Prachatai English

Graffiti painter sentenced to 3 years for royal defamation

Prachatai English - Thu, 2023-09-28 23:18
Submitted on Thu, 28 Sep 2023 - 11:18 PMPrachatai

Cover photo: Thai Lawyers for Human Rights

A 20-year-old man has been sentenced to three years in prison on a royal defamation charge after allegedly painting graffiti about monarchy reform during a protest at Din Daeng on 13 September 2021.

On 28 September 2023, the criminal court sentenced Weeraphap “Rif” Wongsaman to 3 years in prison without suspension, according to Thai Lawyers for Human Rights.

The graffiti read ‘The monarchy should be reformed to be under the constitution’. The court stated that the painted message included offensive words and showed the intention to insult the King, causing damage to the King.

On the same day, the criminal court issued an order to submit Weeraphap’s bail request to the appeal court for consideration. The process takes 2-3 days, during which time Weeraphap is to be detained at the Bangkok Remand Prison.

Weeraphap participated in the protest at the Din Daeng intersection on 13 September 2021. He was arrested on 15 September 2021 while eating noodles and was taken to Chaiyapruek Police Station in Nonthaburi Province to file the report. He was then detained at Paholyothin Police Station in Bangkok. Weeraphap denied the allegation.

In addition to the royal defamation charge, he faced other four charges: violating the Emergency Decree, participating in a gathering of more than 10 people, refusing to disperse after an official order, and obstructing police operations. All four charges were dismissed.

A witness said based on appearance and clothing in a video clip from that day compared to pictures on Weeraphap’s social media, Weeraphap was identified as the perpetrator.

Another witness, who is an inquiry officer in this case, stated that he solely knew Wiraphap as the perpetrator from the report. When asked to examine the picture in the report, he could not confirm whether it was actually Weeraphap or not.

Weeraphap insisted that on the day of the incident, he did not participate in the protest and claimed that the person in the report was not him.

NewsWeeraphap WongsamanThai Lawyers for Human Rights (TLHR)royal defamation lawDin Daeng protestsgraffiti
Categories: Prachatai English

Park officials acquitted of activist’s murder

Prachatai English - Thu, 2023-09-28 22:14
Submitted on Thu, 28 Sep 2023 - 10:14 PMPrachatai

The Central Criminal Court for Corruption and Misconduct Cases has dismissed murder charges against four national park officials charged for the alleged abduction and murder of indigenous rights activist Porlajee “Billy” Rakchongcharoen, citing insufficient evidence.

Pornpen Khongkachonkiet (Center) with Porlajee's widow Pinnapa Pruksapan (second from right) after the verdict was delivered. (Photo from ไข่แมวชีส)

A community and indigenous rights activist and a leader of the Bang Kloi indigenous Karen community, Porlajee was last seen on 17 April 2014, after he was detained by then-Superintendent of Kaeng Krachan National Park Chaiwat Limlikitaksorn and four other officials for allegedly foraging for wild honey. Chaiwat insisted he only held Porlajee for questioning before letting him go and denied any involvement in his disappearance.

Before his death, Porlajee had been campaigning for the Bang Kloi community’s right to return to the original location of their village at Chai Phaen Din in the Kaeng Krachan forest, to live according to their traditional way of life. He had also been campaigning for the community to be compensated for the damage caused during a forced evacuation in 2011, when park and military officials raided the Bang Kloi Bon and Chai Phaen Din villages and burned down their houses and rice barns.

In September 2019, fragments of a human skull were found in a 200-litre oil drum in the Kaeng Krachan Dam, along with 2 steel rods and pieces of charcoal. The bone fragments were later confirmed to be Porlajee’s by DNA testing, leading to speculation by DSI officers that his body was burned to destroy evidence.

Chaiwat, now Director of the National Parks Office in the Department of National Parks, Wildlife, and Plant Conservation and three other park officials were charged with pre-meditated murder and indicted in August 2022 for their alleged involvement in Porlajee’s abduction and death  The trial began on 24 April, 9 years after Porlajee went missing.

Before the trial, civil society organisations demanded that the four park officials be suspended to ensure that the trial will be handled properly. The Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment did not respond to the demand.

The Central Criminal Court for Corruption and Misconduct Cases ruled today (28 September) to dismiss the charges against the four officials, citing insufficient evidence proving that they abducted and murdered Porlajee. The Court also noted that it does not believe Porlajee is dead as the bone fragments cannot be conclusively proven to be his and the prosecution did not present enough evidence proving that he has died.

However, the Court found Chiwat guilty of misconduct for not recording Porlajee’s arrest and not handing him over to the local police to be charged for being in possession of wild honey. Chaiwat was sentenced to 3 years in prison, but was later granted bail in order to appeal the case.

The remaining three officials were not found guilty of misconduct since the Court ruled that they were only following Chaiwat’s order.

Chaiwat was previously suspected of involvement in the killing of community rights activist and former Pheu Thai MP candidate Tassakamon Ob-om, who had been campaigning for the Bang Kloi community. Tassakamon was shot and killed on 10 September 2011, just three years before Porlajee’s disappearance. Chaiwat was charged with pre-meditated murder, but was later acquitted.

Pornpen Khongkachonkiet, Director of the Cross-Cultural Foundation, said after the verdict was delivered that it is possible to appeal the sentence, but the legal team has to first study the ruling in detail. She also said that they will have to discuss with the DSI and the public prosecutor on how to seek more evidence.

After 9 years, the case has gone back to square one. Pornpen said that although Porlajee has been missing and was last seen in the custody of the park officials, the Court did not believe that he has died, and so the authorities must take responsibility for Porlajee’s family and community by finding the answer as to what happened to him.

Pornpen noted that the DSI were responsible for testing the bone fragments and found that the DNA matched Porlajee’s relatives. She said that his family is distraught by the Court’s ruling that the bones were not his, as the authorities are going back and fourth on whether he is dead or not. This is a feeling faced by families of enforced disappearance victims, she said, while no one is being held accountable for the disappearance.

Porlajee’s widow Pinnapa Pruksapan told reporters she had nothing else to say but that she wanted to know where Porlajee went – a question she has been asking for the past 9 years and for which she has never received an answer.

Meanwhile, lawyer Preeda Nakpiw said that the legal team is likely to request an extension to the timeframe in which they are required to file an appeal, as there are several points in which they disagree with the court. He said that Porlajee’s family believes the state is responsible for protecting citizens’ lives, physical well-being and property, and that it needs to be pointed out during an appeal that the officials must explain whether they had released Porlajee and what happened to him.

CrCF President Surapong Kongchantuk said that the family intends to file a civil lawsuit against Chaiwat and the organization he is affiliated with for damages, and will be appealing the ruling on the murder charges. Surapong also said that Chaiwat must be dismissed from his official position immediately, since he has already been sentenced to prison for misconduct and is being accused of pre-meditated murder and concealing a body, which are serious offences.

Surapong said that the ruling in Porlajee's murder trial shows how necessary the anti-torture and enforced disappearance act is, as normal judicial process cannot find evidence that officials are responsible for enforced disappearance, and is not able to find a body or evidence of murder. The new law is therefore needed so that officials can be held accountable, as there would be no need to find a body and only evidence of an abduction would be needed. The Act would allow the justice system to improve in line with international laws. Although Surapong said that it is a shame the new law only recently came into effect, but it will help prevent state officials from committing crimes and make the legal proceedings more fair.

NewsPorlajee RakchongcharoenBang KloiKaeng KrachanIndigenous rightscommunity rightsenforced disappearanceChaiwat Limlikitaksorn
Categories: Prachatai English

Concerns raised over Anon Nampa’s detention

Prachatai English - Thu, 2023-09-28 14:07
Submitted on Thu, 28 Sep 2023 - 02:07 PMPrachatai

Following the post-sentencing detention of human rights lawyer and activist Anon Nampa for royal defamation, the Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders and the Move Forward Party have issued statements condemning Anon’s sentencing and raising concerns about freedom of expression.

Anon Nampa arriving at the Bangkok Remand Prison in a detention truck. (Photo by Ginger Cat)

Anon was found guilty of royal defamation yesterday (26 September) and sentenced to 4 years in prison. The charge was filed against him over a speech he gave during a protest on 14 October 2020, in which the Criminal Court ruled that he defamed the King by saying that if the protest were to be dispersed, it should only be at the order of the King.

The Criminal Court ruled to forward his bail request to the Appeal Court and Anon will be detained at the Bangkok Remand Prison until a ruling is made.

