WORLD: Trading liberty for security

WORLD: Trading liberty for security

“Badness Cannot Drive Out Badness”

“Badness Cannot Drive Out Badness”

The following article will appear as the editorial of the forthcoming issue of ‘Torture: Asian and Global Perspectives’, a bi-monthly magazine published by the Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC), based in Hong Kong and the Danish Institute Against Torture (DIGNITY) based in Denmark.

Nilantha Ilangamuwa

“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere”, wrote Martin Luther King, Jr., in his famous letter from Birmingham jail in April 1963. His words were aimed at the Jim Crow system and the unjust practices which prevented access to basic rights for some Americans. It was the period during which African-Americans raised their voices against injustice. While they did not win their struggle, it is fair to say they were able to reach a turning point from where recognition was attained that they also had the right to think and express themselves.

“(We’re) going to change the world. One day they’ll write about us. You’ll see,” noted Viola Gregg Liuzzo, one of King’s supporters and a remarkable human rights activist who was murdered by the Ku Klux Klan after the 1965 Selma to Montgomery march in Alabama.

Decades later, in 2009, the sentiment was reproduced, by the leader of the ‘free-word’ as the ‘struggle for freedom’. However, the political tamasha we the people saw during that time gave us a different taste of reality which has extended to the present situation of prevailing and spreading political anxiety among the people. We are therefore realizing again through experience that there are demons in disguise.

Time has value if one explores one’s experiences, for one’s mind decides mostly by experience. We have spent centuries trying to understand humanity and the capacity of the human mind to preserve its sovereignty.

Thereafter, we have spent more years to give form to our discoveries of morality and dignity resulting in sovereignty being confirmed through equal status until known otherwise. But, in reality neither the equality nor dignity of ordinary people are being preserved or enjoyed due to the politics that engages stigmatic operations against real freedoms. By and large, the unimaginable price of inequality has to be paid for, unconditionally, by each of us with or without our knowledge. It has directed society as a whole into its current state of anxiety.

Under these circumstances none can refute the basic notion raised by Alain de Botton in his book, Status Anxiety, that “Life seems to be a process of replacing one anxiety with another and substituting one desire for another–which is not to say that we should never strive to overcome any of our anxieties or fulfil any of our desires, but rather to suggest that we should perhaps build into our strivings an awareness of the way our goals promise us a respite and a resolution that they cannot, by definition, deliver.”

Where are we heading? What would be the end to all the anxieties we are currently experiencing? How could we, each one of us, as ‘people of this generation’, contribute to the form of the next step of our evolution as people?

Attack on Syria

The geopolitical situation in the world has entered another turning point in the wake of planned military strikes on Syria where over hundreds of thousands of civilians have already perished in the war between the government forces and rebels. In other words, it seems that global politics has approached the very edge of the precipice over contradictions on “military interventions”, which are the most unsuccessful strategies of reconciliation and restoration of the rule of law in certain jurisdictions. However, it is healthy news, though it might only be temporary, that the United States and Russia have reached a landmark agreement on the withdrawal of, or destruction of chemical arsenals controlled by the Government of Syria, headed by its long term President, Bashar Hafez al-Assad.

(Cartoon by Avantha Artigala)

‘Both parties reached a deal on a framework that will see the destruction or removal of Syria’s chemical weapons by mid- 2014’, states a report by Moscow based media. The truth is out there, as the saying goes. The use of chemical weapons by someone against their enemies is no doubt the most heinous crime against humanity and mankind. It was not only in Syria, where recently over 1,400 people, including infants, children, and women, were killed in chemical attacks. World War II, the Vietnam War, Kosovo, Libya, and the infamous Fallujah, Iraq, have all taught us bitter lessons on the use of chemical weapons, though only a small number of rights groups urge for accountability on those crimes at the time when they occurred. While teaching how to destroy or remove the chemical weapons preserved by the “bad guys”, it’s good to learn who made them first and who used them first against whom.

Duplicity has always created room for criminals and it has opened tremendous opportunities for those who want to hide the truth. It has directly attacked the system of human justice and it has evaporated the hope of freedom.

