Letter to the Lawyers Council of Thailand on Disbarment Proceedings against Mr. Anon Nampha
Dear President of the Lawyers Council of Thailand,
Re: Disbarment Proceedings Against Mr. Anon Nampha
Lawyers for Lawyers is an independent and non-political foundation that seeks to promote the proper functioning of the rule of law by pursuing freedom and independence of the legal profession.
International Commission of Jurists (ICJ), a global non-governmental organization composed of 60 eminent judges and lawyers, works to advance understanding and respect for rule of law as well as the legal protection of human rights throughout the world.
We write to your office concerning the disbarment proceeding against Mr. Anon Nampha, a lawyer and human rights defender, that is taking place before the Investigative Committee that was established by the Committee on Professional Ethics of the Lawyers Council of Thailand during the Meeting No. 1/2564 on 13 January 2021. We are concerned that the proceeding unduly interferes in his work as lawyer, including in representation of clients, and serves to impair the exercise of his human rights, including the right to freedom of expression.
According to our information, we understand that the proceeding against lawyer Anon Nampha is related to a complaint motion filed to the Lawyers Council of Thailand on 7 August 2020 by Mr. Aphiwat Khanthong, Assistant Minister in the Office of the Prime Minister, claiming to be acting in his capacity as a private attorney at Or Amporn Na Takua Tung and Friends Law Office. Mr. Aphiwat Khanthong alleged that lawyer Anon Nampha’s behaviour violated the Lawyers Council of Thailand’s disciplinary rules as, he claims, it would “incite, intend to cause unrest, distort information and insult on the monarchy”. The alleged speech in question apparently called for reform of the monarchy, during a Harry Potter-themed protest at the Democracy Monument on Ratchadamnoen Avenue on 3 August 2020.
Under international law and standards, lawyers, like other individuals, enjoy the right to freedom of expression, belief, association and assembly. A lawyer should be able to draw the public’s attention to issues relating to public affairs in their official capacity as well as in their private capacity. Suspensions or revocations of lawyer licenses as a result of exercise of their legitimate rights and freedoms do not only impact on the exercise of the rights of the lawyers, but also on the rights of their clients to be represented by the lawyer of their choosing.
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