Press Release Stop criminalizing political opponents by invoking Section 112 To uphold democratic atmosphere and promote free and fair elections
At present, most of the people being accused of committing an offense as per Section 112 of the Penal Code, or the lèse majesté law, are those campaigning against the government or those coming out to criticize the roles of the army and supporters of the United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship (UDD).
Lately, on 30 April 2011, the officials at the Aranyaprathet Immigration checkpoint in Sa Kaew province arrested Mr. Somyot Pruksakasemsuk, Executive Editor of “Voice of Taksin” on the same charge. He was then handed over to the Department of Special Investigation (DSI) for further proceeding. Prior to this, the Commander in Chief of the Royal Thai Army pressed the same charge against Mr. Chatuporn Phromphan, MP and a core leader of the Red Shirts and has made an act of threatening against Dr. Somsak Jiam-theerasakul, a lecturer of the Department of History, Faculty of Liberal Arts, Thammasat University.
It could be believed that such harassment has stemmed from their expressing their views regarding the roles and status of the Constitutional Monarchy.
During the political conflicts prior to and after the 2006 coup, the political opponents have resorted to various methods to serve their vested political interest. The consequence can be felt on the weakening of democracy and severe impediment of people’s rights and freedom, particularly the three basic freedoms including freedom of expression, association and peaceful assembly. Such political conflicts have culminated into a bloody clash in the first half of 2010 causing 92 deaths and thousands of injuries.
Political factions, particularly those constitutional and extra-constitutional powers that be, have accused their opponents of attempting to “topple the monarchy”. Legal actions and state apparatuses have been mobilized against their political enemies as the case which is being described. It has led to restrictions of the right to freedom of thinking and political belief which are non-derogable.
Apart from curbing the right to freedom of expression in the academic and media realms, the monarchy has been used as a political ploy to serve political interest. It prevents Thailand from adapting itself and developing genuinely the Constitutional Monarchy in order to make it fits the contemporary and changing society. Eventually, the impact shall be borne by the monarchy in a long run.
To uphold people’s rights and liberties as provided for by the Constitution and human rights principles and to protect the Constitutional Monarchy, the following demands and recommendations are being made;
1. All parties should come to their senses and refrain from using the monarchy to serve their political interest, even though they excuse themselves for doing so by claiming to protect to the institution. Criticisms or recommendations made as per members of the monarchy should be based on empirical information and shall be carried out in good faith without any intent to harbor hatred or violence, or without wanting to serve any political end.
2. Legal actions by the state and governmental agencies including the Royal Thai Police invoking Section 112 of the Penal Code should be carried out so with consent from the Bureau of the Royal Household. And it is important that the accused are notified in due advance to acknowledge the charge pressed against them as required by law and that they are given full access to the justice process as provided for by the Constitution. Any treatment of the accused should be done so without any discrimination, or with intent to abuse, threaten, or harass one’s political enemies.
3. The military commanders and high ranking officers should disengage themselves from any political and civilian affair. Any act that may have given rise to a climate of fear and compromise of people’s rights and liberties under the Constitutional Monarchy should be avoided such as the showdown of power to give moral support to their commanders. It is important that the military functions within strict supervision of the executive power.
4. May the Court please review requests for temporary release of the alleged offenders on Section 112 impartially and without discrimination in order to strictly uphold the rule of law and human rights principles.
5. The incumbent administration or the incoming one after the elections should consider reviewing the provision of Section 112 of the Penal Code in order to prevent any person from using it to serve his or her political purpose and to protect genuinely the Constitutional Monarchy. Last but not least, may all parties help to promote democratic climate while the country is going to have general elections and to ensure that the election process is free and fair.
For more information, please contact Cross-Cultural Foundation (CrCF) Tel. 02-6934939