What we have been deliberately ignoring here is our own tendency to sanctify someone, when the facts that we or our allies collected has led to the victimization of the innocent. This method has played a bad role in many places in the world. Here is where Secretary of State, Mr. John Kerry’s, argument, “providing this framework is fully implemented it can end the threat these weapons pose not only to the Syrian people but also their neighbours,” is not only debatable but laughable. It is enough to understand the real bitterness of this kind of political game play, if you are able to read at least one narrative of the victims who were detained in the Guantánamo bay prison on suspicion of engagement in terrorism.

Ahmad Zubair, who was former prisoner and hunger striker at Guantánamo, released in 2009, noted, in a sworn statement submitted to a US court by Ramzi Kassem, “During each force-feeding, my nose bleeds. The pain from each force-feeding is so excruciating that I am unable to sleep at night because of the pain in my throat.” He also explained that, at one point, the authorities arranged for his mother to call the prison, who “urged him to drop the hunger strike.” Zuhair said, “My family did not know what I was going through at Guantánamo — the humiliation, the torture, the solitary confinement.” How can the Secretary of State genuinely declare, that the removal or destruction of chemical weapons and arsenals would end the threat to the people, when his own room is the stage for playing the notorious game of mistreating political prisoners.

When it comes to chemical weapons, history is much clearer on the facts and their use against civilians since the first use of chemical weapons in 1915-17 by the Germans.

Reports indicate that, the U.S. still holds approximately 5,500 tons of chemical weapons while Russia has much more, about 21,500, inherited from Soviet arsenals.

At the same time, it is important to know who refused to sign the agreement on the Chemical Weapons Convention which came onto force in 1997. Signing or refusing the agreement is not important. But, the core issue is ratified by those laws. The best example is the nuclear capability that the government of Israel developed, under the pretext of threat from neighbouring Arab nations. While quoting the well-known defence magazine, Jane’s, one analyst says, “It (Israel) has the ability to develop an offensive chemical weapons program within several months.” The major reason for many Arab countries refusing to sign the Chemical Weapon Convention is the nuclear capability that Israel has.

The crisis in Syria prevailing in this framework is not just a simple articulated formula that can be used against “bad guys”, to establish one’s dominant ideology among the people, but political complicity of power played against truth and justice. If one doesn’t have an enemy one must first give birth to the enemy before one prepares a systematic attack on him. The theory which played out in ‘Kissingerian’ diplomacy has reduced its own space of play in modern political culture.

That is why the attack on Syria is not an easy game to play. What none can refuse is, as Martin Luther King Jr. said, ‘darkness cannot drive out darkness.’ In other words, ‘badness cannot drive out badness.’

Pillay in Sri Lanka

In these circumstances, it was remarkable that Dr. Navanethem Pillay made an official visit to Sri Lanka, which was noted to be the longest visit she has made to a single country, after assuming her current office. She concluded the visit with a comprehensive, comparative, and in-depth remark on the present political structure and its motivation in the island nation.

“Despite the opportunity provided by the end of the war to construct a new vibrant, all-embracing state, (the leadership) is showing signs of heading in an increasingly authoritarian direction…,” noted Dr. Pillay. In her statement made in Colombo, she has given a drop of water to the people thirsting for justice and freedom. It is just a silver lining around a very dark cloud; a tiny ray of hope for the hopeless.

Her observations constantly focused on the root causes of the problem in Sri Lanka, and its institutional collapse. The President of the country later gave a feverish answer by saying that it is laughable to say that the country which is conducting elections in time and asking for power of the people is heading towards authoritarianism.

Similar comments came from the former President of Sri Lanka, J. R. Jayawardhana, a few years after he created the most notorious constitution for the Island nation, in 1978, while introducing an Executive Presidency that was above the law. It was neither a module of Charles de Gaulle’s politics nor the module of the United State’s presidential system but a political curse which destroyed the last milestone of personal liberty in this country. However, in his speech J.R.J said, “I think the UNP way was truly democratic, for they listened to the voice of the people, for ‘Vox Papuli, Vox Dei’, (the voice of the people is the Voice of God).” But at that time only few local people were able to recognize the true face of this untruth and almost no one from the international community opposed it. The result was over 30,000 forced disappearances in the southern part of the country, with the entire Island left to burn in the bloodiest civil war.

