AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL said today (Nov. 12) the Constitutional Court’s ruling that three activists used their rights and liberties with the aim of overthrowing democratic institution with the King as head of state and ordering them to halt such action has widespread impact and is a dangerous signal to freedom of expression, Sanook.com said.
Ms. Emerlynne Gil, Amnesty International’s deputy regional director for research, said although the ruling last Wednesday had not meted out penalties against the three activists, Ms. Panusaya Sitthichirawattanakul, or Rung, Mr. Anon Nampa and Mr. Panupong Jadnok, or Mike, it is a dangerous signal to tens of thousands of Thai citizens who express their opinions or criticise fairly public figures or institutions either directly or online.
This ruling can lead to serious charges against the trio and many others as offenses to overthrow the administration carry life imprisonment or the death penalty.
“If this ruling is intended to frighten the people and deter them from discussing these issues, the result will be the opposite as can be seen from the widespread use of hashtags, tweets and social media messages immediately after it was handed down.
“Over 200,000 Thai citizens have also signed a petition calling for the repeal of Section 112 in the Criminal Code, the lese majeste law.
“It is highly controversial that this ruling came on the same day that Thailand’s third round of human rights review (Universal Periodic Review) took place according to the agenda of the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva.
“In the previous rounds Thailand has rejected suggestions from countries at the UPR calling for an amendment to the Section 112 of the Criminal Code, and this is a signal to the international community that Thailand has no intention to take steps to make this law consistent with international human rights law especially in terms of protecting the right to freedom of expression.
“This ruling casts a dark shadow over Thailand that has begun opening its borders to international tourists. The intention of the Thai government in welcoming foreign tourists to vacation in the country but instead restricting and oppressing the rights of the Thai people is questionable,” she said.
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