2.50.)

    * Call on the Israeli authorities to release Ahmad Azmi Abdurrahman Hanatsheh and all others who have been placed under administrative detention when they were under 18, unless they are charged with a recognizable offence and tried in proceedings that adhere to international standards of juvenile justice.

    * Call on them to ensure all child administrative detainees are allowed regular visits from their family and lawyers and kept separately from adults at all times, unless this is counter to their best interests, in line with international standards of juvenile justice.

    * Urge them to take immediate steps to end the practice of administrative detention.

     

    Address your messages to

    Minister of Defence

    Avigdor Liberman                        

    Ministry of Defence                  

    37 Kaplan Street, Hakirya

    Tel Aviv 61909, Israel

    Email:            minister@mod.gov.il and pniot@mod.gov.il

    Fax:               011 972 3 691 6940

    Salutation:     Dear Minister

     

    Commander of the IDF – West Bank

    Major-General Roni Numa

    GOC Central Command

    Military Post 02367, Battalion 877

    Israel Defense Forces, Israel

    Fax:           011 972 2 530 5741 and

          011 972 2 530 5724

    Salutation:  Dear Major-General Roni Numa 

     

    Minister of Public Security

    Gilad Erdan

    Kiryat Hamemshala

    PO Box 18182

    Jerusalem 91181, Israel

    Fax:               011 972 2 584 7872     

    Email:            gerdan@knesset.gov.il

    Salutation:     Dear Minister

     

    Please send a copy to

    His Excellency Rafael Raul Barak

    Ambassador for Israel

    50 O'Connor Street, Suite 1005

    Ottawa, Ontario KIP 6L2

    Fax:                 (613) 750-7555

    E-mail:           info@ottawa.mfa.gov.il

     

     

     

     

    ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

     

    Ahmad Azmi Abdurrahman Hanatsheh, whose current administrative detention order expires on 31 March 2017, was in the 11th grade when he was arrested. Ahmad Azmi Abdurrahman Hanatsheh’s father, Azmi Abdurrahman Hanatsheh, suffers from ill health and so relied on his son for support. He spoke to Amnesty International about his son’s ongoing detention and called for his immediate release, adding he does not know why his son is being held or when he will be released. “Ahmad is a child”, he said, “He shouldn’t be held indefinitely in prison. If he did anything wrong he should be sent for rehabilitation. He needs support and help; not to be locked up in prison alone away from us.” In tears, he added: “I am going through such a hard time. I used to depend on Ahmad for everything. Now I have no one, I miss him and need him by my side. My health has deteriorated since he was imprisoned and it has devastated me emotionally and physically.”

     

    Administrative detention – ostensibly introduced as an exceptional measure to detain people who pose an extreme and imminent danger to security – is used by Israel as an alternative to the criminal justice system to arrest, charge and prosecute people suspected of criminal offences, or to detain people who should not have been arrested at all. Orders can be renewed indefinitely and Amnesty International believes that some Palestinians held in administrative detention by Israel are prisoners of conscience, held solely for the peaceful exercise of their right to freedom of expression and association. Since October 2015, violence in Israel and the OPT has increased dramatically. As during other periods of heightened tension in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, the Israeli authorities responded by carrying out mass arrests, and issuing more and more administrative detention orders, including a resumption of its use against children. According to Israeli human rights organization B’Tselem, there were 644 administrative detainees by the end of August 2016 compared to 341 in August 2015. While dozens of Palestinian children were administratively detained between 2004 and 2008, numbers declined steadily until December 2011, when there was only one. In October 2015, three 17-year old Jerusalem ID holders, became the first children to be administratively detained in almost four years. At the end of August 2016, there were 10 children held in administrative detention. Ahmad Azmi Abdurrahman Hanatsheh is currently the only child who remains administratively detained.

     

    Another individual arrested in November 2016 at the age of 17 is also currently being held under an administrative detention order. He spent his eighteenth birthday in prison.

    According to international human rights law, detention of children must only be used as a measure of last resort and for the shortest appropriate time and appropriate alternatives to detention must be made available. Child administrative detainees in Israel are denied their right to challenge their detention before a court “or other competent, independent and impartial authority” and “the right to a prompt decision on any challenge" in line with Israel’s obligation under the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. Their rights to adequate protection as children have been flouted including by being held alongside adults.

     

     

    If you wish to receive updates on this case, email urgentaction@amnesty.caIn the subject line, write “Keep me updated on UA 36/17 Israel/OPT”.

     

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