The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a partnership between the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) and the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT), issued a statement condemning Anon’s conviction, sentencing, and arbitrary detention  and the “ongoing judicial harassment against him, which seems to be only aimed at punishing him for his legitimate human rights activities and the exercise of his rights to freedom of expression and of peaceful assembly.”

The Observatory calls on the Thai government to immediately and unconditionally released Anon and other detained human rights defenders, and end the judicial harassment directed against them. It also asks people to write to the Thai government and Thai diplomatic representatives in their respective countries to demand that the physical integrity and psychological well-being of Anon and other pro-democracy activists be guaranteed, that they be immediately released; that judicial harassment against them be ended, and that the government guarantee freedom of speech and peaceful assembly for activists, instead of targeting them with the royal defamation law.

Meanwhile, Rep. Gregory W. Meeks, a ranking member of the US House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee, tweeted in response to a Reuters report of Anon’s sentence that “calling for political reform is not a royal insult.”  He also noted that Thai authorities are using the royal defamation law to “restrict legitimate political expression and silence critics.”

The Move Forward Party (MFP) also issued a statement raising concerns about the sentencing of Anon, another person imprisoned for a political expression which rightly should not be seen as defamatory of or threatening to the King.

The party said that a succession of Thai governments have turned a blind eye to how problematic the royal defamation law is. They note that in recent years, it has frequently been used to silence dissenters and eliminate political opponents  who dare to question the role of the monarchy in politics. They also believe that the wider public is now aware that the royal defamation law is part of the political conflict facing the country.

MFP said it is still committed to amending the royal defamation law in a manner that would not damage the position of the monarch but rather strengthen the relationship between the monarchy and the people. It is also preparing an amnesty bill to pardon those prosecuted for political expression under laws that have been used against critics of the government, including the royal defamation law, the sedition law, and the Computer Crimes Act.

MFP calls on the government under Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin to ensure that those facing charges for political expression are not unlawfully indicted and that the law is not enforced in a way that violates the people’s freedom. It noted that the police and the public prosecutor often indict those charged with royal defamation or sedition, burdening the defendants with the cost of going to court, even though they have the authority to dismiss these cases.

“(We are acting) not for any individual, but to return the rule of law to Thailand and restore the people’s faith and trust in the justice system and every core institution in the country,” said the statement, “because an injustice against one person is an injustice against every citizen.”

Anon is among the 9 people detained pending trial or appeal on a royal defamation charge. The 8 others are Wut, Wayha Saenchonchanasuk, Teepagorn, Warunee, Wat, Sopon Surariddhidhamrong, Udom, and Sombat Thongyoi.

NewsAnon NampaRoyal defamationSection 112lese majesteright to bailThe Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights DefendersMove Forward party
Categories: Prachatai English

Court orders police to pay damages to journalists shot with rubber bullets

Prachatai English - Thu, 2023-09-28 13:20
Submitted on Thu, 28 Sep 2023 - 01:20 PMPrachatai

The Civil Court has ordered the police to pay damages to two reporters shot with rubber bullets while covering a protest in July 2021, as the police did not take care and did not use non-lethal weapons in the proper way. However, the Court ruled that this was not a violation of press freedom or an attempt at intimidating the press to stop their reporting.

White tear gas smoke ahead of protesters on Pitsanulok Road on 18 July 2021

While covering a protest on 18 July 2021, Thanapong Kengpaiboon, a reporter for the online magazine Plus Seven, and Charnnarong Ua-udomchote, a photographer for the online newspaper The Matter, were shot with rubber bullets fired by crowd control police attempting to disperse protesters marching to Government House.

Thanapong was hit in the hip with a rubber bullet while covering the clash between protesters and crowd control police at the Phan Fa Lilat intersection at around 15.50. Charnnarong was hit in the left arm while covering the protest on the street opposite the Rachawinit School. Both said that they were visibly wearing the press armband issued by the Thai Journalists Association (TJA), which has been used to identify field reporters covering protests since 2020. Thanapong also said that the police issued no warning before firing rubber bullets.

They also said that the protesters were not violent at the time they were shot, but the police fired at them indiscriminately, and that they believe the police intentionally targeted journalists. A protester was also injured under the eye from a rubber bullet.

Peerapong Pongnak, a Matichon TV photographer, was also shot in the arm with a rubber bullet while covering the march to Government House via Ratchadamnoen Avenue, which was blocked by crowd control police and water cannon trucks.

Thanapong and Charnnarong filed a lawsuit with the Civil Court against the police for 1,412,000 baht in damages for their injuries, as well as court and lawyers’ fees. The suit also deamnds that the police issue a public apology to journalists affected by the use of force and members of the public, and declare that they will not use force against journalists or attempt to prevent journalists from doing their duties.

The Matter reported that on Tuesday (26 September) the Civil Court ordered the Police to pay Thanapong 42,000 baht in damages and 30,000 baht to Charnnarong. The Court ruled that the police did not take care in their operations. In Thanapong’s case, he was standing with other journalists who were not threatening the officers. Although Charnnarong was too far away for officers to see who they were shooting at, the court still ruled that they showed insufficient care, and that it believes he was shot with a rubber bullet despite the testimony of a police officer that the injury looks like one caused by being hit witha marble.

The Human Rights Lawyers Alliance, whose lawyers represented the two reporters, released the ruling on their Facebook page. They noted that although the Court ruled that the testimony of police witnesses did not match a video clip of the crackdown and that the police did not exercise caution during their operation, the police action was not a violation of press freedom or an attempt to intimidate members of the press to prevent them from reporting on protests, as evidence shows that news outlets continued to report on protests without interruption from the police. The Court also said that since some protesters were using slingshots and setting fire to objects, the police needed to launch a crowd control operation, and that it was normal that such an operation would also affect non-violent individuals present at the scene.

Has violence become normal for Thai journalists?

Thanapong and Charnnarong are not the only reporters injured during police crackdowns on pro-democracy protests, as 2020 -2021 saw many field reporters covering protests injured and arrested. Data collected by Phansasiri Kularb, lecturer at Chulalongkorn University’s Faculty of Communication Arts, shows that there were at least 34 instances in which a member of the press was injured while covering a pro-democracy protest between 2020 – 2021, at least 24 of which were due to the use of rubber bullets.

Presenting her research on the Thai media in political protests at a public panel discussion on press freedom yesterday (26 September), Phansasiri noted that reporters she interviewed told her that police officers deployed in protest sites in 2020 – 2021 were more strict and hostile than they had been during previous mass demonstrations, including the 2010 Red Shirt protests and the 2013 – 2014 protests by the People’s Democratic Reform Committee (PDRC).

At the protest at Sanam Luang on 20 March 2021, during which crowd control police deployed rubber bullets, tear gas, and water cannon indiscriminately against the crowd, Prachatai reporter Sarayut Tangprasert was shot in the back by a rubber bullet while livestreaming from the Kok Wua Intersection. He was also wearing the TJA press armband. Journalists from Channel 8 and Khaosod were also injured by rubber bullets during the same protest.

Sarayut later filed a lawsuit with the Civil Court against the Royal Thai Police and then-Police Chief Pol Gen Suwat Jangyodsuk for unlawful dispersal of the protest by firing rubber bullets, blocking the route to the nearest hospital and using excessive force on working journalists. He also asked the court for an emergency inquiry for an injunction. However, the court dismissed the case on the ground that they cannot issue an order controlling the police’s action at future protests, while the investigation into the officers involved was under the authority of the police.

Several reporters were also injured during a crackdown on a protest on 7 August 2021. Two reporters subsequently filed a request with the Civil Court for a temporary protection order. The Court ordered the police to exercise care in the control and dispersal of protests by taking into consideration the safety of the media.

After several reporters were injured and a citizen journalist was assaulted and arrested during a violent dispersal of a protest march that was heading towards the APEC meeting at the Queen Sirikit National Convention Centre (QSNCC) on 18 November 2022, The Matter filed a court challenge asking the Civil Court to rule whether senior police commanders had failed to obey the 7 August 2021 temporary injunction order. One of their reporters, Sutthipath Kanittakul, was assaulted by crowd control police while livestreaming the protest. 

The Matter said that the Civil Court did not summon police commanders to testify, instead ordering them to submit written testimony. However, the court said that reporters injured during the 18 November 2022 protest may file their own criminal or civil lawsuit.