Now, years later, for the first time, a key player in opinion-making in global politics, Navi Pillay, has come on track of the real problem faced by Sri Lanka, and she was able to articulate the crisis through ground realities rather than long distance predictions based on political gossip.

The present political situation is leading us to understand and appreciate the importance of personal liberty. Quoting Benjamin Franklin, American political scientist, James Otteson, noted recently, ‘Liberty is also the thing that gives us dignity. We have human, moral dignity because we have liberty. So if we are giving our liberty away in exchange for security, we’re not only losing the liberty, but we’re also losing to that same extent some of our dignity. That’s a very high price to pay and once we give up that liberty it may be very difficult to ever get it back.’

Torture: Asian and Global Perspectives is a bi-monthly magazine which focuses on torture and its related issues globally. Writers interested in having their research on this subject published, may submit their articles to

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TAHR Essay Contest 2013


การประกวดบทความชิงเงินรางวัล กรุณาพิจารณาส่งให้ญาติมิตรทุกเพศ วัย ระดับการศึกษา ฯลฯ  กำหนดส่งวันสุดท้าย 10 ตุลาคม ศกนี้ ครับ  ท่านจะกรุณาส่งผลงานเข้าร่วมก็ยินดี หรือจะช่วยส่งต่อก็ยิ่งขอบคุณมาก  ท่านสามารถส่งไปให้วงการต่าง ๆ พระสงฆ์ ข้าราชการ และบุคคลทั่วไป  หรือส่งไปให้โรงเรียน มหาวิทยาลัย บุคคล หน่วยงาน และชุมชนต่าง ๆ ให้กว้างไกลที่สุด เท่าที่จะกรุณาช่วยได้นะครับ เพื่อคนไทยจะได้ตื่นตัวกันในเรื่องสิทธิมนุษยชนกันให้มากที่สุด  ขอบพระคุณครับ
President, Thai Alliance for Human Rights               .
President, Thai People’s Revolutionary University for Democracy
OfficialAds-TAHREssayContest-2013-newdates.pdf  OfficialAds-TAHREssayContest-2013-newdates.pdf
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เพิ่มเติม 16 กันยายน 2556
ฝากพี่น้องร่วมส่งผลงาน หรือส่งต่อข้อความประชาสัมพันธ์การสร้างจิตสำนึกสิทธิมนุษยชน ชิงเงินรางวัลของภาคีไทยเพื่อสิทธิ มนุษยชน (ตามข้อความข้างล่าง)  ไปยังโรงเรียน มหาวิทยาลัย วัด หน่วยงานราชการ และกลุ่มคนไทยใกล้ ๆ ตัวท่าน ให้กว้างไกลที่สุดนะครับ



ภาคีไทยเพื่อสิทธิมนุษยชน แจ้งลิ้งค์เพิ่มเติมสำหรับดาวน์โหลดระเบียบการแข่งขันบทความสั้น ชิงเงินรางวัล ที่หนึ่ง 100000 บาท ที่สอง 50000 บาท ที่สาม 20000 บาท และรางวัลชมเชยอีก 10 รางวัล ๆ ละ 3000 บาท

อย่าลืม กำหนดส่งผลงานวันสุดท้าย เที่ยงคืน วันที่ 10 ตุลาคม 2556


THAILAND: Delayed Accountability and Continued Impunity for State Violence


September 5, 2013


Language(s): English only


Twenty-fourth session, Agenda Item 3, General Debate

*A written statement submitted by the Asian Legal Resource Centre
(ALRC), a non-governmental organisation with general consultative

*THAILAND:** Delayed Accountability and Continued Impunity for State

1. The Asian Legal Resource Centre (ALRC) wishes to raise grave
concerns with the Human Rights Council about ongoing impunity for
state violence during the crackdown on the supporters of the United
Front for Democracy Against Dictatorship (UDD), or the “Red Shirts,
during April-May 2010 in Thailand.

