The Observatory has been informed about the judicial harassment of Ms. Sitanan Satsaksit, a human rights activist who has been seeking truth and justice for the enforced disappearance of her brother, pro-democracy activist Wanchalearm Satsaksit. On June 4, 2020, Mr. Satsaksit was abducted by a group of unidentified men in front of a condominium in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, where he resided after fleeing Thailand following the 2014 military coup. The Cambodian authorities have failed to conduct a prompt, thorough and impartial investigation into Mr. Wanchalearm’s enforced disappearance, while the Thai authorities have failed to fully support his family in seeking justice for the activist. Mr. Wanchalearm’s fate and whereabouts remain unknown to date.
On October 25, 2021, the Thai police submitted a criminal referral to the Office of the Attorney General in Bangkok requesting the prosecution of Sitanan Satsaksit for allegedly violating the Emergency Decree on Public Administration in Emergency Situations (Emergency Decree). The charges are related to Sitanan Satsaksit’s participation in a protest in central Bangkok on September 5, 2021, during which Ms. Sitanan gave a speech about her brother’s enforced disappearance. On the same day, the prosecutor postponed the decision on Sitanan Satsaksit’s indictment to November 1, 2021.
The Observatory recalls that the Emergency Decree provides the legal basis for a series of restrictive measures aimed at controlling the spread of COVID-19, including the prohibition of public assemblies as well as the dissemination of online information that is “false” or capable of instigating fear among the public (Article 9). Moreover, violations of measures under the Emergency Decree carry penalties of up to two years of imprisonment or a fine of up to 40,000 Baht (approximately 1,025 Euros). The Observatory further recalls that the Emergency Decree has been used to arrest dozens of pro-democracy activists for participating in peaceful protests calling for the reform of the Thai monarchy.
The Observatory condemns the judicial harassment of Sitanan Satsaksit,which seems to be only aimed at punishing her for her legitimate human rights activities and the exercise of their rights to freedom of expression and of peaceful assembly.
The Observatory calls on the Thai authorities to immediately and unconditionally put an end to the harassment against Sitanan Satsaksitand all other human rights defenders in the country, and to guarantee in all circumstances the rights to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly in the country.
How You Can Help
Please write to the authorities of Thailand asking them to:
i. Guarantee in all circumstances the physical integrity and psychological well-being of Sitanan Satsaksitand all human rights defenders in Thailand, and ensure in all circumstances that they are able to carry out their legitimate activities without any hindrance and fear of reprisals;
ii. Put an end to all acts of harassment, including at the judicial level, against Sitanan Satsaksit, and all other human rights defenders in the country;
iii. Guarantee, in all circumstances, the rights to freedom of expression and of peaceful assembly, as enshrined in international human right law, particularly in Articles 19 and 21 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights;
iv. Refrain from using the Emergency Decree to target human rights defenders and pro-democracy activists and repeal all provisions of the Emergency Decree used to repress fundamental rights and freedoms.
· Mr. Prayuth Chan-ocha, Prime Minister of Thailand, Email: email@example.com. Twitter: @prayutofficial
· Mr. Don Pramudwinai, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Thailand, Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
· Mr. Somsak Thepsutin, Minister of Justice of Thailand, Email: email@example.com
· General Narongpan Jitkaewthae, Commander in Chief of the Army, Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
· Pol Gen Suwat Jangyodsuk, Commissioner-General of the Police, Email: email@example.com
· Ms. Pornprapai Ganjanarinte, National Human Rights Commissioner of Thailand, Email: firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com
· H.E. Mr. Sek Wannamethee, Ambassador, Permanent Mission of Thailand to the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland, Email: thaimission.GVA@mfa.mail.go.th
· Embassy of Thailand in Brussels, Belgium, Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Please also write to the diplomatic representations of Thailand in your respective countries.