Phansasiri said that reporters covering the 2020 – 2021 protests also faced other forms of restrictions on press freedom, including state surveillance and arrest. The National Broadcasting Telecommunications Commission (NBTC) also warned the media not to cover the 10-point demand for monarchy reform put forward by the activist group United Front of Thammasat and Demonstration at a protest on 10 August 2020, citing a Constitutional Court ruling that calling for monarchy reform is treasonous. Meanwhile, the media were becoming afraid of reporting about the protests as more activists were being charged with royal defamation.

She noted that there is still no systematic record of violence against journalists in Thailand, which makes it hard to see the threats, while individual media workers are often blamed for being in the wrong place at the wrong time or seen as collateral damage. This means that there are no systematic measures to prevent violence against journalists, especially violence committed by the state. There is also no clear result of government inquiries, granting impunity to those responsible.

The media industry also lacks labour protection, Phansasiri said, and outlets often do not encourage their employees to unionise. This means that media workers do not have the negotiating power, and protection is seen as unnecessary expense.

Newspress freedomViolence against journalistsstate violence
Categories: Prachatai English

Pol Gen Torsak Sukvimol is the new Police Chief

Prachatai English - Thu, 2023-09-28 11:37
Submitted on Thu, 28 Sep 2023 - 11:37 AM

The Royal Thai Police Commission yesterday passed, by a vote of 10 to 1, a resolution appointing Deputy Police Commissioner-General Pol Gen Torsak Sukvimol as the 14th Commissioner-General, succeeding Pol Gen Damrongsak Kittiprapas.

Torsak, who ranked fourth by seniority among the Deputy Police Commissioners-General, is the younger sibling of the Lord Chamberlain, Air Chief Marshal Satitpong Sukvimol, who also heads the Crown Property Bureau, the Siam Cement group and a number of large royally-connected corporations and is on the board of many more including the Siam Commercial Bank. ACM Satitpong is generally regarded as the most powerful official in the Palace.


The selection meeting, which took place at the National Police Headquarters, was chaired by Prime Minister and Finance Minister Srettha Thavisin.


The candidates competing for the Royal Thai Police's top post, ranked by seniority, were Pol Gen Roy Inkapairoj, Pol Gen Surachate ‘Big Joke’ Hakparn, Pol Gen Kittirat Phanphet and then Pol Gen Torsak.


In recent days, Pol Gen Surachate, once a strong contender, has faced controversy after members of his close team were accused of involvement in a ring of online gambling sites. Arrest warrants were issued for some of them.  The accusation led to a raid on Pol Gen Surachate's residence two days ago by Cyber Crime Investigation Bureau police backed up by a SWAT team.


Moreover, the outgoing chief Pol Gen Damrongsak yesterday ordered the transfer of eight members of Pol Gen Surachate’s police team to Police Headquarters, effectively removing them from their previous duties.


Meanwhile, moments before the media reported this decision by the Police Commission, some mass media outlets reported that it had been decided to postpone the appointment of the new Commissioner-General to October and appoint Pol Lt Gen Roy as Acting Commissioner-General. 

Categories: Prachatai English

Laid-off textile workers seek government aid over unpaid wages and severance pay

Prachatai English - Wed, 2023-09-27 23:35
Submitted on Wed, 27 Sep 2023 - 11:35 PMPrachatai

Cover photo: Chanakarn Laosarakham

Laid-off workers from two textile companies have submitted a letter to the PM, seeking financial support from the government as they have not received wages and severance pay from the companies.

Photo from Workers' Union

On 26 September 2023, a group of laid-off workers from the two textile companies, Alpha Spinning and AMC Spinning, and representatives from the Labor Network for Peoples Right gathered at Government House to submit a letter to the PM, requesting him to approve a budget to help the laid-off workers since the companies had failed to pay wages and severance pay according to the law.

Photo from Workers' Union

According to the Labor Network for Peoples Rights, the Ministry of Labour failed to enforce the law with these two companies, resulting in the employees losing the rights to which they are entitled. The government must take responsibility for this failure by approving a budget of 34 million baht as compensation for Alpha Spinning’s employees and 18 million baht for those of AMC Spinning.

The employees also called on the government to prosecute both criminal and civil charges against the companies to ensure that the employers will not violate the labour law in the future. In addition, they called for enhancement of unemployment benefits in light of the current cost of living and to safeguard employees’ income during unemployment.

Surin Kamsuk, representative from the Labour Union of Printed Packaging Industry, stated that some workers are in debt while some workers could find new jobs. However, it is difficult for those who are over 50 years old to find new jobs. He emphasised that the majority of the workers are still distressed and the compensation they are seeking is their rights.

Sia Jampathong, labour activist and MP from the Move Forward Party, also came to observe the gathering. He stated that officials blocked the entrance to the building with metal fences, preventing the workers from entering Government House.

Sia Jampathong

(Photo from Workers' Union)

He remarked that he hopes that the elected government will uphold freedom of expression as promised. But when it comes to a real situation, it seems to be problematic as the people were denied their rights by the police.

Sia stated that the workers want the government to provide compensation first and then mandate that the companies pay the workers since the workers themselves are unable to claim directly from the companies. They need to rely on state mechanisms. Sia added that initially they need financial support from the government to ease the current situation as the workers have been distressed for several months.

Sia mentioned that he brought up these issues in parliament but he has not seen any progress. He said he would question the Labour Minister and the PM on how they will address the issues. Sia noted that he does not want the same situation to happen in the future.

Somkid Chueakong, Deputy Secretary General to the prime minister, received the letter on behalf of the PM. He said there will be a meeting to discuss the issue and encouraged the workers to remain hopeful that Srettha Thavisin’s administration would take care of them with full effort.

Photo from Workers' Union

Somkid added that the Ministry of Labour will be handed over the issue from now on.

NewsLabourlabour lawSia JampathongSomkid ChueakongLabor Network for Peoples RightsSrettha ThavisinAlpha SpinningAMC Spinning
Categories: Prachatai English

Amnesty calls for justice in activist's murder trial

Prachatai English - Wed, 2023-09-27 18:31
Submitted on Wed, 27 Sep 2023 - 06:31 PMAmnesty International

Ahead of tomorrow (28 September)'s verdict for four national park officials charged for the enforced disappearance and murder of indigenous rights activist Porlajee "Billy" Rakchongcharoen, Amnesty International Thailand calls on the Thai authorities to hold to account those responsible for Porlajee's murder.

Ahead of the expected verdict on Thursday (28 September) for four people accused of involvement in the enforced disappearance and murder of Indigenous Karen human rights defender Pholachi ‘Billy’ Rakchongcharoen, Amnesty International’s Regional Researcher for Thailand Chanatip Tatiyakaroonwong said:

“Billy’s brave pursuit of justice cost him his life and put his family through a yearslong nightmare of heartbreak, obfuscation and lies as they searched for truth. They deserve to know the full story of what happened to him, and those responsible for this unimaginably horrific murder must be held to account.

“The upcoming and long-overdue verdict is an important test for the Thai judicial system, which has failed victims of enforced disappearances for far too long. The judiciary has now an opportunity to set a new standard when addressing enforced disappearances to ensure they align with international human rights law. Thai authorities also have a chance to show leadership by sending a message to officials working all over the country: that the culture of impunity ends now and enforced disappearances will no longer be tolerated.

“The new Thai government must also immediately accede to the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance (ICPPED), as well as the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (OPCAT). This commitment would show they are genuinely interested in ensuring that heinous crimes – like the ones against Billy – will not happen again and that those responsible will be swiftly brought to justice.”


Billy was last seen on 17 April 2014 leaving the Kaeng Krachan National Park located in Petchaburi Province, Thailand, where he was allegedly detained by park officials for the alleged illegal possession of wild bee honey.

At the time of his arrest, Billy was travelling to meet with Indigenous Karen villagers in preparation for an upcoming hearing in the villagers’ lawsuit against park officers for the forced evictions of local communities and burning of Karen homes. Billy was also carrying case files related to the lawsuit that have never been recovered.

Five years later, on 3 September 2019, the Department of Special Investigation (DSI) announced that Billy’s remains had been found in a burned oil barrel at the bottom of a reservoir in Kaeng Krachan National Park, where he was last seen in custody of the park officials. The department then advised the public prosecutor to indict the four park officials suspected of involvement in Billy’s arrest and detention, including the Chief Officer of the national park and three other officers.

Despite this unprecedented progress in the investigation, the public prosecutor from the Department of Special Litigation, Division 1 dropped all the charges recommended by the DSI in January 2020. In August 2020, the DSI appealed this decision to the Office of the Attorney-General (OAG). Two years later, another significant turning point took place in August 2022 as the OAG decided to indict the four suspects under five charges, including abducting and murdering Billy. The four men deny the charges.