2. Beginning in early 2006, the group of citizens who became the
People’s Alliance for Democracy (PAD), or the “Yellow Shirts,” began
to organize protests calling for the ouster of the elected prime
minister, Thaksin Shinawatra, and the protection of the nation and
traditional organizations, including the monarchy. On 19 September
2006, the military intervened and launched an extraconstitutional coup
to oust Thaksin. While no blood was shed during the coup itself, the
widespread political contention and violence in the nearly seven years
since the coup can be seen as the legacy of the abrogation of the rule
of law. The coup began a cycle of political contention and street
protests between the royalist-nationalist PAD, who opposed Thaksin,
and the group of citizens who became the populist UDD, who were
against the coup. As part of the political contention, the
Constitutional Court carried out a series of dissolutions of political
parties: first, the Thai Rak Thai Party (TRT) of Thaksin Shinawatra in
May 2007, and then the People’s Power Party (PPP), which TRT
reconstituted itself as, in December 2008.

3. The political contention reached a height between March and May
2010, when thousands of supporters of the UDD occupied central areas
in Bangkok calling for new elections and end to double standards in
politics. During the two months of the occupation, the relationship
between the UDD and state security forces were often contentious. In
response to the protests and the presence of thousands of
demonstrators in the capital city of Bangkok, the Democrat Party
government of Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva declared a State of
Emergency in Bangkok and surrounding areas on 7 April 2010 under the
Emergency Decree on Government Administration in a State of Emergency
(“Emergency Decree”). On 13 May 2010, the State of Emergency was
expanded to include another 12 provinces in northern, northeastern,
and central Thailand; by late May, it was expanded to be in force in a
total of 24 provinces across the country. The Emergency Decree gives
blanket powers to state actors to resolve the State of Emergency,
including by making arrests, censoring the press, restricting movement
and using armed force. A temporary agency, the Center for the
Resolution of the Emergency Situation (CRES) was set up to coordinate
state action under the Emergency Decree. During the 14th session of
the Council in June 2010, the ALRC expressed concern about the
arbitrary interrogation and detention of activists under emergency
regulations, as well as the difficulty of securing information about
the numbers and nature of the interrogation and detention.

4. In a series of incidents beginning on 10 April 2010 and ending on
19 May 2010, the government of PM Abhisit Vejjajiva decided to use the
army and ultimately deadly force to enact a crackdown to remove the
UDD protestors from the streets. At least 92 people were killed and at
least 2100 were injured during the two-month period. The use of deadly
and disproportionate force by Thai state security forces was a
significant breach of international human rights standards. While the
ALRC notes that some members of UDD may have had weapons, the burden
in this instance was on the state to take appropriate measures to
protect the rights and lives of citizens.

5. In the over three years since the conclusion of violence, state
efforts to document who perpetrated acts of violence and to secure
accountability for the overwhelmingly civilian deaths and injuries
have been partial at best, and verge on negligence. While the
judiciary under the governments of both Prime Minister Abhisit
Vejjajiva, and the Pheu Thai government of Prime Minister Yingluck
Shinawatra, who was elected in July 2011, have actively prosecuted
members of the UDD on charges of terrorism and arson, prosecutors have
not brought charges against members of the state security forces for
their roles during April and May 2010. In addition, despite extensive
state resources being devoted to three different information-gathering
processes about the events, the two reports revealed to the public
have been flawed and incomplete and one report remains unreleased at

6. The ALRC would like to remind the Government of Thailand of the
Commission on Human Rights’ updated set of principles for the
protection and promotion of human rights through action to combat
impunity (E/CN.4/2005/102/Add.1). The Commission described the
obligations of states to end impunity and secure accountability in the
aftermath of state violence as follows: “Impunity arises from a
failure by States to meet their obligations to investigate violations;
to take appropriate measures in respect of the perpetrators,
particularly in the area of justice, by ensuring that those suspected
of criminal responsibility are prosecuted, tried and duly punished; to
provide victims with effective remedies and to ensure that they
receive reparation for the injuries suffered; to ensure the
inalienable right to know the truth about violations; and to take
other necessary steps to prevent a recurrence of violations.” The ALRC
is concerned that without sincere and concerted effort by the
Government of Thailand, the long history of impunity in the country
will be further consolidated by the failure to bring perpetrators of
the violence of April-May 2010 to justice.

