Thailand: End proceedings against lawyer Sirikan “June” Charoensiri

Addressing the UN Human Rights Council, the ICJ today urged Thailand to end criminal proceedings against lawyer Sirikan “June” Charoensiri, that are based on her professional activities as a human rights defender and lawyer.

The statement came during general debate at the Human Rights Council on, among other things, the report compiling cases of individual complaints that have been raised by the Special Procedures (independent experts) appointed by the Council. The statement read as follows:

“Among the many cases covered by the Communications Report of Special Procedures (A/HRC/36/25) is that of Thailand lawyer and human rights defender, Sirikan “June” Charoensiri. She was charged with sedition and other offences for actions taken, in her professional role, to protect human rights. With other lawyers, she had observed and provided legal assistance to participants in a peaceful protest.

In April, four Special Rapporteurs sent a joint communication (AL THA 2/2017) to Thailand about her case, and the related issues of restrictions on fundamental freedoms put in place following the military coup of May 2014, and prosecution of civilians in military courts.

Thailand’s response to the communication (No.52101/483) attempts to justify the charges against her by, among other things, appearing to associate her with the persons to which she and her colleagues were providing legal aid.

Principle 18 of the UN Basic Principles on the Role of Lawyers states that, “lawyers shall not be identified with their clients or their clients’ causes as a result of discharging their functions.”

The International Commission of Jurists considers that the case against Ms Charoensiri is incompatible with these and other international human rights standards. The ICJ calls upon Thailand ensure the legal proceedings against Ms Charoensiri are ended, and that measures are taken to end and prevent similar cases against other human rights defenders in the country.”

Exercising its right of reply to the statement, the delegation of Thailand, while appearing to accept that Ms Charoensiri is a human rights defender and lawyer, asserted that she had not been charged in her capacity as a lawyer or human rights defender, but due to the possibility that she was a principal or co-perpetrator of an offence, which the delegation said was based on unspecified information from the Royal Thai Police. The delegation affirmed that the Thai government attaches high priority to the protection of human rights defenders, and referred to several initiatives the delegation said were currently being prepared in this regard.

More detail from ICJ about the case is available by clicking here.

Details of the Special Procedures’ action on the case is available in the database of communications, by clicking here.

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