Press Release — HRF to Thailand: Free Activist Imprisoned for Facebook Post
Human Rights Foundation (HRF) condemns the arrest of Thai activist Jatupat Boonpattararaksa. Jatupat was arrested on December 3, 2016, and charged with violating Thai Penal Code Article 112, also known as the royal defamation or lèse majesté provision. The arrest marks the first lèse majesté prosecution since Thai King Vajiralongkorn ascended to the throne. King Vajiralongkorn has only been in power for twelve weeks, and the junta-controlled government is again targeting activists with the abusive lèse majesté law. It is appalling that all it took to justify putting Jatupat in jail was a single Facebook post where he merely shared a news item,” said HRF president Thor Halvorssen. “The junta must stop using the lèse majesté law to limit freedom of speech in Thailand,” Halvorssen concluded. Jatupat was arrested for sharing a BBC profile of King Vajiralongkorn on his personal Facebook page. The BBC article detailed the disturbing past of the new king and raised doubts about his fitness to rule. Although Jatupat was released on bail on December 4, he was again sent to jail following a request to revoke bail filed by the Thai police. If Jatupat is found guilty, he will spend up to 15 years in prison. Article 112 of the Thai Penal Code punishes anyone who “defames, insults or threatens the King, the Queen, the Heir-apparent or the Regent.” Each charge carries a sentence of three to 15 years imprisonment. Prior to the ascension of King Vajiralongkorn and the death of his father, King Bhumibol, the ruling military junta frequently used Article 112 to suppress criticism of the government. “Criminal defamation charges are rarely used in democracies by public officials to reprimand criticism. But in authoritarian regimes, it is a popular method used to punish those who dare to speak out against the government,” said Javier El-Hage, chief legal officer at HRF. “Lèse majesté is an extreme form of criminal defamation, especially as applied in Thailand, where any form of critical speech – even reposting an article online – can have severe consequences. The Thai junta, and now evidently the police under the new Thai King, has abused lèse majesté to protect their own reputation and interests. These prosecutions are in violation of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which Thailand ratified in 1996,” added El-Hage. Human Rights Foundation (HRF) is a nonpartisan nonprofit organization that promotes and protects human rights globally, with a focus on closed societies. Contact: Prachi Vidwans, (212) 246-8486, email@example.com. TAKE ACTION. Urge the Thai government to release Jatupat Boonpattararaksa and drop the lèse majesté prosecution against him immediately. CONTACT the Thai Prime Minister, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, the Commissioner General of the Royal Thai Police, the Deputy Attorney General, and the Khon Kaen Provincial Court:
- General Prayut Chan-ocha, Prime Minister. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- The Honorable Don Pramudwinai, Minister of Foreign Affairs. Email:email@example.com
- Pol. Gen. Chakthip Chaijinda, Commissioner General of the Royal Thai Police. Fax: (662) 2053 738.
- Pol. Sub. Lt. Pongniwat Yuthaphunboripahn, Deputy Attorney General. Email:firstname.lastname@example.org
- Khon Kaen Provincial Court. Email: email@example.com Please let us know if you took action. CC your communication to: firstname.lastname@example.org.