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Thailand: Update – Verdict in case of human rights defender Mr Somyot Prueksakasemsuk to be announced on 23 January 2013
The verdict in the case of human rights defender and labour rights activist Mr Somyot Prueksakasemsuk is scheduled to be announced by Ratchadapisek Criminal Court on 23 January 2013 at 9am. The human rights defender has been in detention since 30 April 2011 and is charged with contravening Section 112 of the Criminal Code, which forbids defaming, insulting or threatening the royal family, commonly known as the lèse majesté law.
Somyot Prueksakasemsuk works as a human rights defender in the area of labour and freedom of association rights in Thailand and is editor of Voice of the Oppressed (Voice of Taksin).
He was arrested on 30 April 2011 at Aranyaprathet district, Sa Kaeo Province, five days after holding a press conference in Bangkok launching a campaign to collect 10,000 signatures to petition for a parliamentary review of Section 112 of the Criminal Code, which the human rights defender claims contradicts democratic and human rights principles. According to a document produced by the Public Prosecutor, Somyot Prueksakasemsuk is alleged to have allowed two articles that made negative references to the monarchy to be published in his magazine.
The human rights defender is facing a maximum of 30 years' imprisonment if found guilty of the above mentioned charge. All 11 bail applications submitted by his lawyer thus far have been rejected.
In advance of the announcement of the verdict, Front Line Defenders reiterates its call on the Thai authorities to drop all charges against Somyot Prueksakasemsuk, as it believes these are solely motivated by his legitimate and peaceful work as a labour and human rights defender in Thailand. We further reiterate our concern regarding due process irregularities throughout the trial of Somyot Prueksakasemsuk, particularly the refusal of bail, which is in direct contravention of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Thailand is a party.