Following the protest on Saturday (20 March), Amnesty International calls for the Thai authorities to drop all charges against children and others who participate in protests and for an investigation into the authorities' excessive use of force and ill treatment against protesters.
A student in uniform at the protest site on Saturday
Responding to the recent arrest and charge of 7 children during the REDEM protest on 20 March 2021 where the crown control police deployed astonishing excessive and unreasonable use of force to arrest and harm children, journalists and other protesters, Amnesty International Thailand’s Director Piyanut Kotsan said:
“This demoralizing arrest and harm of children during protest is a clear sign that the Thai government does not respect the dignity of people, especially children, in the society. Children has the right to be heard as equal as other people in the society, and right to be protected by the society and its government. Instead of protecting children from harm, the law enforcement such as the Royal Thai police is acting as the perpetrator themselves.
“The arrest of children in the protest is intolerable and unlawful both under national and international standards. The ruthless approach of handling protesters will only create further disruption in the society.
“The ill-treatment of children during the detainment at the Regional 1 Border Police Bureau and the absence of thorough investigation of the arrest at the juvenile court are raising fundamental concern of the rights to fair trial and Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC).”
On 20 March 2021, 32 protesters including 7 children have been arrested and charged from protesting at Sanam Luang Park and surrounded area.
Two of the seven have been charged with Article 112, Article 215-216 and Article 217 of the Penal Code for illegal assembly and set a fire at the public property, a violation of Emergency Decree, a violation of the Communicable Disease Act. Another two children are being charged with Article 215-216 and Article 138 of the Penal Code for illegal assembly, disobeyed the authorities’ order and attack the authorities on duty, a violation of the Emergency Decree, the Communicable Disease Act. The last group of three children are being charged with Traffic Act.
Since the protest in 2020, at least 24 children have been charged with heavy handed laws such as Article 112 (Lese Majeste Law), Article 116 (Sedition) from simply expressing their voice through the freedom of expression and freedom of assembly. Six of them have been charged with Article 112, where the youngest is 14 years old child. Since October 2020, the police have evidently increased its aggression towards children by operating a sweeping arrest at the protest where there is a lack of specific target, and physical force. In addition, the police also detained the arrested protesters at the Regional 1 Border Police Bureau where access to lawyers and family have been extremely difficult.
The investigation of the juvenile court has been uncommon and does not follow the guidelines on the best interest of the child, and the right for protection from harm. In addition, there has been no further investigation on the arrest with force from the court.
Amnesty international Thailand stands strongly under the guideline of the Committee on Child’s rights (CRC), and the General Comment 37 which emphasis the right of freedom of expression, and assembly and the right to be heard, especially those who participate in the protest. We continue our call for positive obligation of the law enforcement and the state to act and perform duties with a great awareness of children participating in protest.
Amnesty International Thailand calls for drop of all charges of children and others who participating in protest and exercise their rights. It also calls for further and thorough investigation on the excessive use of force and ill treatment. The right to remedy and the best interest of the child should be factored as a fundamental guideline on judicial procedure.