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HE Ms Yingluck Shinawatra
Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Thailand
Pitsanulok Road, Dusit District
Bangkok 10300, Thailand
I am writing to you in connection with the continued detention of Somyot Prueksakasemsuk who is standing trial on charges of lèse majesté and who could face the maximum penalty of 30 years’ imprisonment. A longtime campaigner for labour rights and democracy, Somyot has been in jail since April 2011 on lèse majesté charges.. He is charged only with the “publication and dissemination” of two articles in the journal Voice of Thaksin, of which he was the acting editor but not the legal publisher. The charge sheet alleges that he thereby “dared to defame, insult, or threaten His Majesty King Bhumipol Adulyadej of the Kingdom of Thailand”. He is being held purely on remand. To date, the charges against him have not been proven and expert witnesses have testified that the articles do not refer to the King.
The Thai Constitution affords the right to a speedy and fair trial. We are concerned Somyot Prueksakasemsuk may not be accorded these basic rights. We believe the denial of bail is part of an ongoing pattern of harassment and intimidation of human rights defenders in Thailand. We ask the Thai judicial authorities to ensure that the rights of Somyot Prueksakasemsuk are upheld during his detention and that he is accorded his right to a fair trial, including the right to bail.
We respectfully remind you that the United Nations Declaration on the Right and Responsibility of Individuals, Groups and Organs of Society to Promote and Protect Universally Recognized Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, adopted by consensus by the UN General Assembly on 9 December 1998, recognises the legitimacy of the activities of human rights defenders, their right to freedom of association and calls on States to ensure that they can carry out their activities without fear of reprisals.
We ask you to ensure that
• Somyot Prueksakasemsuk is released. Failing his immediate and unconditional release, we ask that Somyot Prueksakasemsuk be granted his right to bail, in accordance with fair trial standards under domestic and international law;
• Human rights defenders in Thailand are able to carry out their legitimate human rights activities without fear of reprisals and free of all restrictions, including judicial harassment;