Thailand recently adopted the Act on Prevention and Suppression of Torture and Enforced Disappearance, which came into effect in February 2023. Amnesty International has previously called for the Thai government to ensure the law is enforced effectively in line with international human rights law and standards. However, since the law took effect after the indictment of the four officers accused in the case of Billy, they could not be charged under the specific crime of enforced disappearance under this new law.

Despite this domestic law, the Thai government has not acceded to the ICPPED and OPCAT yet. According to the UN Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances, as of August 2022, there were 76 outstanding cases (70 males, 6 females) of enforced disappearance in Thailand.

Pick to PostPorlajee RakchongcharoenIndigenous rightscommunity rightsBang KloiKaeng Krachanenforced disappearanceAmnesty International
Categories: Prachatai English

Former Democrat deputy leader faces additional two years in prison for sex crime conviction

Prachatai English - Wed, 2023-09-27 13:51
Submitted on Wed, 27 Sep 2023 - 01:51 PMPrachatai

Prinn Panitchapakdi, former deputy leader of the Democrat Party, faces an additional two years imprisonment following a sexual assault conviction.

According to Kosonwat Intuchanyong, spokesperson for the Office of the Attorney General, on 25 September 2023, the Bangkok South Criminal Court delivered verdicts against Prinn in two separate sexual assault cases. One involving charges of public indecency was dismissed due to insufficient evidence.

Prinn was found guilty in a second case involving the sexual assault of a girl under the age of 15, however. He was sentenced to two years without suspension. The court ordered the sentence to run consecutively with the two years in prison he must serve for his conviction in an earlier sex crime case which concluded in August 2023.  As a result, he now faces a total of four years and eight months in prison.

The court granted Prinn temporary bail of 300,000 Baht.

On 10 August 2023, the Bangkok South Criminal Court delivered a verdict in a case in which Prinn was accused of sexually assaulting an 18-year-old woman.  In 2021, he reportedly used the ruse of career discussion and stock market guidance to deceive his victim at a Sukhumvit Soi 11 rooftop restaurant.

On 10 August, the court sentenced Prinn to two years and eight months in jail without suspension. The victim reported the case on April 2022. It was the first he faced.

NewsPrinn PanitchpakdiDemocrat Party
Categories: Prachatai English

Civil society network calls for repeal of anti-sex work law

Prachatai English - Tue, 2023-09-26 18:54
Submitted on Tue, 26 Sep 2023 - 06:54 PMAnna Lawattanatrakul

A civil society network is proposing the repeal of the 1996 Prevention and Suppression of Prostitution Act as part of a movement to legalise sex work and grant sex workers protection under the labour laws.

SWING's banners calling for the repeal of the 1996 Prevention and Suppression of Prostitution Act were placed in front of the press conference room.

The campaign was launched at a press conference last Wednesday (20 September) as part of a campaign to propose three gender justice laws by activists and civil society groups called the “Three Miracle Laws.”

Two other bills were also launched during the same press conference: a bill proposing amendments to the sections on marriage and family in the Civil and Commercial Code to allow marriage registration regardless of gender, and a gender recognition bill which would allow trans and non-binary people to change the gender marker on their official documents.

The proposed bill repealing the 1996 Prevention and Suppression of Prostitution Act states that the 1996 Act is a law that has been in use for a long time but has not been amended to fit with the changes in society. Since it criminalises sex work, the law leads to the stigmatization of and discrimination against sex workers, depriving them of protection under the labour laws, exposing them to extortion by state officials and preventing them from calling for their own rights when these are violated or exploited. The Act is therefore unconstitutional in that it violates a person’s right to bodily autonomy and free choice of employment.

The bill also states that enforcing the law to prevent sex work has not reduced the number of sex workers. Instead, it became an obstacle in the lives of those in the profession, and the 1996 Act should be repealed so that sex workers who willingly enter the profession may be protected like other professions.

Surang Chanyaem

Sex worker rights activist Surang Chanyaem, Director of the Service Workers In Group Foundation (SWING), said during the press conference that the 1996 Prevention and Suppression of Prostitution Act must be repealed because it renders illegal the chosen occupation of over 200,000 people and oppresses them. Meanwhile, sex workers are stigmatized and discriminated against, preventing them from speaking out for themselves. At the same time, Surang said, those who benefit from the criminalization of sex work have tried to stop the movement.

Surang said that questions have been raised against her and other advocates for their campaign to repeal the 1996 Act. They have been accused of wanting to encourage people to go into sex work, break up families, and promote human trafficking. Meanwhile, she said, sex workers are being arbitrarily arrested and had to spend most of their income on fines, and although some know they did nothing wrong, it has been difficult for them to talk about it.

SWING conducted a survey on law enforcement and criminal prosecution of sex workers between 25 – 31 May 2023 in Bangkok and Pattaya. They found that, among the 63 sex workers participating in the survey, 33 had been fined or arrested in the past year for charges such as loitering, carrying condoms at night, prostitution, pestering others in public, not carrying an ID, underage prostitution, and soliciting customers for prostitution. Some were also subjected to random drug tests.

Surang said that two other bills legalising sex works are being drafted, one by Ministry of Social Development and Human Security and another by political parties, both of which agreed that the 1996 Anti-Prostitution Act should be repealed and are drafting a new legislation to legalise sex work. While Surang said that she also believes the 1996 Act should be repealed, since it has been in use for over 27 years and because the law itself says that it was drafted because sex work is a result of economic issues and sex workers lack intelligence and education, she said that, as long as the Act remains, discrimination and dehumanization would exist, so the Act should be repealed and no other law should replace it. If sex workers commit a crime, then they should be prosecuted under existing criminal law like everyone else, so that they would be seen as equals. She also said that sex work should be seen as work, and so sex workers should be protected under existing labour protection law.

“I still feel that there is a long way to go, because there is an issue of attitude and morality that oppresses us,” Surang said. “I don’t know whose measure we’re using when we talk about morals, and obviously there is no way of measuring that is equal for each person, especially for those who disagree with us.”

Asked about obstacles on the road to decriminalization of sex work, Surang said they had been told that criminal laws cannot be repealed. However, she explained that there are still other laws in place to cover any criminal wrongdoings, such as child protection laws or anti-trafficking laws, and that the network is not intending to repeal the 1996 Act to make sex work completely unrestricted, but consenting adults who are not victims of human trafficking and who choose to be in sex work should not have to be restricted by a criminal law.

Surang said that SWING and its partners are ready to collect signatures and submit their bill, noting that they planned to go to parliament earlier but waited until a House Speaker was appointed due to concern about lack of support. Nevertheless, she said that, with activists working on the Marriage Equality Bill and the Gender Recognition Bill in the same campaign, they are ready to go ahead.

If it takes a long time to repeal the 1996 Act, Surang said the activists are planning to propose a ministerial regulation to grant sex workers protection under labour rights laws, and they have a network of legal advocates and academics ready to draft it. She noted that there is no need to repeal the 1996 Act before proposing a ministerial regulation, and although she said she knows there is going to be a lot of obstacles, she is prepared to answer any question coming her way.

Members of civil society groups joined the Three Miracle Laws press conference. Some are holding signs calling for the repeal of the 1996 anti-prostitution act. One sign says "sex work is work."

When asked by an audience member if the rest of the network is worried that their bills would be rejected because they include sex worker rights in their campaign, gender equality activist Chumaporn Taengkliang explained that the three bills must collect signatures separately and will be considered separately by parliament, but she believes that campaigning together would mean more exposure for every bill.

“As someone who works for marriage equality, getting to work with the courage of sex workers is a high honour,” she said. 

For Surang, joining the Three Miracle Laws campaign is the first time she felt that she is not fighting alone. In her years of advocating for sex worker rights, she said she felt that the issues facing sex workers were isolated from other social issues due to discrimination and social bias against people in the profession. This made is impossible for sex workers to speak for themselves and their own rights, while other obstacles prevented their movement from progressing.

“I started to change my mind and see that there is justice in this society. We are not alone, and today we’ve been invited to join our friends’ conversation. It makes me more confident that we are not alone,” Surang said.

“We are people just like others, so what we are working for now is that we don’t need anything more than anyone else. We want what everyone else has. We want to do our job without having a law hanging over us, like other professions. It controls us not in a positive way, but in a negative way, so this law should be removed, and there is no need for any new law to control us.”

