Somyot’s wife submits letter on press freedom to World Newspaper Association

(6 June 2013) Sukanya Prueksakasemsuk, the wife of magazine editor Somyot who is serving an 11 year jail sentence, submitted an open letter from her husband to Jacob Mathew, President of the World Association of Newspaper and News Publishers (WAN-IFRA) during the 65th World Newspaper Congress in Bangkok.
 

Sukanya Prueksakasemsuk and Jacob Mathew
 
Sukanya submitted the letter to call for international support to highlight problems with the lèse majesté law, Article 112 of Criminal Code, and its adverse effects on freedom of the press. It also calls for support for an amnesty bill for political prisoners and prisoners of conscience in Thailand. 
 
Mathew said that during his conversation with Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra at the meeting on Tuesday, she admitted that the lèse majesté law is being abused but said the process to change the law is complicated. “The Prime Minister said that they will actually work on it,” he said.
 
He also criticized the Thailand’s lèse majesté law during a session of the Congress on Monday.  The Bangkok Post reports him as saying that the law creates a “climate of fear” and goes against the principle of freedom of the press.  
 
“In such a nice country asThailand, a situation like this is not good,” said Larry Kilman, Executive Director of Communications and Public Affairs of WAN-IFRA. “We would like to see change,” he said. 
 

Larry Kilman, right
 
Somyot Prueksakasemsuk, former editor of Voice of Taksin magazine, has been detained in Bangkok Remand Prison since April 30, 2011 on lèse majesté charges. He was sentenced to 11 years’ imprisonment in January for publishing in the magazine two articles, written by someone else, deemed offensive to the monarchy. He has been denied bail 14 times. 
 
000
 
4 June 2013
 
 
To: President of the World Association of Newspaper and News Publishers (Mr Jacob Mathew)
 
 
Subject: Thai Editor sentenced to 11 years’ imprisonment under Article 112 (lèse majesté law)
 
 
I, Mr. Somyot Pruksakasemsuk, former Editor-in-Chief of the Voice of Taksin magazine, would like to bring to your attention my case where I was accused of lèse majesté under Article 112 of the Penal Code.
 
I have been detained in Bangkok Remand Prison since April 30, 2011, without the right to bail, which is a violation of legal practice under Articles 39 and 40 of the 2007 Constitution and have been sentenced to 11 years’ imprisonment.  My case is now at the Court of Appeal. 
 
Labour unions, academics, journalists and human rights organizations around the world have come together to condemn Article 112 and the justice system in Thailand, which have been used to bully and threaten the right to freedom of expression, especially in my case with respect to imprisonment without the right to bail. The image of the country’s justice system is very poor.
 
Lèse majesté charges and prosecution under Article 112 violate the basic right to bail and defendants are unable to collect evidence to prove their innocence.  The suffering inflicted by lengthy confinement would not be good for the monarchy.
 
I have long fought for the freedom and rights of labour, for a social security system, for the right to maternity leave and for the establishment of worker unions. I have protested against coups and promoted democracy all my life.
 
On the 2nd anniversary of my imprisonment and loss of freedom, I would like to ask for your support to request from H.E. Yingluck Shinawatra the following.
 
1. To pass an amnesty law to release all political prisoners and prisoners of conscience to restore justice and legitimacy and start the reconciliation process for Thai citizens.
2. Pending an amnesty law, to ensure that prisoners accused and being tried at the Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court under Article 112 are granted bail without discrimination and with respect to basic human rights.
3. To modify the Criminal Code and the 2007 Constitution to prevent discrimination and violation of the rights to bail. This is in accordance with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.
 
Please be kind enough to speak on behalf of myself as a prisoner and encourage the government to take action.
 
Yours sincerely,
 
Mr. Somyot Prueksakasemsuk
Prisoner Under Article 112
Thailand
 

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