UN calls release of lèse majesté convict Somyot

This statement is originally published by UN Human Rights - Asia Facebook page
 
We repeat our call for the immediate release of prominent Thai labour activist and magazine editor Mr. Somyot Pruksakasemsuk, who is serving a jail sentence for violating the lese-majeste law. The Supreme Court of Thailand ruled today to reduce his jail sentence from 10 to 6 years. 
 
"While the decision is a step towards Somyot's early release, we remain concerned by the extremely harsh sentence" said Laurent Meillan, Acting Regional Representative of the South East Asia Regional Office.
 
The Supreme Court reduced Somyot's prison sentence on the grounds of old age and the fact that he has been in jail since 2011. 
 
In 2013, the High Commissioner for Human Rights expressed deep concern about the extremely harsh sentencing of Somyot and stated that the conviction sent a wrong signal about freedom of expression in Thailand. The UN Human Rights Mechanisms have repeatedly urged the Thai Government to stop using lese-majeste provisions as a political tool to stifle critical speech and have repeatedly stated that that harsh criminal sanctions under the law are neither necessary nor proportionate. 
 
In August 2012, the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention concluded that Somyot's detention was arbitrary and requested the Government of Thailand to take all necessary steps to "release Somyot and accord him an enforceable right to compensation" in accordance with the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. We urge the Thai Government to implement the decision of the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention on Somyot's case.
 
For more information: 
Thailand: UN rights expert concerned by the continued use of lese-majeste persecution (7 February 2017)
Press briefing note on Somyot Pruksakasemsuk (23 September 2014)
Conviction of Thai editor undermines freedom of expression: Pillay (23 January 2013)
Decision by the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention
 
 
Somyot was arrested in 2011 when Thailand's political conflict was at peak