NewsSurang ChanyaemService Workers In Group (SWING)Sex worker rightsSex workerlabour rights1996 Prevention and Suppression of Prostitution Act
Categories: Prachatai English

Human rights lawyer convicted of royal defamation

Prachatai English - Tue, 2023-09-26 18:43
Submitted on Tue, 26 Sep 2023 - 06:43 PMPrachatai

Human rights lawyer and activist Anon Nampa has been found guilty of royal defamation and sentenced to 4 years in prison for a speech he gave during a protest on 14 October 2020. He is now detained at the Bangkok Remand Prison while the Appeal Court considers his bail request.

Anon Nampa speaking at the 14 October 2020 protest

Anon was charged with royal defamation for a speech he gave during a protest on 14 October 2020, in which he demanded the resignation of then-Prime Minister Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha, a new constitution, and monarchy reform. Protesters marched to Government House, where they were forcibly dispersed in the early morning of 15 October after a severe State of Emergency was declared for Bangkok. A full week of mass demonstrations across the city followed.

For his role as a leader of the protest, Anon was charged with violation of the Public Assembly Act, the Emergency Decree, the Public Cleanliness Act and the Land Traffic Act, using a sound amplifier without permission, blocking a public road, and destruction of property. He was the only leader of the 14 October 2020 protest to be charged with royal defamation for a speech given during the protest.

The police accused Anon of royal defamation, claiming that he insulted the King by saying in his speech that, if the protest were to be dispersed, it can only be at the order of the King.

Anon testified during the trial that a large number of people joined the protest and he was concerned that the police would forcibly disperse them.  He noted that a group of protesters who gathering at the Democracy Monument on 13 October 2020 to wait for the mass protest the next day had already been dispersed by police, who arrested protest leaders and injured several protesters. He had reportedly also been told by a police officer that the protesters would be forcibly dispersed if the protest was not called off. He said that as a protest leader, he felt it was his responsibility to prevent loss of life, adding that he gave his speech with the sole intention of stopping a crackdown. He also told the court that he did not mention the monarchy at any other point during the protest and that protest demands were directed at the government and Gen Prayut.

The Ratchadapisek Criminal Court today (26 September) found Anon guilty of royal defamation and sentenced him to 4 years in prison. It also found him guilty of violating the Emergency Decree and fined him 20,000 baht. The rest of the charges were dismissed.

Thai Lawyers for Human Rights (TLHR) noted that representatives of the Embassies of Germany, Sweden, and Switzerland were observing the trial, along with MPs from the Move Forward Party and representatives of human rights organizations, including iLaw, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), and the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH).

At the court this morning (26 September), Anon said that the youth-led movement has changed the country so much that it would never be the same. He noted that people now believe in equality and are ready to change the country, adding that online discussions, street protests and the results of the last general election make it clear that people in many sectors now support democracy.

Anon thanked his supporters and promised to keep fighting from prison if he has to. He also said he expects to be brought to court often as he is still representing activists charged for participating in protests and that the fight is not over, no matter what the court rules.

He added that it is worth it if he has to go to jail for trying to prevent a crackdown on the 14 October 2020 protest as no protesters were killed during the march to Government House.

Anon is facing a total of 14 counts of royal defamation filed against him for protest speeches and Facebook posts about monarchy reform. Each count carries a prison sentence of 3 – 15 years.

The Human Rights Lawyers Association (HRLA) issued a statement yesterday (25 September) ahead of Anon’s court date calling for the right to bail.  It was signed by 137 civil society groups, activists, academics, lawyers, and members of the public. The statement noted an alarming trend of refusing bail for activists found guilty by the Court of First Instance on charges relating to pro-democracy protests. Their bail requests have often been forwarded to the Appeal Court, and they have been held in custody while waiting a ruling. The Appeal Court, in turn, has increasing denied bail, on the grounds that the individuals arrested are flight risks - unlikely in that most activist facing charges are not at risk of lengthy prison sentences.

The President of the Supreme Court has also previously issue a regulation saying that the Court of First Instance may grant bail to anyone given a prison sentence of less than 5 years who has never previously been sentenced to prison, has been granted bail by the Court of First Instance and the Appeal Court, and is not a flight risk or a danger to others. Under this regulation, there is no need for the Court of First Instance to forward the defendant’s bail request to the Appeal Court or the Supreme Court.

The statement said that Anon is a lawyer working to protect the rights of those going through the judicial process, that he believes in the justice system and is willing to prove his own beliefs through the judicial process as a defendant. Despite being denied bail several times, he has never been a flight risk even after being detained pending trial for 7 months.

HRLA and supporters of its statement believe that, given Anon’s ideals, dignity, and behaviour, he wants to exercise his right to fight the charges but will accept the final verdict, even if he is out on bail. They called on the presiding judge, the Chief Justice of the Criminal Court, and the judge responsible for hearing his bail request to remember that every defendant must be considered innocent until proven guilty, and that Anon and other activists facing political charges cannot be treated as guilty without a final verdict. They demanded that Anon be granted bail, noting that the justice system should not restrict freedom of expression but work instead to protect the rights of the accused.

Anon’s lawyers requested bail, offering a security of 200,000 baht. The bail request noted that Anon has never violated his bail condition and has never had his bail in this particular case revoked, so he should not be seen as a flight risk. His sentence is less than 5 years, therefore he should be allowed bail so he could appeal his charges, and there is no need for the request to be forwarded to the Appeal Court. He also has an 8-year-old daughter and a 10-month-old son, as well as elderly parents to care for, and his imprisonment would have adverse effects on his parents and children.

Nevertheless, the Court ruled to forward his bail request to the Appeal Court. He will be detained at the Bangkok Remand Prison until a ruling is made granting him bail. The order was signed by judge Parinya Sitaposa.

Anon’s lawyers have also requested that the Appeal Court hold a bail hearing before making a ruling.

Other than Anon, 8 people are detained pending trial or appeal on a royal defamation charge: Wut, Wayha Saenchonchanasuk, Teepagorn, Warunee, Wat, Sopon Surariddhidhamrong, Udom, and Sombat Thongyoi.

NewsAnon NampaSection 112lese majesteRoyal defamation14 - 15 October 2020 proteststudent protests 2020
Categories: Prachatai English

Chaithawat Tulathon appointed Move Forward Party leader

Prachatai English - Mon, 2023-09-25 16:33
Submitted on Mon, 25 Sep 2023 - 04:33 PMPrachatai

Chaithawat Tulathon, former Secretary-General of the Move Forward Party, has been chosen as the party’s new leader following Pita Limjaroenrat’s resignation. The party also appointed new spokespersons and a board of consultants.

A graduate of Chulalongkorn University’s Faculty of Engineering, Chaithawat previously worked for the People’s Information Center: the April-May 2010 Crackdowns (PIC), a network of activists and academics which worked on a fact-finding report about the April-May 2010 crackdown on the Red Shirt protests. He has also worked as a consultant for Thai Lawyers for Human Rights (TLHR) and as an editor for Same Sky Books, which publishes academic research and books about Thai politics. He was also a student activist and served as the Secretary-General of the Student Federation of Thailand between 1998 and 1999.

Chaithawat was a founder and Deputy Secretary-General of the now-defunct Future Forward Party. He later became the Move Forward Party’s Secretary-General. He was chosen as Move Forward’s new party leader during an extraordinary general meeting on Saturday (23 September).

The party also elected new executive board members. Apichat Sirisoontorn, Nakornpong Supanimittrakul, and Nateepat Kulsetthasith were appointed Secretary-General, Registrar, and Treasurer respectively. Meanwhile, Somchai Fangchonjit, Apisit Promrit, Bencha Saengchantra, and Suthep U-on were elected board members.

The party also voted to appoint a board of consultants. Pita was appointed chair of the consultant board, while Veerayooth Kanchoochat, the party’s economic policy researcher, and Decharut Sukkumnoed, Director of the policy-making group Think Forward Center, were appointed party consultants.

Phicharn Chaowapatanawong, Nutthawut Buaprathum, Supisarn Bhakdinarinath, and Sirikanya Tansakul, were appointed deputy party leaders. Surachet Pravinvongvuth, Nattacha Boonchaiinsawat, and Natthaphong Ruengpanyawut were appointed Deputy Secretaries-General.

Meanwhile, Parit Wacharasindhu was appointed the party’s new spokesperson. Karoonpon Tieansuwan and Pukkamon Nunarnan were appointed deputy spokespersons.

Chaithawat said after he was elected party leader that the new arrangement is temporary, as Pita’s suspension means that he is unable to take on the role of opposition leader, and that he and the new executive board are willing to step down once Pita’s suspension ended.

