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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. 

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    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.

    April 27, 2016

    Thailand’s military government is brazenly seeking to shut down debate ahead of a referendum on a draft constitution, Amnesty International said today.

    At least a dozen Facebook commenters have been detained or charged on 27 April under a draconian new Order issued by the head of the military government. The arrests come after they commented on the controversial draft of a new constitution Thailand’s military government is seeking to impose.

    The Facebook users who were charged under the law now face up to 10 years in prison and a fine of 200,000 baht ($5,715).

    “If ordinary people cannot comment on a Facebook post without facing the threat of 10 years behind bars and a hefty fine, what hope is there for any open and honest debate on the military government’s draft constitution?” said Josef Benedict, Amnesty International’s Director of Campaigns for South East Asia.

    December 24, 2015

    Authorities in Thailand must ensure an independent, transparent and thorough examination of allegations of torture by police made by two men who today were found guilty of murder, Amnesty International said.

    The Koh Samui Provincial court today found  Zaw Lin and Win Zaw Tun (both Myanmar nationals) guilty of the murder of the British tourists Hannah Witheridge and David Miller in September 2014 and sentenced them to death. The pair’s defence team plans to appeal the judgment.  

    The two Myanmar nationals claimed that during their interrogation police tortured them including by stripping, beating, kicking and threats of electric shocks to extract “confessions”. The presiding judge dismissed the allegations, stating that there was no evidence that torture took place, without providing any further information.

    December 23, 2015
    The Thai Supreme Court’s decision to uphold a guilty verdict against the director of an online news site sets an appalling precedent for freedom of expression - particularly online - in a climate where official contempt for free speech has hit new lows, Amnesty International said.   The Supreme Court today upheld the guilty 2012 verdict by the Court of First Instance against Chiranuch Premchaiporn, director of independent news site Prachatai (“Free People”), for not removing comments from the website which authorities characterised as insulting to the monarchy. Since the verdict in 2012, Prachatai has suspended its online forum.   The Supreme Court also upheld Chiranuch Premchaiporn’s punishment of a one-year suspended prison sentence and a fine of 30,000 Baht (USD830) under the Computer Crimes Act in May 2012, reduced to eight months’ imprisonment and a 20,000 Baht (USD550) for cooperation.  
    December 09, 2015

    Thailand must stop using the lèse majesté law to criminalize freedom of expression, Amnesty International said today as the US Ambassador to the country faced a police investigation for alleged defamation of members of the Thai royal family.

    Glyn Davies has been accused of alleged lèse majesté offences over comments he made last month expressing concern at the lengthy jail sentences handed down to those convicted of breaking Thailand’s royal defamation law.

    “The authorities’ vicious application of the lèse majesté law has left dozens of individuals in jail for the peaceful exercise of their rights, with some facing military trials without the right of appeal,” said Audrey Gaughran, Amnesty International’s Senior Director of Research.

    “The fact that allegations of lèse majesté can be made for raising legitimate concerns highlight the current absurd extremes of Thailand’s restrictions on freedom of expression.”

    December 07, 2015

    The arrest of a group of 37 activists in Thailand ahead of a planned anti-corruption protest is the latest evidence that the country’s military government is using arbitrary powers of detention to silence peaceful activism, Amnesty International said today.

    The group of 36 students and a lawyer were detained on Monday morning while travelling by train to Rajabhakti Park in Hua Hin, central Thailand, to attend a demonstration against alleged military corruption.

    The authorities detached their train compartment en-route and forcibly removed some of the activists from the carriage before being taking them into custody.  All the activists were later released.

    “These heavy-handed and completely unjustifiable arrests highlight Thailand’s need to remove the military’s powers of arbitrary detention, which are being used to harass and criminalize peaceful dissent,” said Champa Patel, Amnesty International’s Southeast Asia and Pacific regional office director.

    December 03, 2015

    Ahead of a regional meeting hosted by Thailand tomorrow, Amnesty International calls on the governments of Bangladesh, Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar and Thailand to prioritise protection of the human rights of migrants and refugees in any action directed at combating human trafficking and managing irregular migration. The government of Thailand is hosting the 2nd Special Meeting on Irregular Migration in the Indian Ocean on 4 December 2015 in Bangkok.

    In May 2015, thousands of people from Myanmar and Bangladesh were subjected to horrific abuses at the hands of boat crews in the Bay of Bengal and the Andaman Sea. Abuses included killings, beatings and being kept in inhuman and degrading conditions. Following the crackdown on trafficking and smuggling by the Thai authorities, crews abandoned the boats and refugees and migrants were left stranded at sea because of governmental inaction and refusal to take in people, before eventually being granted temporary shelter in Indonesia and Malaysia.

    September 01, 2015

    The acquittal of two journalists in Thailand -  on trial for reproducing parts of an article on human trafficking – is a welcome move for freedom of expression, but the two should never have had to stand trial in the first place, Amnesty International said.

    The online news outlet Phuketwan’s editor Alan Morison and reporter Chutima Sidasathian were today found not guilty of for criminal defamation and for violating a provision of the Computer Crime Act. The measure penalizes importing forged or false digital information in a manner likely to cause harm to a third party or the public.

    The charges – brought following a complaint by the Thai Royal Navy - stem from one paragraph copied from a Pulitzer Prize-winning article by Reuters, that examined Thailand's role in the trafficking of Rohingya migrants, published in 2013.

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