Thailand: immediately drop sedition case and all proceedings against human rights lawyer Sirikan Charoensiri
The government should drop all proceedings against human rights lawyer, Sirikan Charoensiri, including the specious accusation of sedition, which apparently relate to her organization’s representation of 14 student activists peacefully protesting in June 2015, the ICJ and other groups said today.
On 27 September 2016, Sirikan Charoensiri (photo), a lawyer and documentation specialist at Thai Lawyers for Human Rights (TLHR), received a summons from the Thai Police following accusations that she violated Article 12 of the Head of National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) Order 3/2015, prohibiting the gathering of five or more people for political purposes, and Article 116 of the Thai Criminal Code, a ‘sedition’-type offence.
According to the summons, the accusations are made by an army officer, Lieutenant Colonel Pongsarit Pawangkanan.
Sirikan Charoensiri received the summons, dated 20 September 2016, when she returned to Thailand after attending the 33rd Session of the Human Rights Council in Geneva where she conducted advocacy on the human rights situation in Thailand on behalf of FORUM-ASIA and the ICJ.
Sirikan Charoensiri did not receive an earlier summons, dated 14 September 2016, the police claimed had been sent to her apartment, as she was not home at the time.
Sirikan Charoensiri has already been charged with two offences under the Criminal Code of Thailand: “giving false information regarding a criminal offence” and “refusing to comply with the order of an official” in relation to TLHR’s provision of legal aid to 14 student activists – the new summons appears to relate to the same case.
“The army’s accusation that Sirikan Charoensiri has violated the frequently abused sedition law with its extremely serious penalties and risk of a military trial is indefensible and must be withdrawn immediately,” said Wilder Tayler, Secretary General of the ICJ.
“The fact that the authorities have made these accusations more than one year after TLHR’s clients were charged with sedition in the same case suggest the accusations have been made in retaliation for her high-profile national and international human rights advocacy since the military coup,” he added.
The other groups who signed the statement are: Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development (FORUM-ASIA), the Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders (an FIDH–OMCT partnership), Protection International (PI), Lawyers’ Rights Watch Canada (LRWC), Fortify Rights, and the International Service for Human Rights (ISHR).
thailand-sirikan-charoensiri-conviction-news-press-releases-2016-eng (full text in PDF)
thailand-sirikan-charoensiri-conviction-news-press-releases-2016-tha (Thai version, in PDF)