7. A series of investigations have been carried out by different
kinds of actors, including a state agency, two state-appointed
independent bodies, and a citizen group. The citizen group, the
People’s Information Center (PIC), released their report in late
August 2012; the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Thailand
(TRCT), the first of the independent bodies, released a short report
in September 2012 and their full report in July 2013; and the National
Human Rights Commission (NHRC), the second of the independent bodies,
released their report in August 2013. The report of the state agency,
the Department of Special Investigation (DSI), has not been made
public. The ALRC would like to highlight that in comparison to the
reports of both the TRCT and the NHRC, the report of the People’s
Information Center (PIC), a citizen group, released in September 2012,
represents a rigorous accounting of the events of March-May 2010. The
ALRC views the report of the PIC as an important action by citizens in
the service of protecting human rights and ending impunity. Further,
particularly in the case of the gross misunderstandings of basic human
rights principles reflected in the NHRC report, the ALRC would like to
express concern that the state is either not as concerned with
securing accountability as citizens, or lacks the capacity to do so.
Either of these explanations indicates a significant obstacle to the
consolidation and promotion of human rights in Thailand.

8. Although postmortem inquests have been initiated by the state
prosecutor and carried out in some of the cases of the April-May 2010
deaths, no charges have been filed against state officials for their
clear roles in the violence. To examine but one example, on the final
day of the crackdown, 19 May 2010, 6 civilians were killed inside a
Buddhist temple, Wat Pathum Wanaram, which was close to the center of
the protests. On 6 August 2013, the Bangkok Southern court ruled in
the postmortem inquest in Black Case No. C5/2555 that these 6
civilians were killed by soldiers. The court noted that, “The deaths
were caused by being shot with .223 or 5.56 mm bullets and the
direction of fire was from where the competent officials were
stationed to perform their duties to maintain order on the BTS’s rail
tracks in front of Wat Pathum Wanaram Ratcha Worawiharn and around
Rama I Road. At the instructions of the Center for Resolution of
Emergency Situation (CRES), the officials took control over the area
of the Ratchaprasong Intersection. And as a result of that, the first
deceased died of gunshot wounds on his lungs and heart causing
hemorrhage, the second deceased died of gunshot wound that destroyed
his lungs, the third deceased died of gunshot wounds that destroyed
his lungs, heart and liver, the fourth deceased died of gunshot wounds
that destroyed his lungs and liver, the fifth deceased died of gunshot
wounds that destroyed her brain and the sixth deceased died of gunshot
wounds that went through his oral cavity, whilst no particular
perpetrators can be identified” (unofficial translation provided by
Prachatai). Given the conclusion by the court, it is incumbent upon
the Government of Thailand to ensure that the case does not end with
the inquest, but that further action is taken so that the officials
responsible for carrying out the violence and the officials
responsible for ordering the violence are held to account.

9. In early August 2013, the Parliament began to examine amnesty
bills related to political events and violence after the 19 September
2006 coup. On 6 August 2013, the Office of the UN High Commission on
Human Rights expressed concern that the draft bills being examined
might, if enacted, pardon those involved in the violation of human
rights and called on the Government of Thailand to ensure that those
responsible for violating human rights be excluded by the amnesty and
that perpetrators be prosecuted for their actions. The ALRC would like
to echo the OHCHR’s concern and to further note that the categories of
state officials to be pardoned by the draft amnesty bill of MP
Worachai Hema, the bill currently being examined, are unclear.

