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Amnesty International petitions Ministry of Justice for release of detained activists

Amnesty International Thailand and other activists submitted today (10 August) a petition, signed by 4,701 people, to the Ministry of Justice to call for the authorities to drop charges against pro-democracy activists and to release and return the right to bail to political prisoners. 

Today (10 August 2022) Amnesty International Thailand and activists brought 4,701 names of Thai citizens who signed the petition through Amnesty International's urgent action. The list was delivered to Mr. Somsak Thepsuthin, the Minister of Justice, by Mr. Wallop Nakbua, the Deputy Permanent Secretary for Justice, who also served as the Minister of Justice's representative to call for the release, dismissed the allegations and restored bail rights to activists who are being held in custody pending trial. As well as, to demand that Thailand's government uphold its commitments to international human rights standards, including the right to bail, freedom of expression, association, and peaceful assembly.

Piyanut Kotsan, Director of Amnesty International Thailand said that according to the Amnesty International Secretariat in London, United Kingdom has launched an urgent operation inviting members, activists, and supporters to send a letter to Mr. Somsak Thepsuthin, the Minister of Justice, demanded the release of the activists and the withdrawal of all accusations. Additionally, they urged Thai authorities to adhere to their commitments under international human rights law, which mandate that they should protect citizens' rights to freedom of expression, association, and peaceful assembly and minimize detention pending review. This campaign was in effect until August 9th.

Since 2 June 2022, two women have been on hunger strike calling for their right to bail. They have been detained since 3 May 2022. Authorities have started criminal proceedings against them and one other, who is on bail under house arrest, for conducting street polls. The Thai government is required by international human rights commitments to effectively protect the rights to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly and to minimize pretrial detention. All allegations against the three must be dismissed, and they must be released right away.

Thai authorities have carried out a wide-ranging crackdown on peaceful protest and online discussion since overwhelmingly peaceful pro-democracy reform protests started in July 2020. Officials are using vaguely worded provisions of laws - on security, the monarchy and computer crimes - as instruments of repression and are interpreting the peaceful exercise of rights as a threat to security or public order, or offence to the monarchy, and subsequently file criminal proceedings against activists which may result in up to life imprisonment.

The Director of Amnesty International Thailand also announced that over the course of more than a month through Amnesty International has campaigned to compile names under urgent action that are campaigning around the world. Calling for the release of two protest activists who have been on hunger strike including Bung, Netiporn Sanesangkhom and Bai Por, Nutthanit Duangmusit who demand their rights to bail. Both were detained on May 3, 2022 and released on August 4, 2022. Despite being given bail, authorities have launched criminal prosecutions against the two. However, as a result of the 64-day hunger strike has resulted in health ramifications for the body, which now requires hospitalization to recover. While Tawan, Thantawan Tuatulanon, who had previously been granted bail, is being sentenced to home detention for 24 hours after conducting street polls. 

Since May 3, 2022, Netiporn and Nutthanit have been detained, with their requests for bail repeatedly denied. They have been on hunger strike since 2 June 2022 in protest of their detention. After going on a 36-day hunger strike in detention after authorities revoked her initial/earlier bail on 20 April 2022, Tantawan is currently on bail under house arrest

Prominent protesters have also faced months of arbitrary pre-trial detention, often compromising their rights to education and access to a livelihood. They are currently subject to increasingly restrictive bail conditions which stringently limit their human rights to freedom of movement, expression and peaceful assembly, including requirements to stay within their places of residence for up to 24 hours daily, unless for medical treatment, and wear electronic monitoring bracelets 24 hours a day.

During 2022, Thai authorities have filed criminal proceedings against protesters in connection with their public peaceful activism. Officials continue to increase their judicial harassment of people engaging in acts of perceived public dissent, including children, and are escalating measures to stifle public expressions of opinion and peaceful protest and are imposing excessive restrictions on people’s right to peaceful protest and expression.

Amnesty International has the following requests for the Thai government in this regard: 

  1. Immediately release and/or withdraw charges and excessive bail conditions against people targeted for peaceful exercise of their rights and drop all criminal proceedings against them;
  2. Pending the release of people targeted for peaceful exercise of their rights, ensure they have adequate access to medical treatment;
  3. Instruct officials to uphold Thailand’s international human rights obligations, including on the right to bail, freedom of expression, association and peaceful assembly.

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