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Press briefing notes on Thailand

Spokesperson for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights:  Ravina Shamdasani
Location: Geneva 
Date: 18 December 2020
                    
We are deeply troubled by the move by Thai authorities to charge at least 35 protesters in recent weeks, including a 16-year old student protester, under Article 112 – the lèse majesté provision of Thailand’s criminal code. The offence carries sentences of between three and 15 years’ imprisonment for defaming, insulting or threatening the country’s royal family. We are particularly alarmed that the 16-year-old protester was yesterday presented by police to the Juvenile Court with a request for a detention order. The Court denied the detention order and granted conditional bail.

A number of UN human rights mechanisms, including the UN Human Rights Committee, which oversees implementation of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), have repeatedly called on Thailand to bring this law in line with the country’s international obligations. It is extremely disappointing that after a period of two years without any cases, we are suddenly witnessing a large number of cases, and – shockingly – now also against a minor.

We also remain concerned that other serious criminal charges are being filed against protesters engaged in peaceful protests in recent months, including charges of sedition and offences under the Computer Crime Act. Again, such charges have been filed against a minor, among others. 

We call on the Government of Thailand to stop the repeated use of such serious criminal charges against individuals for exercising their rights to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly. People should be able to exercise these rights without fear of reprisals. The UN Human Rights Committee has found that detention of individuals solely for exercising the right to freedom of expression or other human rights constitutes arbitrary arrest or detention.**

We also urge the Government to amend the lèse majesté law and bring it into line with Article 19 of the ICCPR on the right to freedom of expression.*

ENDS

* Link to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights

** Link to UN Human Rights Committee General Comment 35

For more information and media requests, please contact: Rupert Colville - + 41 22 917 9767 / rcolville@ohchr.orgor Ravina Shamdasani - + 41 22 917 9169 / rshamdasani@ohchr.orgor Liz Throssell- + 41 22 917 9296 / ethrossell@ohchr.org or Marta Hurtado - + 41 22 917 9466 / mhurtado@ohchr.org

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