10. In view of the above and in line with the principles for the
protection and promotion of human rights through action to combat
impunity, the Asian Legal Resource Center calls on the UN Human Rights
Council to:

Call on the Government of Thailand to ensure that the amnesty bill
ultimately passed redresses, rather than consolidates, impunity and
the violation of human rights.
Call on the Government of Thailand to ensure that the judicial
processes related to April-May 2010 violence do not end with inquests
but continue to the prosecution of the responsible state officials in
accordance with the law.
Urge the Government of Thailand to expedite the release of the
report of the Department of Special Investigation (DSI) regarding the
April-May 2010 violence.
Request the Office of the UN High Commissioner on Human Rights to
continue monitoring developments related to accountability for the
April-May 2010 violence in Thailand.

*# # #


*/About the ALRC: /*/The Asian Legal Resource Centre is an
independent regional non-governmental organisation holding general
consultative status with the Economic and Social Council of the United
Nations. It is the sister organisation of the Asian Human Rights
Commission. The Hong Kong-based group seeks to strengthen and
encourage positive action on legal and human rights issues at the
local and national levels throughout Asia.// /

Read this online from AHRC

24th Session of the UN Human Rights Council – AHRC

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24th Session of the UN Human Rights Council – ALRC

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THAILAND: The Normalization of the Violation of Human Rights in the Name of Protecting the Monarchy


August 30, 2013


Language(s): English only


Twenty-fourth session, Agenda Item 3, General Debate

*A written statement submitted by the Asian Legal Resource Centre
(ALRC), a non-governmental organisation with general consultative

*THAILAND:** The Normalization of the Violation of Human Rights in
the Name of Protecting the Monarchy*

1. The Asian Legal Resource Centre (ALRC) wishes to raise concerns
about the normalization of the violation of human rights in the name
of protecting the monarchy in Thailand with the Human Rights Council.
This statement is the seventh on this topic that the ALRC has
submitted to the Council since May 2011. During the seventeenth
session of the Council in May 2011, the ALRC highlighted the rise in
the legal and unofficial use of Article 112 of the Criminal Code and
the 2007 Computer Crimes Act (CCA) to constrict freedom of expression
and intimidate citizens critical of the monarchy (A/HRC/17/NGO/27).
During the nineteenth session in February 2012, the ALRC detailed some
of the threats faced both by those who have expressed critical views
of the monarchy, both legal and extralegal, as well as those who have
expressed concern about these threats (A/HRC/19/NGO/55). During the
twentieth session in June 2012, the ALRC raised concerns about the
weak evidentiary basis of convictions made under Article 112 and the
CCA (A/HRC/20/NGO/37) and the concerning conditions surrounding the
death in prison custody of Amphon Tangnoppakul on 8 May 2012, then
serving a 20-year sentence for four alleged violations of Article 112
and the CCA (A/HRC/20/NGO/38). During the twenty-second session in
March 2013, the ALRC highlighted the January 2013 conviction under
Article 112 of human rights defender and labour rights activist Somyot
Prueksakasemsuk (A/HRC/22/NGO/44). During the twenty-third session in
June 2013, the ALRC emphasized the regularization of the crisis of
freedom of expression in Thailand, and noted that constriction of
speech had become constitutive of political and social life in
Thailand (A/HRC/23/NGO/42).

2. Over the course of the prior six statements, the ALRC first noted
with surprise the active use of measures to constrict speech, then
tracked the expansion of this use, and finally, the entrenchment of
the foreclosure of freedom of speech. The ALRC is again raising the
issue of freedom of expression with the Council in order to ensure
that the regularization of this threat to human rights does not lead
to it being normalized or forgotten. In the statement submitted to the
Council in June 2013, the ALRC cautioned that current conditions
threatened to normalize the routine denial of bail to individuals
awaiting trial and appeal, the provision of substandard medical care
in prisons, and the use of secrecy to restrict the openness of trials
and public information about ongoing cases. In this statement, the
ALRC wishes to alert the Human Rights Council to ongoing developments
that lend weight to these concerns and underscore the urgency of
addressing the crisis of freedom of expression in Thailand.

