Another two lèse majesté defendants denied passports

Royal defamation case defendants indicted for reading a statement in German and wearing a crop top said that they were unable to obtain passports because of their ongoing court cases.

On 1 February, Ravisara Eksgool, who recently received a scholarship to study overseas, posted on Facebook that her request for a new passport was denied, reportedly because the case against her was a matter of national security.

Ravisara is one of 13 people indicted on lèse majesté and sedition charges under Sections 112 and 116 of the Thai Criminal Code for participating in a protest in front of the German Embassy in Bangkok on 26 October 2020 to demand monarchy reform. On that day, she read a statement in German.

Sainam (pseudonym), an underage youth charged with royal defamation for attending a ‘fashion show’ protest, was reportedly denied a passport as well. On 28 January 2020, he went to the show wearing a crop top. A message painted on his exposed belly stated that King Vajiralongkorn was not his father.

According to Sainam, he went to obtain passports with three other family members and his was the only application rejected. The Consular Affairs Department was reportedly asked by Yannawa District Police Office, the station that brought 112 charges, not to issue a passport.

On 8 February, Prachatai contacted the Yannawa police station to clarify matters but received no response.

No way out

On 7 February, Ravisara posted another Facebook message stating that she had petitioned the Southern Bangkok Court to challenge the decision to deny her a passport. According to Ravisara, the Court ruled that travelling abroad violated her bail conditions and that a 2-year scholarship would result in her fleeing the country.

A banner stated "Reform the monarchy" at the front of German Embassy in the 26 October 2020 protest.

She was awarded a German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) scholarship to pursue a Masters Degree in the management of non-profit organization in Germany, a degree that she finds an aspiration from her desire to help out the work of the Thai Human Rights Lawyers (TLHR).

“As for the passport, when I went to renew it, it did not cross my mind that they would reject my application. I didn’t know. When they did, I felt a bit down. But later I felt angry; they are treating me like a criminal when I haven’t done anything.”

While no official policy has been reportedly announced, the passport and travel ban has frequently been imposed on critics of the Prayut-administration and the monarchy. 

One way in, no way out: a month of travel bans against critical voices

According to BBC Thai, Dechathorn Bamrungmuang, a.k.a. HOCKHACKER, a member of the band Rap Against Dictatorship, found on 25 November that he could not get a new passport because his name had been placed on a ‘watchlist’ after he voiced criticism of the government,

In  a BBC Thai interview on 18 November, Pol Col Tossaphol Ampaipipatkul, Superintendent of Samranrat Police Station, revealed that he was the one requesting passport revocations, in keeping with legal procedures for those facing charges related to national security.

Yan Marchal, a French expat well known for his political parodies, had to take a return flight to France after receiving an expulsion order upon arrival at Phuket Airport on 27 November 2021. Immigration officials reportedly deemed him to be a threat to society.

According to the Thai Enquirer, the Samranrat Police Station submitted a request to the Department of Consular Affairs to revoke the passports of 13 people who had been charged with sedition over their involvement in pro-democracy rallies.  Six were listed by name: Jutatip Sirikhan, Korakot Saengyenpan, Suwanna Tanlek, Baramee Chaiyarat and Panumas Singprom.

According to Kumklao Songsomboon, a lawyer from Thai Lawyers for Human Rights, the state has no authority to impose a travel ban on people who have yet to be found guilt of a crime by the Court. In the case of underage defendants like Sainam, Thai laws and international conventions also oblige state officials to consider their future well-being.

“Whatever they do, whatever constraints they place on the rights [of young defenders], they have to consider their futures," said Kumklao

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