Impunity report from Southeast Asia: The role of the state in six emblematic cases

Impunity report from Southeast Asia: The role of the state in six emblematic cases

20 November 2013
Southeast Asian Press Alliance 

Cambodians celebrate the release of independent radio station owner Mam Sonando in Phnom Penh, March 2013
Cambodians celebrate the release of independent radio station owner Mam Sonando in Phnom Penh, March 2013
 Cambodian Center for Human Rights (CCHR)

Follow-up report on six cases of impunity and the role of the state in Southeast AsiaSince fellow free expression advocates agreed to mark 23 November as theInternational Day to End Impunity (IDEI) beginning in 2011, SEAPA has highlighted a number of cases to emphasize that the culture of impunity persists throughout the region.In practice, SEAPA’s campaign has focused on cases of impunity – which means the absence of punishment – for acts of violence against journalists and activists, and on cases repeated state violations of international law protecting the fundamental right to freedom of opinion and expression.

Perpetrators escaping culpability for acts of violence against free expression and against the media is a serious problem throughout the region, whether in free or tightly controlled media environments. Generally, states have been unable to deliver justice for the overwhelming proportion of the incidents of violence against the media and free speech, whether committed by state or non-state actors.

For example, the unsolved 1996 killing of Indonesian journalist Fuad Muhammad Syafruddin, also known as “Udin”, is due to expire in August 2014after the statute of limitations for acts of murder expires.

At the same time, state sanctions against acts of free expression are a blunt and forceful way of suppressing opinion and speech. Moreover, each state violation – which is essentially the use of government’s might – sends the message to citizens the state will only accept acquiescence and wants to suppress dissent.

For the 2013 commemoration of the IDEI, SEAPA has chosen to focus on the role of the state both in fostering the culture of impunity and to emphasize the necessity of a systematic official response to ending this culture.

Below, we share updates on what happened in 2013 to six impunity cases that SEAPA has highlighted in its alerts and campaigns in the past years: the Ampatuan massacre in the Philippines, the imprisonment of broadcaster Mam Sonando of Cambodia and blogger Dieu Cay of Vietnam, the deaths of Cambodian journalist Heng Serei Oudom and Italian photojournalist Fabio Polenghi in Thailand, and the disappearance of Laotian development worker Sombath Somphone.

All of these cases occurred before 2013, with the disappearance of Sombath Somphone being the last incident presented in this article. Each case highlights an important aspect of the role of the state in ending impunity.

Ampatuan Massacre: Speedy, effective justice mechanisms

Four years after the incident in the Philippines, a remaining four of the detained suspects in the massacre have yet to be arraigned for their roles in the gruesome incident. The last court activity happened on 2 October, when two of the principal suspects pleaded “not guilty” to 58 counts of murder during their arraignment.

This stage of the legal process means that the court cannot even begin to hear the evidence to establish the guilt of 105 suspects currently under arrest. A total of 194 people stand accused in the Ampatuan massacre trial, but the remaining 89 have yet to be arrested.

Defence lawyers have placed obstacle after obstacle using the Rules of Court to delay the process that at this rate may take decades to complete.

The Ampatuan massacre on 23 November 2009 is believed to be the worst single act of violence committed against media workers, which included 32 of the 58 victims of the incident related to elections. The incident is emblematic of the unbridled power of some local government executives in maintaining power and control in their jurisdiction. The Philippines press is recognized to be one of the freest in the region, and impunity for violence against the media is perhaps its biggest threat.

Fabio Polenghi killing: Accountability of the armed forces

On 29 May 2013, a Thailand court inquest ruled that the bullet that killed news photographer Fabio Polenghi came from the direction of government soldiers during military operations to disperse protracted anti-government protests in 2010. The ruling marks significant progress in the quest for justice for Fabio. However, it is not clear how the case will move forward from this point.

So far, not one soldier or military unit has been charged for any culpability for Polenghi’s or any of the civilian deaths during the dispersal operations.