3. Article 112 criminalizes criticism of the monarchy and mandates
that, “Whoever defames, insults or threatens the King, Queen, the
Heir-apparent or the Regent, shall be punished with imprisonment of
three to fifteen years.” The 2007 CCA, which was promulgated as part
of Thailand’s compliance as a signatory to the United Nations
Convention Against Transnational Organized Crime, has been used to
target web editors and websites identified as critical of the monarchy
or dissident in other ways. The CCA provides for penalties of up to
five years per count in cases which are judged to have involved the
dissemination or hosting of information deemed threatening to national
security, of which the institution of the monarchy is identified as a
key part. While Article 112 has been part of the Criminal Code since
the last major revision in 1957, available statistics suggest that
there has been a dramatic increase in the number of complaints filed
since the 19 September 2006 coup; how often these complaints become
formal charges and lead to prosecutions is information that the
Government of Thailand has continuously failed to provide up to the
present. The CCA has often been used in combination with Article 112
in the four years since its promulgation; similar to the use of
Article 112, complete usage information has not been made available by
the Government of Thailand. This failure to provide information
creates fear and diminishes the space for freedom of expression
through the use of secrecy and creation of uncertainty.

4. At present, there are 4 persons known to be serving prison terms
for alleged violations of Article 112 and/or the CCA and 1 person
behind bars while undergoing trial.

a. Daranee Charnchoengsilpakul was convicted of violations of Article
112 related to 55 minutes of speech and sentenced to 18 years in
prison on 28 August 2009. Following examination of her case by the
Constitutional Court, her sentenced was reduced to 15 years in
December 2011. The Appeal Court upheld her conviction and sentence in
May 2013.

b. Surachai Sae Dan (Danwattananusorn) was convicted of a series of
violations of Article 112 related to political speeches he made and
sentenced to a total of 12.5 years in prison in a series of cases in
2012. He has submitted a request for a royal pardon and is awaiting
the outcome.

c. Somyot Prueksakasemsuk was convicted of violations of Article 112
related to his work in editing and publishing /Voice of Taksin/
magazine, which was deemed to include two anti-monarchy articles
(written by someone else) and sentenced to a total of 11 years in
prison on 23 January 2013 (10 years on Article 112-related charges and
1 year related to a prior case). He has submitted an appeal to the
Appeal Court and is currently awaiting a decision.

d. Ekachai Hongkangwan was convicted of violations of Article 112
related to selling VCDs of an ABC Australia documentary and copies of
WikiLeaks material and sentenced to 3 years and 4 months in prison on
28 March 2013. He has submitted an appeal to the Appeal Court and is
currently awaiting a decision.

e. Yutthapoom (last name withheld) has been held in the Bangkok
Remand Prison since 19 September 2012 on charges of violating Article
112 following a complaint submitted by his older brother related to a
conversation they had while watching television at home. The witness
hearings in his case began on 20 August 2013, after he endured 333
days of pre-trial detention.

6. Common to these 5 cases is that the individuals involved have
repeatedly been denied bail, always on the grounds that their crimes
are too grave a threat to national security to permit even temporary
release, despite full cooperation of all parties in investigation and
prosecution. Although some individuals were granted bail while
awaiting trial, upon conviction they were all denied bail, despite
ongoing processes of appeal. This is in contravention to Article 9(3)
of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR),
to which Thailand is a state party, which specifies: “Anyone arrested
or detained on a criminal charge shall be brought promptly before a
judge or other officer authorized by law to exercise judicial power
and shall be entitled to trial within a reasonable time or to release.
It shall not be the general rule that persons awaiting trial shall be
detained in custody, but release may be subject to guarantees to
appear for trial, at any other stage of the judicial proceedings, and,
should occasion arise, for execution of the judgment.”

