Detained student activist misses examination, jeopardising his graduation

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 announcement contradicts an earlier statement from the Rights and Liberties Protection Department (RLPD) that the activist would be allowed to take examinations necessary for him to get his law degree behind bars.

According to Kittibodee, Jatuphat will have to submit a special request to the university to sit his exams in Khon Kaen Prison.

Though risking expulsion the detained activist said that he will not submit such a request.

Pawinee Chumsri, a defence lawyer for Jatuphat, said that her client had previously asked the court to allow him to be escorted by prison officers to Khon Kaen University for the examination. However, the court denied the request.

On 12 January 2016, Prim Boonpattaraksa submitted a petition to Khon Kaen University asking for her son, Jatuphat, to remain a student if he misses the examination. However, the university has not responded to her request yet.  

Jatuphat, a key member of the New Democracy Movement (NDM), was the first person charged with lèse majesté under the reign of King Vajiralongkorn.

He was accused of violating Article 112 of the Criminal Code for sharing on his Facebook account a controversial biography of the King published by BBC Thai.

The embattled activist would have been able to sit his exams had the Khon Kaen Provincial Court not revoked his bail on 22 December, after he posted a Facebook message mocking the authorities.  

On the same day, the Southeast Asian regional office of the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), issued a letter to the Thai Lawyers for Human Rights (TLHR) in response to a complaint submitted by the TLHR about Jatuphat’s case.

The letter states that the OHCHR has been following the detained activist’s case closely since his arrest on 2 December 2016.

“OHCHR urges the government to review cases of all individuals (including Jatuphat’s case) investigated and charged under Article 112 of the Thai Criminal Code,” reads part of the OHCHR’s letter.

Jatuphat ‘Pai’ Boonpattararaksa