Released on 24 Feb 2017
Three human rights defenders urged Attorney General to drop the charges
Affirming human rights violation reporting is for public interest
On Friday 24 Feb 2017 at 13.00 the three human rights activists, Somchai Homla-or, Pornpen Khongkachonkiet, and Anchana Heemmina submitted the petition letter to Attorney General urged to drop the charges at Government Complex Building A, Changwattana. We demanded the public prosecutor to ensure justice and uphold human rights. We further demanded that in performing their duties with regard to prosecution, the public prosecutor should make their decision on the merit of the case and the public interest.
On Tuesday 21 Feb 2017, the three HRD demanded that the Pattani prosecutor should make their decision to instruct the inquiry official to examine the evidence and interrogate the witnesses as proposed by the accused. In addition, attention should be given to the fact and legal principle that the Penal Code provides for defamation offence intends to protect dignity of individuals from impairment, while it does not intend to protect a legal entity. The Internal Security Operations Command (ISOC) which is merely a legal entity not a natural person does not have legal standing to take legal action against the three activists. Further, ISOC is a state agency and it’s execution of duties may effect to the rights and liberties of the people, therefore, ISOC shall be subject to scrutinizing and criticism by the people. Therefore, ISOC is not eligible to accuse the three activists of defamation. The next meeting with the Pattani Prosecutor is scheduled to be 21 Mar 2017 in Pattani
Previously, the Yala Provincial Prosecutor issued a non-prosecution order on 17 June 2015 to Ms. Pornpen Khongkachonkiet, Director of the Cross Cultural Foundation (CrCF) and the CrCF on the criminal defamation case. The case was alleged by the 41st Infantry Regiment in Yala. The Prosecutor has found the alleged offenders simply had the intent to urge superior officers of the plaintiff and concerned agencies to investigate the incidence that had happened with one torture victim (withholding name). Her criticism was viewed by the police and the state prosecutor as “an ordinary comment on the performance of an agency with public duties without any intent to breach the law. In addition, the defamation case was filed by an organization, not as an individual, but no authorization had clearly been made. Thus, the person who had filed the case was not an injured party and had no legal standing to do so”.
Therefore, when an in-charge agency has received the complaint and has carried out the inquiry promptly and impartially and if evidence could be found to whatsoever effect, it would ensure that the right of people shall be protected. It will help to increase trust among people toward the justice process.
“But if the complaining could land a complainant or witness in a legal wrangle, it would have compromised trust in the justice process. The case that had been filed as defamation and violation of computer crime act against three human rights defenders reflects how there is a lack of independent mechanisms to review complaints concerning human rights violation and the unfair enforcement of special laws in the Deep South. It has also inflicted fear among people making them feel less inclined toward exercising their rights, the predicament of which is detrimental to peace process in the region” Mr. Surapong Kongchantuk, Chairperson of CrCR said
More detail contact. Mr. Surapong Kongchantuk, Chairperson of CrCR Tel. 081-6424006
Ms. Nadthasiri Bergman, Legal Officer at Tel. 0851208077
Since 2007, CrCF has been working to promote justice and legal protection in Thailand’s Deep South to provide legal assistance to victims and those affected by the acts of torture and inhumane treatment. Legal approach has been adopted to harbor mutual understanding among general public, people affected by the enforcement of special laws and operating officers and assistance has been given to establish the truths, to demand civil and criminal liability from concerned officers and agencies should there be facts ascertaining their involvement with the commission of such offences, i.e., in the cases of Imam Yapha Kaseng and Mr. Ashaari Isamaae, the two suspects who had been clearly tortured to death while being held in official custody.
As to the complaint that an act of inhumane torture and ill-treatment has been inflicted against torture survivors, after CrCF had received the information, it has issued a letter urging the concerned authorities to investigate the case. The open letter was distributed in public to raise the awareness on human rights principles and laws to combat torture. In the past seven years, CrCF has been receiving good cooperation from agencies under the Internal Security Operations Command (ISOC) and the Royal Thai Police which have been encouraged to change their approaches and treatment and to develop custodial rules and regulations. After all, leeway exists, and the acts of torture continue to be perpetuated.
CrCF has been working based on human rights and legal principles to enable the victims to have access to justice. The complaint to the authority has been made according to the publicly available legal procedure. It simply intended for urging the directly concerned authorities to investigate the incidence that had happened with torture survivors and for the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) to help investigate the information in the case and to establish if the offence had actually been made as claimed. There was no intent whatsoever to inflict damage to the reputation of the state agency. In addition, Thailand is obliged by the Convention Against Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CAT) to carry out a prompt inquiry into an alleged case of torture and to protect the complainant and the witness ensuring that they are free from violent retaliation and intimidation as a result of their lodging the complaint or their giving supporting evidence.