7. To raise one notable example of the denial of bail, Somyot
Prueksakasemsuk (5c above), submitted his 15th request for bail on 24
July 2013. Along with the application, approximately 152,000 USD of
property deeds were submitted as security with the request. On 26 July
2013, the Appeal Court denied the request. The justification offered
was that as Somyot had been sentenced to a prison term greater than 10
years, if he was released, there was a danger that he might flee. The
Appeal Court further noted that, “The actions of the defendant
impacted public order and the feelings of the people,” and so his
release on bail was not warranted.

8. Bail is routinely granted during trials and after conviction while
awaiting appeal in cases of committing violent crimes in Thailand, but
routinely denied for cases involving freedom of speech. To offer one
example, on 30 July 2012, in Black Case No. 3252/2552, 3466/2552, the
Criminal Court found five police officers guilty of brutally murdering
Kiettisak Thitboonkrong, age 17, in 2004 as part of the so-called “War
on Drugs,” in which close to 3000 people were extrajudicially killed
across Thailand. Three of the police offers were found guilty of
premeditated murder and hiding a corpse and sentenced to death. One
police officer was found guilty of premeditated murder and sentenced
to life imprisonment. One police officer was found guilty of abusing
his authority to aid in protecting his subordinates from criminal
prosecution and sentenced to seven years’ imprisonment. All five
police officers were granted bail while they appeal their conviction.
In all but one of these instances, the police were sentenced to longer
prison terms than Somyot Prueksakasemsuk, yet they were granted bail.
Given the explanation by the Appeal Court when they denied Somyot’s
request that the length of his sentence meant that he might flee and
that his crime impacted public order, granting the police officers
bail seems strange. In the absence of an explanation from the Court,
this collection of actions suggests that constricting dissident speech
and protecting the monarchy are more important to the Thai state than
ensuring accountability for extrajudicial violence committed against
citizens by state actors.

9. The ALRC is gravely concerned about the effects of the ongoing
entrenchment of the constriction of freedom of expression on human
rights, justice, and the rule of law in Thailand. The frequency of the
exercise of the draconian Article 112 and CCA risks the naturalization
and normalization of violations of rights and the constriction of
speech and political freedom. The ALRC would like to remind the
Government of Thailand that under Article 19 of the ICCPR,
restrictions on the right to freedom of expression are only
permissible under two circumstances: “for respect of the rights or
reputations of others” and “for the protection of national security or
of public order (ordre public), or of public health or morals.” While
measure 112 is classified as a crime against national security within
the Criminal Code of Thailand, and this, along with the need to
protect the monarchy, is frequently cited by the Government of
Thailand when faced with the criticism that the measure is in tension
with the ICCPR, a precise explanation of the logic for categorizing
the measure as such has not been provided to date. Until this
explanation is provided, the constriction of freedom of expression is

10. In view of the above, the Asian Legal Resource Center calls on
the UN Human Rights Council to:

Call on the Government of Thailand to release all those convicted or
facing charges under Article 112 and the 2007 Computer Crimes Act. At
a minimum, those currently being held should immediately be granted
bail while their cases are in the Criminal or Appeal Courts.
Demand that the Government of Thailand revoke Article 112 of the
Criminal Code and the 2007 Computer Crimes Act.
Urge the Government of Thailand to allow and support the full
exercise of freedom of expression and political freedom, consistent
with the terms of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, to which
it is a signatory, and the International Covenant on Civil and
Political Rights, to which it is a state party.
Request the Special Rapporteur on the freedom of opinion and
expression to continue ongoing monitoring and research about the
brought situation of constriction of rights and individual cases in
Thailand; and, the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention to continue to
monitor and report on those cases of persons arbitrarily detained
under Article 112.

About the ALRC:

The Asian Legal Resource Centre is an independent regional non-governmental organisation holding general consultative status with the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations. It is the sister organisation of the Asian Human Rights Commission. The Hong Kong-based group seeks to strengthen and encourage positive action on legal and human rights issues at the local and national levels throughout Asia.

Read this online from AHRC

24th Session of the UN Human Rights Council – AHRC

Read this online from ALRC

24th Session of the UN Human Rights Council – ALRC

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