Section 106 of the current constitution stipulates that the leader of the opposition must be an MP from the party with the largest number of MPs with no members holding the office of the House Speaker or the Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives. Since the party has decided that it will be taking the role of opposition leader, which is crucial for setting the opposition’s direction, Chaithawat said that the new executive board will be having a discussion with MP Padipat Suntiphada, now serving as a Deputy House Speaker, in the coming weeks about his decision regarding the position. 

NewsChaithawat TulathonMove Forward party
Categories: Prachatai English

PM wraps up UNGA mission, foresees an estimated $5 billion surge in foreign investments

Prachatai English - Mon, 2023-09-25 14:51
Submitted on Mon, 25 Sep 2023 - 02:51 PMPrachatai

International conglomerates are expressing strong interest in investing in Thailand, which expects a $5 billion surge in investments, said Prime Minister and Finance Minister Srettha Thavisin in interview on 25 September upon his return to Thailand from the United Nations General Assembly.

Srettha said that even though it can be a challenge to estimate the value of future foreign investments in Thailand, citing industry or technology sectors like Tesla or Google as examples, he said the initial estimate is around $5 billion or 1.7 trillion baht.

The PM expects higher investments from the financial sector due to the potential for economic growth and Thailand's attractiveness, which can entice many other companies to invest further.

He added that foreign investors are not much concerned about Thailand's return to democracy but are more focused on the ease of doing business. Thailand is well-prepared for investment and open to feedback on needed legal or regulatory improvements.


During his trip, the PM delivered five speeches in meetings with various world leaders and representatives from two international organizations. He interacted with global companies such as Tesla, Google, Microsoft, Citibank, JP Morgan, and Estee Lauder. Srettha said these companies have expressed an interest in either investing or expanding their investments in Thailand.

The Prime Minister addressed UN concerns on political stability and emphasised the global importance of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals, adopted by more than 190 countries. The global crisis of climate change  was a key focus, alongside human rights and justice for refugees from conflict zones in neighbouring countries.

"One of my objectives in attending was to declare the standpoint that we are a democratic nation with the monarch as head of state. We are committed to pushing for greater citizen participation in governance," the Prime Minister stated.

The PM mentioned that during the upcoming APEC meeting in San Francisco, USA, he has scheduled meetings with several companies. Thai companies interested in expanding trade have also been invited. In addition to technology firms, financial institutions are important because foreign companies investing in Thailand often seek financial support.

The Prime Minister said he also met with FIFA representatives to discuss ASEAN's joint hosting of the 2032 FIFA World Cup. Thailand also seeks FIFA's support for grassroots football and youth development, with annual funding increased from $250,000 to $2 million .

Srettha also discussed the possibility of expanding the 10,000-baht digital wallet scheme beyond the current 4-kilometer radius to include districts or provinces. He mentioned that there might be reports he still has to look at as he has recently returned from an overseas mission.


Concerning the expansion to include districts or provinces, the PM acknowledged that an extension to provinces might inadvertently concentrate resources in urban areas, deviating from the initial goal of fostering growth in remote areas. He stated that the committee is assessing this issue, adding that he has no concern about this project.


The PM also dismissed the rumour about him appointing former PM Thaksin Shinawatra as an advisor, clarifying that if there were any matters to discuss, consultations could occur, similar to his consultations with senior civil servants. He cautioned against overinterpreting what he said in an interview.

"Don't interpret, just listen to what I say," he stated abruptly and left immediately afterward.

Categories: Prachatai English

Cabinet meeting confidentiality guidelines approved

Prachatai English - Mon, 2023-09-25 13:56
Submitted on Mon, 25 Sep 2023 - 01:56 PMPrachatai

The cabinet has approved confidentiality guidelines preventing unauthorised disclosure of information about cabinet meeting discussions to the media. The guidelines allows for government agencies to take disciplinary action against civil servants and press charges against anyone who damages national security by disclosing such information.

Several media outlets reported yesterday (21 September) that the cabinet has approved guidelines prohibiting the disclosure of official secrets from cabinet meetings to the media. The resolution was not listed in a cabinet meeting summary published on the government’s website, but appeared instead in the Secretariat of the Cabinet’s resolution database.

The guidelines, which were proposed by the Secretariat of the Cabinet, state that any classified documents related to cabinet meetings must be kept confidential and only disclosed with the approval of the secretary-general or deputy secretary-general of the cabinet.  The content of cabinet meeting discussions are also to be considered official secrets which cannot be disclosed.

The guidelines allow any agency introducing an issue to the cabinet to indicate that the matter should be kept confidential out of concern that it might have a severe impact on international relations, national security, and national interests. If the Secretariat agrees, it will be removed from the cabinet’s M-VARA public platform.

Under the guidelines, relevant agencies can seek legal actions against anyone who discloses information damaging governmental operations and national security. Any civil servant who does so could face disciplinary action, including dismissal, under the 2008 Civil Service Act.

When the cabinet passes a resolution on any public matter, information about the resolution can only be disclosed by the responsible agency. Other agency communications must by in accordance with it. The Office of the Prime Minister will take full responsibility for disclosing information about cabinet meetings, resolutions, or other works relating to the cabinet or ministers.  It will also issue clarifications of inaccurate, incorrect, or incomplete news reports “that might cause damage to the government and its personnel, and lead to wrong actions.”  In such cases, relevant ministries can also hold their own press conferences, issue clarifications, and join press conferences held by the Office of the Prime Minister.

The guidelines have been criticised as a censorship effort by Rangsiman Rome, activist-turned-MP from the Move Forward Party.  He said that civil servants who disclose information to the opposition know the risks but often do so anyhow. He noted that such whistleblowers want to see the country improve and, instead of standing by and watching corruption happen in the organisations they work for, they divulge information to the opposition or anti-corruption agencies.

Rangsiman expressed concern that the cabinet approved its new guidelines in a bid to prevent civil servants from revealing information about corruption and mismanagement.

“If this is the case, I am worried that this government’s management is unlikely to be transparent, fair, and without corruption. The public wants to hear assurances on this point as well,” Rangsiman said.

Rangsiman noted that in contrast to developed countries, which have laws to protect whistleblowers, Thailand’s ‘new and long-awaited government’ places emphasis on guarding information, not protecting people who divulge it, raising long-term concerns about possible corruption during its term.

Rangsiman added that the guidelines are unlikely to stop whistleblowers from coming forward. He noted that many civil servants are ready to fight for what is right and will continue to reveal information to the opposition to help keep the government in check.

Chai Wacharong, spokesperson for the Office of the Prime Minister, said that there was nothing unusual about the guidelines and that similar agreements on confidentiality and disclosing information to the media have been used by cabinets for the past 20 years. He explained that when issues under cabinet consideration are sensitive and likely to affect international relations or public perceptions, information cannot be disclosed, but that matters passed as resolutions and approved can be published “when appropriate.”

NewsConfidentiality guidelineswhistleblowerClassified informationcensorshipOfficial secret
Categories: Prachatai English

Court to rule in Anon Nampa’s royal defamation trial on 26 September

Prachatai English - Mon, 2023-09-25 13:31
Submitted on Mon, 25 Sep 2023 - 01:31 PMPrachatai

As the Criminal Court prepares to deliver a verdict in the royal defamation trial against human rights lawyer Anon Nampa next Tuesday (26 September), the South Korea-based May 18 Foundation issued a statement expressing concern about freedom of expression in Thailand.

Anon was charged with royal defamation for a speech he gave during a protest on 14 October 2020, in which he demanded the resignation of then-Prime Minister Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha, a new constitution, and monarchy reform. Protesters marched to Government House, where they were forcibly dispersed in the early morning of 15 October after a severe State of Emergency was declared for Bangkok.  A full week of mass demonstrations across the city followed.

The police accused Anon of royal defamation, claiming that he insulted the King by saying in his speech that, if the protest were to be dispersed, it would be at the order of the King. The Ratchadapisek Criminal Court will be delivering a verdict in the trial next Tuesday (26 September).

Ahead of the court date, the May 18 Foundation, a South Korea-based foundation established to remember the spirit of democratic struggle and solidarity during the 18 May 1980 uprising in South Korea, issued a statement condemning the Thai government for oppressing the pro-democracy movement and calling for the authorities to guarantee freedom of expression.

“Anon Nampa is not a criminal, but a defender of democracy demanding democratic reform in Thailand through political and monarchy reforms,” said the statement.

