On 8 May 2013, the lawyer of human rights defender and magazine editor Mr Somyot Prueksakasemsuk submitted an application to the Supreme Court in Bangkok to refute the ruling by the Appeal Court rejecting his previous application. On 3 April 2013, the Appeal Court had rejected the lawyer's application for Somyot Prueksakasemsuk to exercise his right to bail. Somyot Prueksakasemsuk was sentenced to 10 years in jail by the Court of First Instance on 23 January 2013 on charges of publishing two articles with negative references to the Thai monarchy under the lèse majesté law.
On 1 April 2013, the human rights defender's lawyer submitted an appeal against the verdict by the Court of First Instance. Somyot Prueksakasemsuk's application on the right to bail has been rejected twelve times by the Court of First Instance and twice by the Appeal Court. In it, Somyot Prueksakasemsuk's lawyer reiterated that there is no proof that the human rights defender would flee if the bail was granted as he still continued to travel in and out of Thailand after an arrest warrant was issued for him in 2011. The lawyer also stated that until the decision on the case is reached by the Supreme Court, Somyot Prueksakasemsuk's right to bail is guaranteed under the Constitution of the Kingdom of Thailand. He also underlined that there are health concerns regarding the human rights defender's detention since he is suffering from high blood pressure and gout as well as Hepatitis B.
Somyot Prueksakasemsuk works as a human rights defender in the area of labour rights and freedom of association in Thailand, and is editor of Voice of Taksin. He was found guilty of violating Section 112 of the Thai Criminal Code, which criminalises defaming, insulting or threatening the royal family, commonly known as the lèse majesté law. The trial was attended by approximately 170 observers including local and international journalists, academics, human rights defenders and organisations, and members of the diplomatic corps. The UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention in its sixty-fourth session from 27-31 August 2012 stated that the deprivation of liberty of [the human rights defender], being in contravention of Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and Article 19 (2) of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) to which Thailand is party is arbitrary, and it called for his release.
The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, and the European Union expressed grave concern at the outcome, with the UN High Commissioner also reacting on the denial of bail over such a long period of time. The Commissioner communicated her concern to the Thai government on 15 June 2012, and Front Line Defenders did the same on 23 January 2013
and 14 May 2012
Front Line Defenders is concerned at the continued detention of Somyot Prueksakasemsuk, which it believes to be solely motivated by his legitimate and peaceful human rights activities, and at the above-mentioned fair trial irregularities including the rejection of request for bail fourteen times.
Front Line Defenders urges the authorities in Thailand to:
1. Quash the conviction and sentencing of Somyot Prueksakasemsuk, and immediately grant his request for bail, as Front Line Defenders believes he has been sentenced solely as a result of his legitimate and peaceful human rights work;
2. Guarantee in all circumstances that all human rights defenders in Thailand are able to carry out their legitimate human rights activities without fear of reprisals and free of all restrictions including judicial harassment.
(Prachatai: The International Federation for Human Rights, Media Defence South East Asia, and Media Legal Defence Initiative have submitted their joint statement to the Supreme Court in support of Somyot's application for bail. See attachement.)