Wednesday, July 24, 2019

NGO to junta: Stop prosecuting people for peaceful assembly

Feb 06. 2018
"MBK 39" activists gather to call for an election, at the skywalk near the MBK shopping centre on on January 27.
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By The Nation

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The NGO Thai Lawyers for Human Rights (TLHR) on Tuesday called for an end to prosecutions against people involved in peaceful assemblies.

Protesters, the TLHR said, had recently been brought to face prosecution whether they had spoken for or against the ruling National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO).

Examples included the peaceful march by the People Go network that called for an end to the NCPO’s sweeping powers, and 39 activists known as the “MBK 39”, who held an assembly calling for the long-postponed election to be held.

Even participants in protests supporting Deputy Prime Minister and Defence Minister General Prawit Wongsuwan, who has been under pressure for his unusual possession of a luxury watch collection, were not exempt, the TLHR said.

The protesters all faced charges of allegedly breaking NCPO order no.3/2015 that prohibits all political gatherings of five or more people. The accused in the two latter cases are also accused of allegedly breaking the public assembly act that prohibits public gatherings within a 150-metre radius of royal palaces.

“These prosecutions were made because law enforcers considered that their gatherings were for political purposes,” the TLHR said in a statement

“This turns public assembly, which is a form of constitutionally and internationally endorsed freedom, into a kind of freedom that solely depends on law enforcers’ interpretation [of the law].”

Last March, the UN Human Rights Committee also urged Thailand to guarantee and protect freedom of peaceful assembly following the International Covenant on Civil and Political Right (ICCPR).

“We urge the Thai authorities to respect people who practice their civil and political rights, and agree that such rights are essential and practicable in a democratic regime,” it said.

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