“The May 18 Foundation denounces the Thai government that has consistently oppressed the pro-democracy movement of its people. The May 18 Foundation will stand in solidarity with the international communities to support Thailand’s democracy.”

The Foundation awarded Anon the Gwangju Prize for Human Rights in 2021 for his legal contributions, anti-dictatorship activism and calls for monarchy reform.

Meanwhile, the Clooney Foundation for Justice posted on Twitter that its TrialWatch project has been following the trial and has documented “how the Thai authorities have abused the lèse-majesté law to retaliate against those urging reform.” It also notes that Anon faces up to 15 years in prison.

Anon is facing a total of 14 counts of royal defamation filed against him for protest speeches and Facebook posts. Each count carries a prison sentence of 3 – 15 years.

NewsAnon NampaRoyal defamationlese majesteSection 11214 - 15 October 2020 proteststudent protests 2020May 18 Memorial FoundationClooney Foundation for Justice
Categories: Prachatai English

Local rice wine producer harassed by officials over Move Forward Party event

Prachatai English - Mon, 2023-09-25 12:51
Submitted on Mon, 25 Sep 2023 - 12:51 PMPrachatai

A local rice wine producer in Buriram has been harassed by a local subdistrict chief and men claiming to be police officers for allowing the Move Forward Party (MFP) to organize an event at a location she owns, Thai Lawyers for Human Rights (TLHR) said.

Tanakorn Sammasako, a former MFP MP candidate for Buriram’s 5th constituency, told TLHR that Amara (last name withheld), a local rice wine producer in Buriram’s Ban Mai Chaiyaphot District, was visited three times by officials, after it was announced that MFP will be organizing an event as part of its member relations project at a location she owned on Sunday (24 September).

Tanakorn said that last month, the Deputy Chief Executive of the Thonglang Subdistrict Administrative Organization visited Amara at home and threatened her, saying that the police knew about the event. This made her feel unsafe.

Two weeks ago, the Thonglang subdistrict chief visited Amara at home and asked her what event she was organizing and how many people would be joining. In the evening of 19 September, 2 men claiming to be police officers from Ban Mai Chaiyaphot Police Station came to Amara’s house. They took pictures of her and told her that they have visited her house several times, but have never spoken to her. Amara called Tanakorn and had him speak to the two men to explain that the event was a normal event a political party would organize to inform the public.

According to TLHR, Tanakorn has spoken to officers at Ban Mai Chaiyaphot Police Station about the event, and asked them not to visit anyone involved with the member relations project again. On 20 September, he went to the police station to inform the police of the harassment against Amara. He brought documents relating to the project and told them not to visit Amara at home again. He also asked that they inform him in advance if they want to observe the event, and that they must be in uniform if they do so.

Tanakorn told TLHR that no one involved in previous events he organized faced such a level of harassment from state officials, especially from the local administration, although some have been visited by investigation officers looking for information. He feels that local government agencies are becoming more active in suppressing political gatherings.

The 24 September event is part of MFP’s member relations project, funded by the Fund For Development of Political Parties under the Election Commission. Events often involve seminars, panel discussions, and gatherings for party members. The 24 September event focuses on issues facing local small-scale breweries, legal limitations, and proposed amendments to alcohol productions laws. Amara, a producer of traditional alcoholic products, will also be speaking at the event.

NewsMove Forward partyintimidationharassmentstate surveillanceTanakorn SammasakoBuriram
Categories: Prachatai English

57-year-old man arrested for 10-year-old FB posts

Prachatai English - Sat, 2023-09-23 20:56
Submitted on Sat, 23 Sep 2023 - 08:56 PMPrachatai

Cover photo: Thai Lawyers for Human Rights (TLHR)

A 57-year-old man has been arrested under the Computer-Related Crime Act for messages criticizing the political situation following the 2014 coup.

On 19 September 2023, Wichit (pseudonym) was apprehended by officers from the Cyber Crime Investigation Bureau (CCIB) and Provincial Police Region 4 in Khon Kaen Province on an arrest warrant issued by the criminal court.

He was initially taken to the Investigation Division and subsequently transferred to the CCIB for notification of the charge under the Computer-Related Crime Act and to provide testimony, according to Thai Lawyers for Human Rights.

Wichit remained in custody at the CCIB overnight before further proceedings.

Wichit was charged with the offence of importing into a computer system forged computer data which is likely to cause damage to national security or cause panic among the public, under Section 14 (2) of the Computer-Related Crime Act. Wichit denied the allegation.

On 20 September, the inquiry officer officially notified Wichit of the charge which was filed by Maj Gen Rienthong Nanna, a prominent vigilante monarchist. Wichit posted ten messages on Facebook between 24 October 2014 and 20 June 2015. The content of the posts dealt with political matters during the post-coup period and some of them referred to the monarchy.

Wichit insisted on denying the allegation and will provide additional testimony in writing within 30 days. He was subsequently jailed on 21 September.

On the same day, the court granted bail of 90,000 baht with the conditions that he must not engage in the alleged activities and must not participate in activities that may cause chaos.

Wichit was required to present himself in court on 8 November.

In this case, Wichit had never received a summons and was surprised and unprepared when he was apprehended, since the posts were made almost ten years ago.

Wichit said when it comes to politics, he simply wants to give criticism because of his love for the country. He could not tolerate the way those in power treated the people.

He has concerns regarding his situation. He is the breadwinner of his family, and his children are currently studying in secondary school and university. In addition, he is concerned about his religious construction work, which is a specialized field. He said there are several temples awaiting construction. If he is imprisoned, he would not be able to utilize his expertise for the benefit of Buddhism.

NewsComputer-Related Crime ActThai Lawyers for Human Rights (TLHR)
Categories: Prachatai English

Two protesters sentenced to one year for contempt of court

Prachatai English - Fri, 2023-09-22 19:13
Submitted on Fri, 22 Sep 2023 - 07:13 PMPrachatai

Two protesters have been sentenced to one year in prison for contempt of court after giving a speech in front of the South Bangkok Criminal Court on 15 July 2022 to demand the right to bail for detained activists.

On 19 September 2023, the South Bangkok Criminal Court sentenced Ngoentra “Mani” Khamsaen and Chiratchaya “Ginny” Sakunthong each to one year in prison for using offensive language against the judges. Both accused the judges of misconduct and unfairness in considering the request for temporary release of the detained activists. Such actions are deemed serious and have a detrimental impact on the credibility of the judiciary, according to Thai Lawyers for Human rights (TLHR).

The TLHR said the court granted bail of 35,000 baht each, with no condition set.

They were charged with contempt of court, defamation, and using a sound amplifier without permission at a protest on 15 July 2022. In their speeches, they criticised judges for rulings made in the case of monarchy reform activists Nutthanit Duangmusit and Netiporn Sanesangkhom, who were detained pending trial on royal defamation charges at the time.

Both were apprehended during the night of 25 August 2022. The authorities had never notified them of the charges in advance and they were taken to the Narcotics Suppression Bureau, which is outside the jurisdiction of the local police station where the incident occurred.

On 26 August 2022, they were denied bail on the grounds that their actions were deemed dangerous to the court since they accused judges of things that were not true in order to pressure the court. The charges also carry a severe penalty.

The complaints against them were filed by Netiphan Somchit, acting on behalf of judge Santi Chukitsappaisan, the Deputy Chief Justice of the South Bangkok Criminal Court.

NewsNgoentra KhamsaenChiratchaya Sakunthongcontempt of courtdefamation
Categories: Prachatai English

Gender equality activists to propose marriage law amendments

Prachatai English - Fri, 2023-09-22 13:53
Submitted on Fri, 22 Sep 2023 - 01:53 PMAnna Lawattanatrakul

A network of gender equality activists has announced they will be submitting a bill to parliament proposing amendments to sections on marriage and family in the Civil and Commercial Code to allow couples to register their marriage regardless of gender.

A presentation on the Marriage Equality bill proposed by civil society network given at the 20 September press conference.

The network proposes that all terms used are gender-neutral, and to raise the age at which a person can get married from 17 to 18 years to be in line with international child protection principles. With these amendments, gendered terms such as man, woman, husband, wife, father, or mother will no longer be used in these sections, and will be replaced by the gender-neutral terms “person,” “spouse,” and “parent.” This will ensure that everyone, regardless of gender identity, expression, or sexual orientation, will be able to legally register their marriage and that all married couples will be entitled to the same rights, duties, and state welfare.

