Friday, December 06, 2019

Police pursue case against citizen journalist

Jan 07. 2018
File photo: Jamon Sonpednarin // Photo from: Aey Siriphorn‘a Facebook
File photo: Jamon Sonpednarin // Photo from: Aey Siriphorn‘a Facebook
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By Pratch Rujivanarom
The Nation

3,816 Viewed

Police are continuing their prosecution of Thai PBS citizen journalist Jamon Sonpednarin, as a lawyer revealed his case will be handed to the attorney on Monday and human-rights organisations urged authorities to drop the complaint against him immediately.

The defendant’s lawyer, Sor Rattanamanee Polkla, said on Saturday that police would conclude their case against Jamon and submit it to the attorney to decide whether to pursue it in court – despite two other defendants in the same case being found innocent by the court.

Jamon allegedly trespassed into the old Thung Kham Company copper and gold open-pit mine in Loei’s Wang Saphung district alongside two other local activists, Surapun Rujichaiyavat and Pornthip Hongchai,  as part of their peaceful campaign urging the mine closure and environmental restoration. 

A court acquitted the case against the other two activists on November 25, 2016. Jamon said that he had neither been contacted about the complaint against him nor received any police summons until he was arrested at the border crossing in Kanchanaburi on November 29, 2017.

Sor Rattanamanee said lawyers would submit a petition to the attorney noting the previous court judgement that Thung Kham has no rightful ownership on the mine area since its land-use allowance has expired.

She said she hoped that, after receiving this information, the attorneys would understand the true nature of the case and not take it to court.

The Fortify Rights and Community Resource Centre Foundation (CRC) groups have released a statement demanding the authorities drop the complaint against Jamon and urging the government to ensure freedom of expression and press freedom. The statement noted that, just eight days before Jamon was arrested, the government had announced human rights as part of its national agenda.

The statement also highlighted that the rights to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly are protected under Articles 19 and 21 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), to which Thailand is a state party. Therefore, it noted, arrest and detention in this case were unlawful.

“Fortify Rights and CRC call on the Thai government to drop all unwarranted complaints and charges against journalists, human rights defenders and other critics,” the statement read.

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