Murder charges have been filed by the current government against former prime minister Abhisit Vejjajiva and his deputy Suthep Thaugsuban for ordering the use of force in dispersing the protests in which Polenghi was killed. However, these charges are among those included in the controversial amnesty bill, which aimed to absolve all criminal charges related to the political deadlock beginning in 2004.

Fabio Polenghi was killed on 19 May 2010 while covering the violent dispersal of the red-shirt protests. Polenghi and a companion were shot at despite being clearly identified as journalists. He was one of over 90 persons killed – mostly protesters but also including soldiers and another journalist – during this tumultuous period in Thailand politics.

Mam Sonando imprisonment: Rule of law

The saga of the unjust imprisonment of independent radio station owner Mam Sonando ended on 14 March 2013 when the Cambodian Appeals Court reduced his 20-year sentence to a five-year suspended sentence.

His freedom was the result of an unexpected move on 7 March by the prosecutor, who requested the court to drop the most serious charges of insurrection and incitement to secession against Mam Sonando and his co-accused. These were the same charges for which Mam Sonando was sentenced in October 2012, sparking a huge outcry from the international community which had called these charges spurious and fabricated.

In its place, the lesser charge of obstruction of law enforcement was retained, and an additional charge of “illegal logging” was filed. One week later, Mam Sonando was free. It is not clear whether the new charge against him has any basis as well.

Mam Sonando’s case is significant for reflecting the extent of steps which the Cambodian government is willing to take to silence its critics. Mam Sonando was jailed by authorities immediately upon his return to the country in July, after his radio station aired the filing of a case against the government in the International Criminal Court. State authorities linked him to a violent confrontation related to a land conflict in Kratie province, and accused him of leading villagers to secede from the state.

Heng Serei Oudom murder: protection of journalists

Despite the generally positive outlook in 2012 for the killing of Cambodian journalist Heng Serei Oudom, it appears that his case will end up like the majority of cases of violence against journalists in the region.

On 29 August 2013, a Cambodian provincial court dropped the charges against the two primary suspects in the case due to lack of sufficient evidence.

This is a drastic turn from the situation one year ago, when a judge declared that the investigation of main suspects was ‘finished’ and charges had been filed against two main suspects, military police captain An Bunheng and his wife. It appeared then that the killing of Heng Serei Oudom would be one of the few cases that would receive justice.

Court prosecutors declared in 2012 that they had found evidence linking the suspects to the murder of the journalist; he was found bludgeoned to death inside his car two days after he went missing on 10 September 2012.

The turn of events from the 29 August verdict surprised the journalist’s family, and media and environmental groups who were pushing for justice.

Heng Serei Oudom, a reporter from the Ratanakiri-based Vorakchun newspaper, was investigating the role of the military police in illegal logging and timber smuggling in the province. His last article, published four days before he went missing, linked the son of a military police official to illegal logging in the province.

Dieu Cay imprisonment: respecting dissenting opinions and actions

Renowned Vietnamese blogger and political prisoner Nguyen Van Hai, also known as Dieu Cay, staged a five-week hunger strike beginning in June to protest the lack of response to his complaint of maltreatment during his imprisonment.

In his case, prison authorities allegedly put him in solitary confinement for three months after he refused to sign documents confessing guilt for the charges on which he was convicted in September 2012.

Because of this mistreatment, Dieu Cay sent a complaint to the Provincial Procuracy in Nge Anh. After receiving no response, he began his hunger strike to draw the attention of the authorities to look into the case of abusive treatment. Family members told the media that Dieu Cay wanted to draw attention to the continuing harassment of imprisoned bloggers and activists.

Dieu Cay ended his hunger strike on 27 July after judicial authorities agreed to look into his complaint.

Dieu Cay and two other prominent bloggers were sentenced on 24 September 2012 on charges of conducting propaganda against the state. Their respective sentences were upheld on appeal on 28 December.

Sombath Somphone disappearance: regional co-responsibility for human rights

Renowned Lao development worker Sombath Somphone has been missingsince 15 December 2012. Despite global concern regarding his disappearance, Sombath remains missing with the Lao government having little to show in terms of progress or leads regarding his case.

