The announcement by the Thai military that it will drop the criminal case against an Amnesty International chairperson and two other human rights activists who would have faced prosecution for reporting on torture is a step in the right direction, Amnesty International said today.
A Thai military body, the Internal Security Operations Command (ISOC), said it will withdraw a criminal complaint alleging criminal defamation and violations of the Computer Crimes Act against Pornpen Khonkachonkiet, Somchai Homla-or and Anchana Heemmina, who published a report on torture in Thailand’s southern provinces.
“We commend the military authorities for their decision to drop the case against these brave activists. We hope the authorities will follow this step in the right direction by immediately and unconditionally dropping complaints and charges against other peaceful human rights activists,” said Josef Benedict, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for Southeast Asia and the Pacific.
“This case is emblematic of how criminal defamation provisions and other repressive laws have been used to target activists peacefully exercising their rights in Thailand. To prevent further such injustices, the authorities should reform or repeal repressive laws and bring them into line with the country’s international obligations.”
In February 2016, Cross-Cultural Foundation and Duay Jai Group (Hearty Support Group) published a report documenting 54 cases of torture and other ill-treatment by the Royal Thai Police and Royal Thai Army in Thailand’s southern provinces.
On 17 May 2016, the Internal Security Operations Command Region 4, which is responsible for security operations in the area, filed a case against the three human rights defenders, who edited of the report.
In recent years, Thai authorities have targeted many activists, human rights defenders, journalists, and other members of Thailand’s civil society as part of a systematic crackdown on government critics.