TLHR director Yaowalak Anupan (Upper left) and lawyer Sirikan Charoensiri (centre)

TLHR awarded Clooney Foundation’s Justice for Democracy Defenders Award

Thai Lawyers for Human Rights (TLHR) was named a winner of the Clooney Foundation for Justice (CFJ)’s 2023 Albie Awards and presented with the Foundation’s annual Justice for Democracy Defenders Award.

The Albie Awards “aim to shine a spotlight on brave individuals who, at great personal risk, have devoted their lives to justice,” said CFJ, which awarded TLHR the Justice for Democracy Defenders Award “for their defence of thousands of students, activists and journalists who have been arrested under Thailand’s laws criminalising peaceful protest and speech.”

“Courageous justice defenders around the world face grave dangers that cannot be eliminated overnight,” said Amal and George Clooney, CFJ’s co-founders.

“But what we can do, in addition to our Foundation’s daily work, is shine a spotlight on the danger that these individuals are facing, raising the stakes for their persecutors.”

Other 2023 Albie Award winners include:

  1. Lifetime Achievement Award, given to Congolese gynaecologist and human rights advocate Dr Denis Mukwege, for working to stop rape as a weapon of war and save the lives of women in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
  2. Justice for Women Award, given to Niloofar Hamedi and Elahe Mohammadi, for their reporting on the death of Mahsa Amini, a 22-year-old Iranian woman who died in custody in 2022 after she was arrested by Iran’s morality police for allegedly not wearing the hijab in accordance with government standards and whose death sparked a series of ongoing nationwide protests.
  3. Justice for Survivors Award, given to the Ukrainian human rights group Truth Hounds for their work uncovering war crimes committed over the course of the Russian invasion.
  4. Justice for Journalist Award, given to the Syrian Center for Media and Freedom of Expression for their advocacy for free speech, freedom of the press, and other human rights in Syria.

First awarded in 2022, Albie Award recipients include Justice Albie Sachs, Filipino journalist Maria Ressa, the humanitarian NGO iACT, Belarusian human rights group Viasna, and Kenyan doctor and women’s right advocate Dr Josephine Kulea.

The award ceremony will take place later this September at the New York Public Library. TLHR said that it is honoured to receive the award and thanked its lawyers, partner organisations, and volunteers for “working together to protect human rights, justice, and rule of law that has been under threat in Thailand since the 2014 military coup.”

“We would like to share this encouragement and hope with our fellow citizens who have been fighting together to restore democracy and rebuild the rule of law so that it is once again strong,” TLHR said.

Formed in the days after the May 2014 military coup, when the military was summoning and arresting dissenters and trying civilians in military courts, TLHR has provided pro bono legal representation for activists and members of the public prosecuted for political expression and charged under laws which violated basic civil and political rights, including the Computer Crimes Act, the Public Assembly Act, the royal defamation law, and the sedition law.

They have also documented and monitored human rights violation in the country after the coup. Their reports are published on their website and social media accounts as news articles, reports, legal opinions, and public statements to raise public awareness about these violations.

Since 2007, Prachatai English has been covering underreported issues in Thailand, especially about democratization and human rights, despite the risk and pressure from the law and the authorities. However, with only 2 full-time reporters and increasing annual operating costs, keeping our work going is a challenge. Your support will ensure we stay a professional media source and be able to expand our team to meet the challenges and deliver timely and in-depth reporting.

• Simple steps to support Prachatai English

1. Bank transfer to account “โครงการหนังสือพิมพ์อินเทอร์เน็ต ประชาไท” or “Prachatai Online Newspaper” 091-0-21689-4, Krungthai Bank

2. Or, Transfer money via Paypal, to e-mail address: [email protected], please leave a comment on the transaction as “For Prachatai English”