His disappearance occurred about two months after a rare international civil society meeting in October 2012 called the Asia Europe People’s Forum, in which Sombath played a major role as one of the organisers. The meeting was one of the few opportunities for Lao communities to publicly raise issues they confront.

Sombath was last seen on 15 December, when he was forcibly driven off in his vehicle by an unidentified man after being stopped at a police checkpoint.

Appeals to find Sombath include those coming from regional and international civil society as well as delegations of parliamentarians from Southeast Asia and Europe. Despite this pressure, the Lao PDR government investigation into the case has failed to produce any credible explanation for the disappearance.

Sombath’s case is significant for the region not only because of the recognition he has received in his work – for example as a Ramon Magsaysay awardee in 2005 – given the limited space for civil society to operate in Laos. Community development is the only area of NGO activity allowed in Laos, and is a major channel for international development assistance to Laos.

Sombath’s case is also the first case of an enforced disappearance in the region since governments in ASEAN adopted the ASEAN Human Rights Declaration, the first regional human rights instrument in Asia, on 18 November 2012. The AHRD also includes a prohibition against abduction (Article 12). The regional document has not changed the way Southeast Asian countries handle human rights issues: by treating these as internal issues of ASEAN members.

Week-long commemoration of the International Day to End Impunity

On 18 November, SEAPA launched its week-long commemoration of the IDEI.

The highlight of the campaign will be a brief discussion of the situation of impunity in the region with UN Special Rapporteur on right to freedom of opinion and expression Mr Frank La Rue, on 23 November at 11:30 a.m.

The campaign can be tracked through SEAPA’s website, and social media accounts in Facebook and Twitter (@seapabkk).

Statement from TAHRA (Australia)

Statement from TAHRA (ออสเตรเลีย)




วันที่ 12 พฤศจิกายน พ.ศ. 2556

ภาคีเพื่อสิทธิมนุษยชนไทย – ออสเตรเลีย

Thai Red Australia เป็นองค์กรเฉพาะกิจ เกิดจากการรวมตัวของพี่น้องคนไทยผู้รักประชาธิปไตยในออสเตรเลีย ประสานการต่อสู่ร่วมกับพี่น้องคนไทยผู้รักประชาธิปไตยทั้งในประเทศและนอกประเทศตลอดมา หลังการผลักดันจนได้มาซึ่งรัฐบาลตามแนวทางของระบอบประชาธิปไตย  จึงเข้าร่วมพันธกิจสนับสนุนแนวทางด้านอื่นๆ โดยเฉพาะด้านสิทธิมนุษยชน  กับองค์กรสิทธิมนุษยชนในประเทศออสออสเตรเลียและต่างประเทศทั่วโลก

จากการที่คณะกรรมการ Thai Red Australia แสดงเจตจำนงค์ ยื่นขอจดทะเบียนขึ้นเป็นองค์กรอย่างถูกต้องถาวร ภายใต้การรองรับของกฎหมายประเทศออสเตรเลียนั้น ขณะนี้มีความเปลี่ยนแปลงก้าวหน้าที่จะประกาศให้พี่น้องร่วมอุดมการณ์ทราบว่า ได้ผ่านการอนุมัติแล้ว ซึ่งสามารถดำเนินกิจกรรมตามวัตถุประสงค์ได้อย่างสมบูรณ์ และมีชื่อภาษาอังกฤษ ” THE THAI ALLIANCE FOR HUMAN RIGHTS – AUSTRALIA” ชื่อย่อ TAHRA และชื่อภาษาไทย  ” ภาคีเพื่อสิทธิมนุษยชนไทย – ออสเตรเลีย ”  ซื่อต่อจากนี้ จะเป็นองค์กรดำเนินกิจกรรมตามแนวทางประชาธิปไตยและสิทธิมนษยชน ในนามของพี่น้องคนไทยผู้รักประชาธิปไตยในออสเตรเลียกว้างขวางยิ่งขึ้นต่อไป

