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    July 18, 2018

    The Thai authorities must recognise that the death penalty has no place in any criminal justice system and halt any plans to carry out further executions, said Amnesty International, a month after the state carried out its first execution in almost nine years.

    In an open letter to Thailand’s Minister of Justice, the global human rights organization called on the government to abolish the death penalty after a 26-year-man was executed by lethal injection for aggravated murder on 18 June 2018. It was the first execution since August 2009.

    “No matter what the crime, who the prisoner is or the method of execution, nothing can justify the use of the death penalty. It is a despicable punishment that has no place in any criminal justice system”, said Katherine Gerson, Amnesty International’s Thailand Campaigner.

    July 05, 2018

    Responding to news that two academics and two students from Chiang Mai University were charged on Wednesday, along with a writer, with ‘holding an unlawful political gathering’ after they were photographed at a private academic conference with a banner protesting military surveillance of the event, Katherine Gerson, Amnesty International’s Thailand campaigner said:

    “These absurd charges would be laughable were it not for the potentially grave consequences for those involved, and what they say about the parlous state of the rights to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly in Thailand.

    “All these students and academics did was make a peaceful, satirical comment about the heavy military presence at a university conference. For this, they could face up to six months in jail under a repressive decree introduced by the military government. Pushing this case through the judicial system highlights the crippling measures authorities are instituting to silence academics and gag any form of dissent.

    June 22, 2018
    DOWNLOAD PDF OF UA 119 HERE
     

    On 18 June 2018, Thai prison authorities carried out the country’s first execution in nearly a decade. Amnesty International fears that others on death row may be at imminent risk after receiving unconfirmed reports that prisoners have, in recent weeks, had their applications for a royal pardon rejected.  

    Theerasak Longji, 26 years old, was executed by lethal injection at Bang Kwang Central Prison between 3 and 6pm on 18 June 2018. While the execution was announced to the public later on 18 June by the Director General of the Department of Corrections of Thailand, Theerasak Longji’s family told a national media outlet that they had not been notified in advance of the scheduled execution and were not given the chance of a last visit with their relative. Theerasak Longji was only allowed one phone call with his wife shortly before the execution was carried out. He was convicted of, and sentenced to death for, the murder of a 17 year old boy in July 2012.

    May 31, 2018

    Reacting to the Bangkok South Criminal Court’s decision to overturn its conviction of Andy Hall, a British migrant rights worker found guilty of criminal defamation in September 2016 for his work on a report into the abuse of migrant workers’ rights in Thailand, Katherine Gerson, Amnesty International’s Campaigner on Thailand, said:

    “This successful appeal is very welcome, and it underlines how the original conviction against Andy Hall was an abuse of justice that should never have been allowed.

    “Unless followed by legislative and policy changes, however, this decision will do little to compensate for a system that allows for the targeting of human rights activists who dare to stand up against companies involved in abusive practices.

    “The Thai government must work to repeal all criminal defamation laws and take measures to protect both the rights of migrant workers and the freedom of expression of those who are defending their rights.”  

    Background

    May 22, 2018

    As the date draws near for the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) to fulfil its promise to lift restrictions on political activities in June 2018, in place since the military coup of 22 May 2014, Katherine Gerson, Amnesty International’s Campaigner on South East Asia, said:

    “The sweeping and wholly unjustified restrictions on human rights put in place by the NCPO in the wake of the coup were supposed to be exceptional and temporary measures. Four years on and countless abuses later, they remain firmly in place and are relentlessly deployed by authorities.

    “After backtracking on previous promises, it’s vital that the NCPO delivers on its pledge to lift restrictions on political activities by June. But, taken alone, this move goes nowhere near far enough.

    March 06, 2018

    Sirikan Charoensiri shows the ink on her fingers after police asked her to submit her fingerprints at Bangkok’s Chanasongkram Police Station ©Banrasdr

    DOWNLOAD PDF HERE



    Sirikan Charoensiri [pronounced Sirigan Jaroo-ensiri] is a lawyer. Lawyers give advice to people about the law and use the law to fix things that have gone wrong. 

    Sirikan is also a human rights defender. When the government tries to silence people who speak out about injustice, she uses her job as a lawyer to protect them. 

    In June 2015, some students organized a gathering to protest how police and military officers had used too much force against fellow students in an earlier protest. Sirikan knew the police and military would not like any criticism and thought there could be trouble. She decided to go with the students to monitor their treatment during the protest and to be close by in case any student needed a lawyer.  

    February 22, 2018
    Amnesty International publishes State of the World’s Human Rights report for 2017 to 2018 “Last year our world was immersed in crises, with prominent leaders offering us a nightmarish vision of a society blinded by hatred and fear. This emboldened those who promote bigotry, but it inspired far more people to campaign for a more hopeful future,” says Salil Shetty, head of Amnesty International

    The world is reaping the terrifying consequences of hate-filled rhetoric that threatens to normalize massive discrimination against marginalized groups, Amnesty International warned today as it launched its annual assessment of human rights.

    Nevertheless, the organization found that a growing movement of both first-time and seasoned activists campaigning for social justice provides real hope of reversing the slide towards oppression.

    The report, The State of the World’s Human Rights, covers 159 countries and delivers the most comprehensive analysis of the state of human rights in the world today.

    January 31, 2018

    The Thai military government must end its far-reaching crackdown on peaceful demonstrations, Amnesty International said today as nine activists - including the first person arrested for protesting after the military coup in 2014 - are facing criminal proceedings.

    They join hundreds of people who have been harassed or jailed simply for speaking out peacefully against military government or its policies over the past three years. Just yesterday, authorities announced plans to charge a further seven activists with sedition for staging pro-democracy protests.

    "Thailand's military rulers are not only continuing to tie up hundreds of real or perceived critics with long-running criminal proceedings, but have escalated a crackdown on peaceful dissent in recent months. Authorities must honour their promise to lift the absurd and unjustifiable restrictions they have now been imposing for almost four years, ostensibly in the name of national security," said James Gomez, Amnesty International's Director for Southeast Asia and the Pacific.

    December 07, 2017

    Following the decision today by the Bangkok Military Court to postpone a decision on whether to indict Sulak Sivaraksa, on charges of lèse majesté for comments he made about a battle in 1593, James Gomez, Amnesty International’s Director of Southeast Asia and the Pacific, said:

    “To prosecute a scholar for comments he made about a battle that took place more than four centuries ago would be patently absurd. This case is an ugly reminder of the Thai authorities’ increasing use of the lèse majesté law as a tool of suppression.

    “Aside from being an outrageous attack on freedom of expression and academic freedom, Sulak Sivaraksa’s case appears to be based on a wilful misinterpretation of the existing repressive law on lèse majesté. While it should doubtless be abandoned in its entirety, the law as it currently stands does not apply to historical members of the monarchy.

    “The Thai authorities must end their gross misuse of this law and immediately drop these ridiculous charges.”

    Background

    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.”

    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.

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