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Rights lawyer Prawet charged with lese majeste

May 03. 2017
Prawet Prapanukul
Prawet Prapanukul
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By Pratch Rujivanarom
The Nation

Human rights lawyer Prawet Prapanukul and five other persons whose whereabouts were unknown since their arrest five days ago, have been charged with lese majeste and were due to appear before the Criminal Court yesterday.

Anon Nampa, from the Thai Lawyers for Human Rights, said Prawet had “disappeared” since his arrest last Saturday. He said authorities had just informed him that that Prawet and five other people were being held at Military Circle 11 in Bangkok until yesterday. 

“The officers told us that Prawet and other five persons are charged with defamation of the monarchy and they were being transferred to the Criminal Court for further legal action,” Anon said.

He said that officers have not disclosed any details of the case or information on the five other people in custody.

Prawet, a 57-year-old leading human rights lawyer, was arrested by military officers and police during a raid on his home on April 29 and he could not be reached until yesterday. 

Officers also reportedly confiscated his computer, hard drives, flash drives, mobile telephones, CDs containing political programs, and various political T-shirts.

Earlier yesterday, Brad Adams, the Asia director at Human Rights Watch, said in a statement that the Thai junta should urgently disclose Prawet’s whereabouts and release him if he has not been charged with a credible offence.

“Secretly detaining rights lawyers, critics of the monarchy, and other dissidents has created a climate of fear in Thailand that is generating international outrage,” Adams said.

Human Rights Commissioner Angkana Neelapaijit also condemned the action and revealed that she was coordinating with the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) to find where authorities were holding Prawet and to check on his well-being.

“This action by the authorities is the violation of the human rights principle. Moreover, it is violating the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance [ICPPED], of which Thailand is a signatory,” Angkana said.

“Even though Prawet will be released later, this action can still be considered as a forced disappearance and illegal, because the officers arrested him [and took him] to an unknown place without notifying his family.”

She said the government has the power to arrest anyone who committed illegal actions or harmed national stability, but in all circumstances forced disappearance was prohibited under the UN’s ICPPED.

According to Human Rights Watch, Prawet is an active human rights defender, who provided legal assistance to members of the United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship or the red shirts in the cases related to the political turmoil in 2010. He was also a lawyer for Daranee Charnchoengsilpakul, who was convicted of committing lese majeste.

 

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