อนึ่ง จากสถานะการทางการเมือง ซึ่งถูกบ่มเพาะมาตลอดตั้งแต่ก่อนและหลังการเลือกตั้ง โดยขบวนการกลุ่มผู้สูญเสียอำนาจ และกลุ่มผู้ไม่ต้องการให้ประเทศไทยเปลี่ยนแปลง ไปสู่ประเทศที่มีการปกครองในระบอบประชาธิปไตยแท้จริง ได้ก้าวถึงสภาวะอันตรายสูงสุดของความคงอยู่ ของระบอบประชาธิปไตยที่ขับเคลื่อนด้วยระบบรัฐสภา โดยกลุ่มดังกล่าว ใช้เงื่อนไขจากการดำเนินนโยบายผิดพลาดของฝ่ายรัฐบาล  ในเรื่องการผลักดันกฎหมายนิรโทษกรรม ที่ขัดแย้งต่อความรู้สึกและความต้องการแท้จริงของประชาชนส่วนใหญ่ของประเทศ มาเป็นสาเหตุในการสร้างกระแสปฎิเสธระบบรัฐสภา เพื่อหวังให้ความขัดแย้ง ก้าวนำสู่การโค่นล้มระบอบประชาธิปไตยที่ประชาชนสร้างมา

ด้วยเหตุนี้ TAHRA จึงออกมาเพื่อแสดงจุดยืนร่วมกับพี่น้องคนไทยทั่วประเทศ และขอประกาศเรียกร้องว่า

1.     ด้วยเพราะเป็นการขัดเจตนารมณ์แท้จริงที่เป็นความต้องการของประชาชน และต่อหลักการสิทธิมนุษยชน จึงขอคัดค้านและไม่สนับสนุนให้รัฐบาล นำเสนอกฎหมายนิรโทษกรรม (พ.ร.บ.นิรโทษกรรม ฉบับแก้ไขโดยกรรมาธิการเสียงข้างมาก) นี้ มาประกาศมีผลบังคับใช้เป็นกฎหมายในทุกกรณีย์

2.     ให้รัฐบาลรีบดำเนินการออก พ.ร.ก. นิรโทษกรรม เพื่อปลดปล่อยประชาชนผู้เกี่ยวข้องทุกสีเสื้อ รวมทั้งนักโทษการเมือง คดี 112 ทั้งนี้จักไม่รวมแกนนำและผู้มีส่วนเกี่ยวข้อง ผู้ซึ่งเคยประสงค์ไม่ขอรับการนิรโทษกรรม

3.     ขอยืนยันเจตนารมณ์ที่ได้ประกาศไว้แล้วว่า จะร่วมกับพี่น้องคนไทยผู้ยึดมั่นในหลักการประชาธิปไตยทั้งในและนอกประเทศ ต่อต้านการรัฐประหาร การโค่นล้ม และ/หรือการฉ้อฉนเพื่อการได้มาซึ่งอำนาจ ที่มิได้เป็นไปตามครรลองของระบอบประชาธิปไตยทุกรูปแบบอย่างถึงที่สุด และขอเรียกร้องให้รัฐบาลดำเนินตามกฎหมายอย่างเคร่งครัดต่อบุคคลที่เข้าข่ายกระทำความผิดโดยไม่ยกเว้น

สุดท้ายนี้ เพื่อให้การแก้ปัญหาเป็นไปตามครรลองประชาธิปไตยและกฎหมาย เราจึงหวังเป็นอย่างยิ่งที่จะเห็นการยอมรับและการตอบสนองจากรัฐบาล จากทุกองค์กรและทุกหน่วยงานของรัฐ จากบุคคลและคณะบุคคลที่เกี่ยวข้องทั้งหมด เพื่อให้ประเทศไทยก้าวสู่การเป็นประชาธิปไตยตามที่ประชาชนคนไทยทุกคนปรารถนา

ภาคีเพื่อสิทธิมนุษยชนไทย – ออสเตรเลีย ( TAHRA)


