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Amnesty International demands released of detained human rights lawyer

Amnesty International Thailand and the Network for People's Amnesty today (5 February) submitted a petition signed by 7,301 people calling for the release of detained human rights lawyer Anon Nampa and for charges against him to be dropped. They also called for the repeal or amendments of laws violating people’s rights to freedom of expression.

Representatives of Amnesty International Thailand and the Network for People's Amnesty marched this morning from the Ministry of Education to Government House. (Photo from Amnesty International)

Today (5 February 2024), Amnesty International Thailand and the People’s Amnesty Network handed 7,301 names of persons who support its Urgent Action and its demands to Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin and Pol Col Thawee Sodsong, Minister of Justice, as a global campaign has been launched for people to sign up the petition letter demanding the release of Human Rights Defender Anon Nampha immediately and unconditionally. All charges and all rulings against him have to be quashed. The demand to quash the charges and sentencing applies to all members of the public including children who have been prosecuted merely for exercising their right to freedom of expression. The letter was received by officials from the Government House led by Somkid Chuekhong, Deputy Secretary to the Prime Minister on Political Affairs. 

Piyanut Kotsan, Director of Amnesty International Thailand, said that the handing of names of members of the public, AI members and activists from around the world to the Thai government to demand the release and withdrawal of all charges against HRD Anon Nampha and other activists is a part of a global Urgent Action launched by Amnesty International based in Longdon, UK. The organization urges the Thai authorities to act in compliance with its international obligations which require that the Thai government must protect human rights of all people including their rights to freedom of expression, association and peaceful assembly and to repeal or amend laws that restrict human rights. The campaign was first started on the past 2 February.

“In the past four years, activists and people who have exercised their rights to freedom of expression, association and peaceful assembly have been charged. This reflects how the exercise of human rights in one own country can lead to a miserable situation as many of them have been arrested, intimidated, followed or separated from their loved ones. At present, more than 1,938 of them have to face such prosecutions including at least 286 children. This is a evitable testament to the failure to adhere to the obligations of the Thai government as far as international human rights laws are concerned. The laws require that the Thai government must respect, protect and promote human rights of all people to ensure they can exercise their rights to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly.”

In her message to Thailand’s judiciary authorities and the Thai government, the Amnesty International Thailand’s Director reiterates that the right to bail or provisional release is a human right and a fundamental right afforded by everyone. This is in line with a legal principle of presumption of innocence whereby ‘every person accused of any crime is considered innocent until proven guilty”. In addition, Piyanut invokes the declaration the Thai government has made to international community that Thailand shall compete in an election of members of the UN Human Rights Council (HRC) for the 2025-2027 term and how it has pledged to promote human rights in its own country. Should Thailand want to become a member of the HRC, it needs to respect, protect and promote human rights in its own country as being pledged.

“On 27 February 2023, the Thai government has made a statement at the meeting of the UN Human Rights Council that it intends to compete in the election of the HRC members for the 2025-2027 term and also reiterated that it would act according to the pledges given to international community to promote human rights in its own country. Such declaration may, however, run counter to the incumbent situation of human rights in Thailand. Should the Thai government want to become a member of HRC in 2024, it has to get prepared to adhere to its duties and responsibilities. As a UN HRC member, it shall be receiving scrutiny from international community as to how it respects, protects and promotes human rights and repeals or amends the laws that restrict human rights of persons who exercise their freedom of expression and peaceful assembly. It should also recognize the right to bail as a human right as well.”

            Therefore, Amnesty International has these following demands for the Thai government;

            1. Immediately and unconditionally release Human Rights Defender Anon Nampha and quash any ruling or legal proceeding against him and other persons who have been prosecuted simply for exercising their human rights; 

2. Pending the court ruling, Anon Nampha and other activists should afford the right to bail and provisional release and such bail conditions shall not arbitrarily prevent them from exercising their rights peacefully;

3. Amend or repeal laws that have been weaponized to restrict the right to freedom of expression and freedom of peaceful assembly to ensure Thailand act in compliance with its international human rights obligations.

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