NEWS - As freedom of expression is becoming more and more repressed in Thailand, human rights activists, andamongst them the head of Amnesty International Thailand, are now being targeted for having issued a report on the use of torture by officials against the population.
Freedom of expression is becoming steadily endangered
The coup d’état in 2014, which has enabled the military to gain power in the country, has led the Thai government to become more and more severe and to take restrictive measures against all dissident voices in the country. As a result, the civil society has become targeted for every complaints they might publicly express. The authorities heavily rely on the “lese-majesty” crime to entice the population to silence. Richard Bennett, director of the Asia-Pacific program in Amnesty International, criticized this use by claiming that “suppressing all debate areas and jail pacific critics by using the repressive law related to the crime of lese-majesty won’t in any way help the national reconciliation promised by the authorities”.
In March 2015, a man had been condemned to 25 years of prison for lese-majesty, as he had published on his Facebook five messages that had been judged derogatory against the king of Thailand.
In 2015, Reporters Without Borders ranked Thailand at the 134 place on 180 on its freedom of press. General Prayut Chan-O-Cha, also Prime Minister and head of the National Council for Peace and Order, had already informed in April 2015 of his intention to shut down all media which would issue negative comments towards him and/or the authorities: “I’ll only shut them down when they’ll write negative things. To this point, I never kept any articles from being published, but please, do write positive things”.
The use of torture denounced by human rights activists
As repression against freedom of expression mainly targets the Thai population, international organizations and human rights activists persist on raising awareness of the multiple abuses of human rights perpetrated by the authorities.
Somchai Homla-or, Anchana Heemmina and Pornpen Khongkachonkiet, recently appointed head of Amnesty International Thailand, are all being pursued for having investigated potential human rights violations and having issued a report on the use of torture by the Thai government on its own population: 54 cases of torture and overall cruel treatments from police or army officials in the South of the country, in which the situation remains tense, have been described at lengths.
This pursuit is occurring despite the fact that Thailand has signed in December 2015 a United States resolution protecting human rights activists from repression and pursuits. All three risk up to five years imprisonment as well as fines if they’re proved guilty.
Unfortunately, repression against freedom of expression seems to be a growing trend in Thailand. In the last three months, and as a project for a new Constitution must be submitted to referendum in August 2016, up to 100 people have been prosecuted for having expressed their opposition towards it.
Léa Guinet, coordinator at CIPADH
Amnesty International press release, "La Présidente d'Amnesty International Thailande et deux autres militants risquent la prison pour avoir dénoncé des actes de torture", 26 july 2016. Available at: https://www.amnesty.org/fr/latest/news/2016/07/drop-complaint-against-ai-thailand-chair/
Amnesty International press release, "Thailande: la répression de la liberté d'expression crée une spirale du silence", 9 december 2014. Available at: https://www.amnesty.org/fr/press-releases/2014/12/thailand-free-speech-crackdown-creating-spiral-silence/
Célia Garcia-Montero, "La liberté d'expression bâillonée en Thailande", La Croix, 3rd April 2015. Available at: http://www.la-croix.com/Actualite/Monde/La-liberte-d-expression-baillonnee-en-Thailande-2015-04-03-1298805