Human rights lawyers have condemned the arrest and detention of the four latest lèse majesté suspects, including a 14-year-old.
Thai Lawyers for Human Rights (TLHR) on 20 May 2017 issued a statement on the arrest of Chirayu, Rathathamanun, Akharaphong (surnames withheld due to privacy concerns), and a 14-year-old in Khon Kaen on 19 May.
According to the police, the four were arrested for allegedly burning an arch erected in honour of the late King Bhumibol in Chonnabot District of Khon Kaen on 15 May.
They are currently detained at the 11th Military Circle in Bangkok while two other suspects, Settha and Pricha, are still at large.
TLHR pointed out that the arrest of the four through the use of the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) Head’s Order No. 3/2015 is arbitrary and in violation of Article 9 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Thailand is a state party.
Under the Order, designated peace-keeping officers have the authority to detain incommunicado for seven days suspects of crimes against national security without specific charge or warrant.
The arrest of the 14-year-old suspect and ensuing detention at a military base is also against Articles 37 and 40 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child.
According to bangkokbiznews, the four confessed to the accusation, adding that Pricha paid them 200 baht each to burn the arch.
Following the arrest of the four, the number of people arrested under Article 112 since the 2014 coup d’état has now reached at least 109.
Article 112 of Thailand’s Criminal Code, the lèse majesté law, imposes jail terms of three to 15 years for each count on those found guilty of defaming, insulting, or threatening the King, the Queen, the Heir to the throne, or the Regent.