Anupong Paochinda, Minister of Interior, has dismissed an appeal by Amnesty International Thailand to nominate Netiwit Chotiphatphaisal as its Youth Board Member.
Netiwit at Oslo Freedom Forum 2018
The request to appoint Netiwit as a Board Member was made to the Bangkok registration office in August last year (2018). This was required by the Statute of Amnesty International Thailand as an Association. But the office rejected him in November on the grounds that "he has had inappropriate conduct in the past deemed unfit for this role."
The registrar claimed that "the inappropriate conduct" comprised 4 cases in which Netiwit violated NCPO orders prohibiting public assemblies of more than 5 people. Amnesty argues that the Court has dismissed 2 of the 4 cases and the NCPO Order has now been canceled and further prosecutions under it cannot proceed.
Amnesty filed an appeal with the Ministry of Interior in December last year (2018) to revoke the registrar's order, only to face another rejection by the Ministry in September this year (2019) - this represented a 6-month delay since the law requires an appeal to be processed within 90 days.
Netiwit's Facebook post said that he was rejected because he demanded elections, joined political campaigns, and also gave a speech at the Oslo Freedom Forum before the invitation to be a Youth Board Member, causing fear in the government that he might cause another international scene.
According to an internal Amnesty letter, the board must consist of at least 5 members to conform with the Association's Statute, but since Netiwit’s appointment was rejected and Parinya Boonridrerthaikul, the Board Chair, resigned, Apichart Pongsawat, a member, was appointed to be the Chair, and Tattep Ruangprapaikitseree as an interim member of the board.
Amnesty announced it will file a lawsuit with the Administrative Court by the beginning of October. The defendants are the registrar for alleged abuse of power in disqualifying Netiwit and Interior Minister Gen Anupong Paochinda for neglect of duty for failing to deliver the appeal result in the stipulated timeframe.
Netiwit fears that the authorities are using the same technique as when he was removed from the Chualongkorn University Student Council in 2017. By the time the Court revoked the University's order, his term in the student council was over. "File a lawsuit with the Administrative Court, but I may not be able to win. They know that when I get the position back, my term will already be over, " said Netiwit.
Netiwit Chotiphatphaisal, a student activist, 23, has been a member of Amnesty International Thailand since 2012. Questioning the education system since he was very young, he also declared himself a conscientious objector in 2015. After graduation next year, he expects to be called for draft very soon.