Demanding an End to the Prosecution of Peaceful Protests at the Royal Embassy of Cambodia Calling for the Investigation of Wanchalearm’s Abduction Statement on Demanding an End to the Prosecution of Peaceful Protests at the Royal Embassy of Cambodia Calling for the Investigation of Wanchalearm’s Abduction
On June 11, 2020, summons were filed by the authorities at the Wangthonglang Metropolitan Police Station to Somyot Prueksakasemsuk and six other protestors and Nattawut Uppa and four other protestors from gathering an assembly “which may cause unrest” according to Section 9 of the Emergency Decree on Government Administration in States of Emergency B.E. 2548 (2005) (hereinafter “Emergency Decree,” “Decree”).
The June 8th gatherings were an act of peaceful demonstration and the lawful expression of opinions in response to the inactions of Thai and Cambodian governments in the disappearance on June 4, 2020 of Wancalearm Satsaksit – a political activist who fled to Phnom Penh after the NCPO coup d’état in 2014. The protests took rise from the evidence which supported that Wanchalearms was forcefully abducted and underwent enforced disappearance presumably due to his critical political stances against the junta government.
Despite the waves of demand by the mass, the media, including domestic and international human rights organizations such as the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (UNOHCHR) for an independent investigation, the Thai and Cambodian governments have yet to take any action in seeking the truth. As such, citizens, under the protection of the basic and inalienable human rights principles; of the constitution; of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR); of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR); which state the rights to freedom of opinion and the right to freedom of peaceful assembly, have legitimacy in protesting the two governments to promptly conduct an impartial investigation into the disappearance.
CrCF contends that the protests do not amount to an “assembly or gathering of persons…which may cause unrest,” prohibited by the Section 9 of the Emergency Decree; rather, they are legitimate and peaceful in nature, and concurrent with the principles of Human Rights Defenders. Therefore, the charges and summons filed can only be seen as an abuse of the power granted by the Decree to intimidate and deprive the rights of those who do not agree with the government. It is also a corrupt use of a power which does not serve the original purpose of containing the outbreak of COVID-19.
CrCF, a human rights organization under the National Human Rights Commission, have worked to advocate the promotion of the culture of human rights, access to justice, and reform for a just process based on human rights. It also monitors human rights violations in Thailand. CrCF places particular emphasis on the marginalized, victims of torture, enforced disappearance and cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment. As such, in this case, the foundation demands the Thai government to:
- Halt the ongoing prosecution of Somyot Prueksakasemsuk and others at once as it is in violation of the legitimate and inalienable rights to express one’s opinions in demanding justice;
- Stop using the Emergency Decree against any political opponents at its own end in safeguarding the grip on power. The use of the Decree should be under the objective of containing and protecting Thai citizens from COVID-19. The principles of equality before the law and the rule of law must also be respected;
- Amend the Emergency Decree in giving checking and balancing powers to the legislative and the judicial body. This is to create a more transparent and just implementation of the Decree to prevent the abused use of executive power;
- Coordinate with the Cambodian government to conduct an impartial investigation into Wanchalearm’s disappearance in order to shed light on the truth and bring justice and closure to Wanchalearm Satsaksit and his family’s suffering.
Released on June 15, 2020
Cross Cultural Foundation