Press release CCC
Press Release 17 November 2011
Clean Clothes Campaign launches major appeal to free Human rights defender, labour activist and magazine editor Somyot Prueksakasemsuk – live reporting from his trial
Starting from 21 November, Somyot Prueksakasemsuk, well known editor and long time labour rights activist, will stand trial on two charges of lèse majesté. He faces up to 30 years’ imprisonment and has been denied bail four times.
Somyot was arrested on 30 April 2011 and charged with the lèse majesté law (Section 112) of the Thai Criminal Code on two counts. The law states that “whoever defames, insults or threatens the King, the Queen, the Heir-apparent or the Regent, shall be punished with imprisonment of three to fifteen years”. His arrest came only five days after he launched a nation-wide signature campaign calling for a parliamentary review of the lese majeste laws.
Somyot’s trial shines a spotlight on the abuse of the lese majeste laws – there has been an estimated 1000% increase in cases since 2006 with almost all cases ending in a guilty sentence for those charged. The consequences for Somyot and for freedom of expression in Thailand are so serious that the European Union are also sending trial observers to the potentially flawed proceedings.
Clean Clothes Campaign along with a global alliance of Somyot supporters, unionists and freedom of expression activists are launching live reporting from the trial which will be held in different prisons throughout Thailand. A stream of live blogging, legal analysis, interviews, photos and videos will emerge from a small team of freelance reporters and activists who will be attending the trial hearings.
Regular exclusive feeds on vimeo (http://vimeo.com/cleanclothescamp) and twitter (http://twitter.com/cleanclothes) will be released on 21 November and the successive court hearings. Updates will be posted on CCC facebook and our website www.cleanclothes.org. For more information check here at the Freesomyot campaign webpage: https://freesomyot.wordpress.com/.
The Clean Clothes Campaign has launched a letter writing appeal calling on the government to release Somyot on bail and has also issued a public letter to the Prime Minister. The letter was signed by representatives of 8 global and regional organisations including the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH), Article 19 and the South-east Asia Press Alliance. The full text of the letter can be found here.
The hearing dates for the Prosecutor’s witnesses will be held on 21 November, 19 December, 16 January 2012, and 13 February 2012 in various provinces while the dates for the Defendant’s witnesses will be during April and May 2012.
If Somyot remains in prison and is denied bail once again he will have been imprisoned for over a year by the time the trial finishes. A verdict may not be pronounced for several months making his detention even longer. The continued denial of bail is in violation of the right to bail in Thai law as well as the UN International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. Seventeen countries raised their concerns regarding lèse majesté laws and freedom of expression during the review of the human rights situation in Thailand in the UN Universal Periodic Review in Geneva on 7 October 2011 while on 10 October 2011, the UN Special Rapporteur on the right to freedom of opinion and expression, Frank La Rue, urged Thailand to urgently amend the lèse majesté laws.
For interviews and more information contact
CCC Contact person: Ineke Zeldenrust – Dutch, English and French
Clean Clothes Campaign International Secretariat
Office: + 31 20 4122785
Mobile: + 31 6 51280210
Live reporting team contact person : Ayla Amber (ms) – Thai and English
Thai HP number: + 66 85 293 8236