Front Line Defenders Update
Update: Thailand: – Request to have hearing of Somyot Prueksakasemsuk held in Bangkok rejected by the court
On 26 January 2012, Front Line Defenders was informed that the request of human rights defender Mr Somyot Prueksakasemsuk, to have the next session of the court hearing against him heard in Bangkok was rejected by the court.
Somyot Prueksaksemsuk is a prominent labour activist and a magazine editor who is facing a maximum jail term of 30 years on lèse majesté charges. He was the subject of a joint appeal issued by Front Line Defenders and seven other international human rights NGOs on 15 November 2011. Somyot Prueksakasemsuk has been in detention since 30 April 2011. Requests made by his lawyer for his release on bail have been rejected by the court on six occasions.
Following the court’s rejection of his recent request, Somyot Prueksakasemsuk will have to travel to Songkla Province, located 950 kilometres from Bangkok (13 hours by bus), for the fourth and last session of the hearing involving Prosecution witnesses which is due to take place on 13 February 2012.
Front Line Defenders is disturbed that Somyot Prueksaksemsuk has had to travel to the provinces of Sa Kaeo, Petchabun, and Nakorn Sawan in a crowded truck to attend previous hearings which were held on 21 November 2011, 19 December 2011, and 16 January 2012 respectively. During these journeys, Somyot Prueksakasemsuk’s ankles were chained and he did not have access to rest room facilities. Furthermore, it is reported that he was ill when he was transferred from Petchabun province to Nakorn Sawan Province.
Front Line Defenders calls on the Thai authorities to reverse its decision and to allow the hearing to be held in Bangkok, as well as to take measures to guarantee the physical and psychological integrity of Somyot Prueksakasemsuk. Front Line Defenders also reiterates its previous calls to the Thai authorities to immediately drop all charges against him or grant him the right to bail in accordance with fair trial standards under domestic and international law.
Front Line Defenders – The International Foundation for the
Protection of Human Rights Defenders
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