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THAILAND: Court to read verdict in case against human rights defenders , 10 July 2013

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
AHRC-STM-127-2013
July 10, 2013

A Statement from the Asian Human Rights Commission

THAILAND: Court to read verdict in case against human rights defenders

On Thursday, July 11, 2013, the verdict in the case of three human rights defenders — JittraKotchadej, BoonrodPaiwong, and SoonthornBoonyord — will be read at the Criminal Court on Ratchadaphisek Road in Bangkok. The charges against the human rights defenders stems from peaceful protests they held calling on the government to take action to protect labor and human rights in 2011. If convicted, they could be sentenced to a maximum prison term of five years and/or a fine of up to 10,000 baht. The prosecution of JittraKotchadej, BoonrodPaiwong and SoonthornBoonyord indicates a grave threat to the rights of citizens to take action to protect human rights and livelihood in Thailand. The Asian Human Rights Commission calls on all those in Bangkok interested in the protection of human rights to attend the reading of the verdict as observers and for all others to closely follow developments in this case.

Background:

On August 27, 2009, JittraKotchadej, BoonrodPaiwong, and SoonthornBoonyord were part of peaceful protests requesting the government’s aid in the case of the dismissal of 2,000 workers by Triumph International. With approximately 400 women workers from several labor unions, they protested in front of Parliament and Government House in Bangkok. Prior to the protests, they had submitted petitions to then-prime minister Abhisit Vejjajiva regarding the mass dismissal of workers and asking him to protect workers’ rights. They were protesting as they had not received a response from the prime minister.

In response to the protests, the police used a Long Range Acoustic Device (LRAD), which makes a very loud and painful noise, to attempt to disperse the protestors. Over a year after the protests, the public prosecutor charged JittraKotchadej, BoonrodPaiwong, and SoonthornBoonyord with violating Articles 215 and 216 of the Criminal Code in Black Case no. Or 620/2554. Article 215 of the Criminal Code states that “If the offender is leading an act , he/she shall be punished for the maximum of five years imprisonment or fined not exceeding ten thousand baht or both.”Article 216 of the Criminal Code states that “hen an official orders any person assembled under section 215 to disperse and such person does not disperse, he/she shall be imprisoned for the maximum of three years or fined for the maximum of six thousand baht or both.” This means that the three human rights defenders could be sentenced to a maximum prison term of five years and/or a fine of up to 10,000 baht.

This prosecution of JittraKotchadej, BoonrodPaiwong, and SoonthornBoonyord represents a significant threat to the rights of citizens to peacefully protest and defend human rights in Thailand.

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About AHRC: The Asian Human Rights Commission is a regional non-governmental organisation that monitors human rights in Asia, documents violations and advocates for justice and institutional reform to ensure the protection and promotion of these rights. The Hong Kong-based group was founded in 1984.

Read this Statement online

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