Thai lawyers slam intimidation of rights groups under martial law

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Photograph: Wikipedia

The Thai Lawyers for Human Rights has call for an end to martial law in Thailand and insists that no one should be subjected to arrest and detention via the invocation of martial law.

Photograph: Wikipedia
Photograph: Wikipedia

The Thai Lawyers for Human Rights (TLHR), in collaboration with Cross Cultural Foundation (CrCF) and Amnesty International Thailand, was planning to organise a presentation of report on the human rights situation “Access to Justice in Thailand: Currently Unavailable Human Rights Situation 100 Days after the Coup” on 2 September 2014.

But on 1 September 2014, TLHR and other organising organisations were contacted and asked by Thailand’s military officials to cancel the event as they claimed the situation was still abnormal.

We were told as well that if we persisted in organising the event, we would face charges of violating the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) Announcement no. 7/2557, which prohibits any political assembly of five people upwards. The TLHR wants to make our stand clear regarding the behaviour of the Thai authorities as follows:

  •  The presentation of the report on the situation of human rights “Access to Justice in Thailand: Currently Unavailable Human Rights Situation 100 Days after the Coup” is an attempt to shed light on obstacles to access to justice in the aftermath of the coup in Thailand. It is not a political gathering. The TLHR has been established to receive complaints and provide legal aid to detainees, and we are simply performing our duties as lawyers and human rights activists. Given that martial law is still being imposed and it provides draconian power to officials, an effort to monitor the situation and disseminate information to society is therefore indispensable.
  • The right to freedom of expression is a fundamental human right enshrined in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) to which Thailand is a state party and is obliged to observe. After all, NCPO has been telling the press that it respects human rights principles. Also, Section 4 of the 2014 Interim Constitution written by NCPO itself provides for protection of human dignity, rights, liberty and equality of all the people of Thailand in accordance with the Constitutional practice in the democratic regime of government with the King as head of state. Any existing international obligations should therefore be respected as per the Constitution. Any attempt to prevent a public event on human rights from happening is a gross violation of such rights and liberties.
  •  Apart from being a direct intimidation to lawyers and rights activists, the attempt by the military authorities – to “ask for cooperation” in cancelling or postponing the event and the reiteration that if the organisers decided to press ahead with the event, they would face prosecution for violating the NCPO announcement banning any political gathering – will also perpetuate a climate of fear in society and lead to further infringements of human rights and the reduce the chance the affected families shall be accorded justice and remedies. Such a consequence seems contradictory to the image the NCPO has tried to project by claiming that it has been performing their duties with due respect to human rights. It also highlights the grave human rights situation as of now.
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The Thai Lawyers for Human Rights (TLHR) condemns the intimidation by security officials, and as an advocate of legal and human rights, we shall persist to uphold our duty as lawyers to protect the people’s rights and liberties.

We shall make an effort to present the report on human rights situation to mark 100 days after the coup via other channels in order to ensure that voices of the people and their families whose human rights have been abused shall continue to be heard and that they shall be bestowed with truth and justice as well as to uphold people’s rights and liberties in general.

The TLHR would also insist on proposing the following recommendations as mentioned in our current report on the situation of human rights, that:

  • Martial Law which is being imposed countrywide should be revoked.
  • No persons shall be subjected to apprehension, arrest and detention invoking martial law.
  • Any restriction to curb the right to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly should be lifted.
  • No civilians should be tried in the military court.
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