ภาคีไทยเพื่อสิทธิมนุษยชน  TAHR  สำนักงานใหญ่ ฯ นครซานฟรานซิสโก สหรัฐอเมริกา สนับสนุนแถลงการณ์นี้

THAILAND: No amnesty for state-sponsored murder

from original :


November 6, 2013

A Statement by the Asian Human Rights Commission

THAILAND: No amnesty for state-sponsored murder

November 6, 2013

 The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) would like to express grave concern about the current state of the draft amnesty bill in Thailand. The draft amnesty bill (in full, the Draft Amnesty for Those Who Committed Offences as a Result of the Political Protests and Political Expression of the People B.E…..) is broad, vague, and appears to be motivated by political expediency at the expense of human rights, justice, and the rule of law. If passed in its current form, the bill will allow murderers to walk free without even a slap on the wrist. The amnesty will constitute the erasure of the suffering and losses of those who died or were injured as a result of violence perpetrated by state actors. In particular, if passed in its current form, the amnesty will allow those who were responsible for the deaths of 92 persons and the injuries of over 2000 during the clashes between state forces and Red Shirt protestors in April-May 2010 to evade accountability.

The core of the draft amnesty bill is in Article 3, the measure which describes which actors, what actions, and what period of time are to be covered by the law. In the initial draft, prepared by Mr. Worachai Hema, a Pheu Thai MP and his colleagues, Article 3 stipulated the following: “All actions of persons that were related to political demonstrations or political expression, or individuals who did not participate in political demonstrations but the motivation of the actions was related or connected to political conflict. By calling through speeches or broadcasting through whatever means to call for or create opposition to the state, self-defense, resistance to the operations of state officials, or rallies, demonstrations, or expressions using any means that could impact life, body, hygiene, property, or any rights of other individuals that were incidents related to political demonstrations or political expression from 19 September 2006 until 10 May 2011, are no longer offences, and the actors are absolved from wrongdoing and all responsibility. The actions in the first paragraph do not include the actions of those who had decision-making authority or decisive authority or directed political movements in the period specified above.”

In sum, the draft approved during the first reading exempted from responsibility all those involved in political demonstrations on all sides, including state actors but excluding those in positions of authority inside and outside the state, during the period of political conflict which began with the 19 September 2006 coup and ended with the dissolution of Parliament and announcement of elections on 10 May 2011. Parliament voted to accept this in principle during the first reading of the bill in August 2013. In a written submission to the UN Human Rights Council during the September 2013 session, the Asian Legal Resource Center (ALRC), the AHRC’s sister organization, echoed the concerns of the Office of the UN High Commission on Human Rights that the draft bill might allow those involved in the violation of human rights to be exempt from punishment, and further noted that the categories of those to be amnestied were unclear.

Subsequent to the first reading, an ad hoc committee of MPs was appointed to examine the draft amnesty bill. In late October 2013, they returned the draft to the full assembly for the second and third readings. The ad hoc committee made significant changes to Article 3. In the current draft version, Article 3 stipulates that: “All actions of persons or people that are related to political demonstrations, political expression, political conflicts or those accused of being wrongdoers by a group of individuals or an entity established after the coup of 19 September 2006, including organizations or agencies who proceeded in relation to the aforementioned matters that occurred between 2004 and 8 August 2013, whether the person undertaking actions did so as a principal, supporter, someone who ordered [others] to take action, or some who used [by others], if those actions were illegal, the actors are absolved from wrongdoing and all responsibility.”

In sum, the draft returned by the ad hoc committee and approved during the second and third readings exempts all involved persons from responsibility, including state officials who gave orders and protest leaders who directed demonstrations. This draft also expands the period of time covered by the amnesty to begin in 2004 (although when precisely in 2004 is not specified) and to extend until August 2013. As human rights activists have raised, this then seems to be an attempt to extend the amnesty, which already will provide impunity to those state actors who perpetrated violence during the April-May 2010 crackdown on Red Shirt protestors, to cover the incidents of the Krue Se and Tak Bai massacres, the disappearance of human rights defender (HRD) and lawyer Somchai Neelaphaichit, and the murders of other HRDs which took place during the years in which Thaksin Shinawatra was prime minister before being extraconstitutionally ousted in the 19 September 2006 coup. This draft version of the bill was passed by Parliament in the second and third readings on 31 October and 1 November 2013, and has now been forwarded to the Senate for examination.

