For immediate release on 29 June 2015

An open letter

An inquiry into the issuance of search warrant of attorney’s vehicle urged

(Attorney of the Thai Lawyers for Human Rights)

On 27 June 2015, inquiry officials from the Samranrat Police Station have applied for a search warrant of the vehicle with license plate no. Kor Khor 9966, Yasothorn, belonging to Ms. Sirikan Charoensiri, an attorney of the Thai Lawyers for Human Rights (TLHR) and one of the attorneys representing the fourteen student activists being indicted on charges relating to the violation of the Order of the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO)’s Head no. 3/2015 and Article 116 coupled with 83 of the Penal Code.

The Human Rights Lawyers Association (HRLA) deems that according to international standards and lawyer code of ethics, protection must be given to ensure an attorney is able to perform their duties independently. It is provided for, for example, according the Code of Conduct of Attorney B.E. 2529 (1986) of the Lawyers Council of Thailand, particularly in its Articles 11 and 12, it is prohibited for an attorney to reveal confidential information of their clients save for permission has been obtained from the client or by the order of the Court. It is also prohibited for an attorney to behave in such way that compromises the interest of their client. The provisions have been issued by virtue of Articles 27(3)(e) and 51 and with endorsement from the Board of Directors of the Lawyers Council of Thailand as per Article 28 of the Attorney Act BE 2528 (1985) and published in the Government Gazette. The provisions are thus applicable by law as per Article 28 of the Attorney Act BE 2528 (1985).

Therefore, it is pertinently essential that when an application is made by the inquiry officials for a search warrant, the officials have to provide information to the Court to indicate that a warrant is being requested for the search of a vehicle belonging to an attorney of the alleged offenders. As a result, the Court would review the information coupled with the search warrant application tendered by the inquiry official in light of the Act on Regulation of Judicial Officials of the Court of Justice regarding how to issue arrest and search warrants in a criminal suit B.E.2545 (2002)’s Article 18 which stipulates that “In case the arrest or search cannot be conducted since constitutional provisions or other legal provisions provide for immunity or privilege of a person or of a place, a compliance to such laws and regulations must be made.” And according to the Act, the performance of duties by attorney warrants immunity as per Article 18 of the Act on Regulation of Judicial Officials.

The Human Rights Lawyers Association (HRLA) deems it important that the inquiry official must provide information to the Court that the warrant sought is intended for a search of an attorney’s car since the information is highly relevant to how the judge would make their discretion whether to grant the search warrant as requested for or not. Without such information being given to the Court, the issuance of such warrant might become unlawful. Any evidence found during the search will become inadmissible in the Court. The supply of such information is essential for the Court to review that the exercise of power by the inquiry official falls within the boundary of the law and relevant regulations. This will also ensure an attorney can perform their duties independently without being subjected to intimidation from external power. It provides for fundamental safeguard of the rights to justice process and will help to uphold the exercise of the rights and freedom of people according to human rights principle and the rule of law.

With respect in rights and liberties of the people and human dignity

Human Rights Lawyers Association (HRLA)