Former National Human Rights Commissioner Naiyana Supapung said during a press conference on Wednesday (20 September) that, under the Constitution, every citizen must be equal before the law regardless of gender, race, or religion, and so their rights should be protected by the same legislation. Amending the Civil and Commercial Code to make it gender-neutral would ensure that anyone who forms a family will receive equal rights regardless of their gender.

She stressed that although the amendments constitute what is commonly known as the Marriage Equality Bill, it is not a separate piece of legislation but amendments to existing laws. This differs from the Civil Partnership Bill previously proposed, which is a separate piece of legislation for LGBTQ marriage. The Civil Partnership Bill has also been criticized for not giving the same rights to civil partners as the Civil and Commercial Code gives to married couples.

Naiyana Supapung

Naiyana said that she believes there should be nothing preventing the Marriage Equality Bill from being passed if it goes before parliament again. She noted that LGBTQ rights were one of the issues raised during the pro-democracy protests that started in 2020. She also said that, in her 40 years of working as a legal advocate, she has never seen the Constitutional Court as widely criticized as it was when it ruled that Section 1448 of the Civil and Commercial Code, which governs marriage, does not violate the Constitution and is not discriminatory.

In the past, Naiyana said, people have been wary of criticizing rulings made by the high courts out of concern that they would be charged with contempt of court, but when the marriage law ruling was made in 2021, the Court was widely criticized by both the public and academics for its ruling based on gender bias and sexism. She also noted that during the last parliament’s term, the Marriage Equality Bill proposed by MPs from the Move Forward Party passed its first reading along with the Civil Partnership Bill proposed by the Ministry of Justice, and that no political party has openly declared that it will not vote for marriage equality, while individual MPs who spoke out against it were doing so as members of religious groups.

Chumaporn Taengkliang

While a petition launched in 2020 to collect signatures backing the amendments gained over 300,000 signatures, activist Chumaporn Taengkliang said during Wednesday’s press conference that parliament officials have asked them to first register the bill with the parliament office before collecting signatures, and so they will have to launch the campaign again as parliament will not accept the signatures they had already collected.

Under the 2021 Initiative Process Act, citizens intending to introduce a law to the House of Representatives are required to submit a petition signed by 20 eligible voters to the Secretariat of the House of Representatives, which will check whether it meets the requirements for the types of bill that can be proposed by civil society. If it meets the requirements, it needs at least 10,000 signatures to be introduced to the House.

Chumaporn said that the network plans to register their bill with the House within the next week before launching a petition to collect signatures. She said that they are aiming to collect at least 15,000 signatures and will be submitting the bill to parliament as soon as possible, because it is early in the parliament’s term and not much legislation has yet been introduced to parliament. They will then be running a campaign to ensure that the bill, along with a Gender Recognition Bill proposed by civil society and the repeal of the Prostitution Suppression Act, will be seen by parliament in their first reading as soon as possible.

“We actually can have marriage equality by Valentine’s if parliament shows sufficient responsibility for their own words, because you have been using marriage equality and gender recognition, and in many places talk about ending the suppression of prostitution, to gain votes so you can have power in parliament. We’re reminding you of it,” she said.

Meanwhile, another proposed amendment to the Civil and Commercial Code proposed by MPs from the Move Forward Party is now up for public consultation along with a Gender Recognition Bill proposed at the same time.

The Bill was first proposed by MFP MPs during the last parliament. It was placed on the agenda in November 2020 and faced repeated delays before passing its first reading on 15 June 2022 along with a Civil Partnership Bill proposed by the Ministry of Justice and endorsed by the Cabinet and the Office of the Council of State. Both bills were then forwarded to an ad-hoc committee, but were not returned to parliament in time for their second and third readings before parliament was dissolved.

As cabinet appointment has been delayed, the Move Forward Party re-submitted the bill in August to prevent it from being automatically dismissed if a cabinet was not appointed in time to restore it to parliament. As no cabinet was appointed until after the 3 September deadline, the original bill that lapsed after the last parliament was dissolved was automatically dismissed, and the re-submitted bill would have to go through the process again, starting with public consultation and its first reading in parliament.

The Move Forward version of the Marriage Equality Bill proposes to amend the Civil and Commercial Code to use “spouse” instead of “husband” and “wife” and “person” instead of “man” and “woman.” It also proposes to raise the age at which a person can legally marry without parental consent or court permission from 17 to 18 years old. However, activists have noted that it retains some gendered language, including “father” and “mother,” which is used alongside the gender-neutral term “parent.”

NewsMarriage Equality billmarriage equalityLGBTQLGBT rightsNaiyana SupapungChumaporn Taengkliang
Categories: Prachatai English

Supreme Court revokes Pannika Wanich's political rights for life

Prachatai English - Thu, 2023-09-21 12:47
Submitted on Thu, 21 Sep 2023 - 12:47 PMPrachatai

The Supreme Court has permanently revoked political rights of Pannika Wanich, the former spokesperson of the now-defunct Future Forward Party, retaining only her right to vote.



The decision stemmed from the case where conservative activist Srisuwan Janya filed a complaint about Pannika's post in her student days that criticised the monarchy, deeming it  a violation of political ethics and the duty of Thai citizens to protect the monarchy.


On Wednesday, the Supreme Court's website announced the verdict of Pannika's case in which Srisuwan filed a complaint to with the National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC) to investigate the alleged violation of political ethics, citing the old Facebook posts dating back to Pannika's student days, which contained photos and text critical of the monarchy. 




The court's website states that the judges delivered a verdict in Pannika's cases, which was filed by the NACC. The verdict concluded that after Pannika, the respondent, was elected as a member of parliament, she did not remove the post, demonstrating a lack of respect for the monarchy, signifying a lack of commitment to constitutional monarchy principles and failure to safeguard the institution.



The court has determined that Pannika's actions seriously violated ethical standards outlined in the Constitution, and therefore decided to have her right to run for election permanently revoked, including the right to hold any political office.



However, the court has determined that Pannika did not violate the principle of upholding and respecting the democratic system with the monarchy as the head of state. Consequently, her voting rights have not been revoked at this time.


Meanwhile, in a Twitter post, Pannika stated that despite the court's decision to permanently disqualify her from running for or holding any political offices, she will continue her current political work, including her role as a campaigner for the Move Forward Party in future elections.

"We have come this far. [we] won't stop until we reach the goal. Where we stand and our specific positions are not of great significance. What truly matters is how far our country can progress," she wrote. 


Categories: Prachatai English

Assailant of serial petitioner Srisuwan sentenced to 15 days

Prachatai English - Wed, 2023-09-20 20:11
Submitted on Wed, 20 Sep 2023 - 08:11 PMPrachatai

A man who physically assaulted serial petitioner Srisuwan Janya has been sentenced to 15 days in prison and fined 107,000 baht.

On 20 September 2023, Phattarapong Supakson, known as Lawyer Un Buriram, posted on Facebook details of the case of his client Weerawit ‘Sak’ Rungruangsiripol, who physically assaulted Srisuwan Janya, Secretary-General of the Association to Protect the Thai Constitution, as he was giving an interview to the media outside the Central Investigation Bureau on 18 October 2022.

The attack came after Srisuwan filed a complaint against Udom ‘Nose’ Taepanich, a Thai comedian and artist, for allegedly violating the law in his stand-up comedy performance on Netflix, which mentioned former Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha.

Phattarapong stated that Weerawit was initially sentenced to 30 days in prison, later reduced to 15 days. The court also ordered Weerawit to pay 107,000 in compensation to Srisuwan. He added that Weerawit had been initially accused of premeditated assault, which carries a maximum penalty of up to 3 years in prison. Despite pleading guilty, the court ruled that the circumstances did not constitute a premeditated act. The court convicted him of a petty offence, punishable with imprisonment of not more than 1 month.

Weerawit’s attorney also stated that Srisuwan had filed two criminal charges against Weerawit. The first was for causing physical or mental injury to another person under Section 295 of the Criminal Code. The other charge was for premeditated assault. Srisuwan also filed a civil lawsuit seeking compensation of 1,000,000 baht.

Phattarapong stated his client’s intention to appeal.

On 18 October 2023, serial petitioner Srisuwan went to the Central Investigation Bureau to request an investigation of Udom’s alleged crime. While he was giving an interview to the press, Weerawit approached him and launched several punches and kicks.

Srisuwan Janya is well-known for his numerous complaints against well-known figures in Thailand, including Bangkok Governor Chadchart Sittipunt and two social media influencers Nurat and Mom Dew.


NewsSrisuwan JanyaCentral Investigation Bureau (CIB)
Categories: Prachatai English


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