If an amnesty bill which contains this version of Article 3 becomes law, the long history of impunity in the country will be further consolidated by the passage of this amnesty bill. The AHRC would like to remind responsible actors of the state responsibilities to end impunity and to urge concerted effort to act in the service of human rights. In the 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 United Nations Commission on Human Rights described the obligation 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.”

What makes this draft amnesty a signal of a particular crisis of impunity in Thailand is that in contrast to earlier instances of mass state violence, namely 14 October 1973, 6 October 1976, and May 1992, there has been extensive investigation of the violence of April-May 2010, and the beginnings of judicial processes to hold state perpetrators to account. 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. In comparison to the reports of both the TRCT and the NHRC, the report of the PIC 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. Although the AHRC wishes to note concerns about the lacunae in the TRCT and NHRC reports, and dismay at the continued refusal of the DSI to release their report to the public, this marks the first time in Thai history that there has been a sustained, public attempt at gathering information about state violence carried out by state, or state-appointed, agencies.

Further, in addition to gathering information, judicial proceedings have begun in many instances with post-mortem inquests into the deaths of April-May 2010. 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, the AHRC is concerned that if the amnesty is passed in its current form, it means that the case will end with the inquest, rather than further action being taken so that the officials responsible for carrying out the violence and the officials responsible for ordering the violence are held to account.

The dangers posed by the draft amnesty bill in its current form are not only specific to the instances of state violence and violation of human rights which have taken place since 2004, but extend into the future as well. In a recent statement criticizing the draft amnesty proposed by the Parliamentary ad hoc committee, the Khana Nitirat, a group of law lecturers at Thammasat University warned that in addition to being in direct conflict with the Thai state’s obligations under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), the amnesty will “further habituate[s] state officials, especially soldiers, to take such actions against the people without concern that they will have to accept legal responsibility in the future.”

At this important juncture in Thai history, the Asian Human Rights Commission calls on Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra, Members of Parliament, Senators, and all other responsible actors in Thailand to act in the service of ending impunity and fostering human rights. The AHRC is cognizant that it may not be possible to halt the amnesty process and recommends that if this is the case, that the Senate send the draft bill back to the Parliament for reconsideration and redrafting so as to bring any potential amnesty bill in line with the principle and rationale decided upon by the Parliament during the first reading.

However, rather than an amnesty bill being passed, the AHRC urges full and equal prosecution under existing criminal law for acts of violence committed during the protests and subsequent crackdown. The AHRC is concerned that if a blanket amnesty such as the current draft bill is passed, it will allow state officials who murdered citizens to evade being held to account. Given that the state prosecutor has already filed charges against former prime minister Abhisit Vejjajiva and former deputy prime minister Suthep Thaugsuban for their roles in ordering the killings, any amnesty that halts this process will amount to the direct obstruction of truth and justice. In addition to continuing with prosecutions against involved state officials, who have not been prosecuted to date, the AHRC urges review of the cases of Red Shirt activists who were prosecuted and sentenced to long prison terms related to their actions in the protests. In many cases, the accusations and prosecutions were highly politicized, and the AHRC is concerned that the judiciary may not have acted independently. Individuals who were prosecuted on the basis of their ideas, including those prosecuted under Article 112, the law which criminalizes alleged lese majeste, should be immediately released. The unprecedented documentation of information about the events of April-May 2010, including the ongoing inquest process, means that in comparison to prior instances of mass state violence in Thailand, there is an unprecedented opportunity to act in the service of justice and human rights, rather than the further entrenchment of impunity. This is an opportunity that must not be wasted.

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