United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR)
We are very concerned by the rise in the number of lèse majesté prosecutions in Thailand since 2014 and the severity of the sentencing, including a 35-year jail term handed down last Friday against one individual. A Thai military court found Wichai Thepwong guilty of posting 10 photos, videos and comments on Facebook deemed defamatory of the royal family. He was sentenced to 70 years in jail, but the sentence was reduced to 35 years after he confessed to the charges.
The United Nations Human Rights Office for South-East Asia (OHCHR) urges the Thai Government to halt the practice of arbitrary detention of political activists, and to immediately release six people recently charged with criticising authorities. On 29 April 2017, two political activists - Mr. Danai Tibsuya, a former military officer from Chiang Mai, and Mr. Prawet Prapanukul, a Bangkok-based lawyer - were arrested and detained by the military under the lese-majeste law for criticising the King on Facebook.
Today we honour the human rights struggle of millions of women who have demanded respect for their rights and the rights of others. The women’s movement has brought about tremendous change but we must also recognise that progress has been slow and extremely uneven. Progress has also brought its own challenges. In too many countries, we are now seeing a backlash against women’s rights, a backlash that hurts us all. We need to be alert - the advances of the last few decades are fragile and should nowhere be taken for granted.
After criticism by the UN over the use of the notorious lèse majesté law, the Thai Foreign Ministry has claimed that enforcement of this law does not violate human rights.
The United Nations Special Rapporteur on the promotion of freedom of opinion and expression, David Kaye, today called on the Thai authorities to stop using lèse-majesté provisions as a political tool to stifle critical speech. In Thailand, defaming, insulting or threatening the royal family carries a penalty of three to fifteen years’ imprisonment.
Despite hopes an embattled student activist would be able to sit his exams behind bars, a Dean of Khon Kaen University has confirmed the university will not make an exception for Jatuphat ‘Pai Dao Din’ Boonpattararaksa. On 17 January 2017, Asst. Prof. Kittibodee Yaipool, Dean of Khon Kaen University’s Law Faculty, announced that currently the university has no plans to facilitate examinations in Khon Kaen Prison for Jatuphat a.
The United Nations Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association, Maina Kiai, expressed dismay over the 25 September death of South Korean protester Baek Nam-gi, and called for a full and independent investigation into the police’s use of a water cannon last year that led to his death. Mr. Baek, a 69-year old farmer, was knocked to the ground by a water cannon operated by the police while taking part in a peaceful rally in Seoul on 14 November 2015. He had remained in a coma until his passing.
A civil society network has said that although Thailand ratified the Convention against Torture almost a decade ago, the situation regarding torture in the country has hardly improved.
On the eve of the five-year anniversary of his detention, we, the undersigned international organizations, condemn the ongoing and arbitrary deprivation of liberty of human rights defender Somyot Phrueksakasemsuk and call on Thailand’s authorities to immediately and unconditionally release him.
UN’s human rights office has stated that people must be able to participate in the drafting process of the new constitution and that the new constitution should not provide impunity for the military government.