Thai authorities have exercised an overreach of power with the incarceration of Anon Nampa, said ARTICLE 19. The Thai government must cease its judicial persecution and release him immediately.
“Anon Nampa’s imprisonment is not only an attack on his personal rights but also a significant setback for human rights in Thailand. His dedication to legal reform and advocacy for democratic freedoms should be lauded, not penalized,” said David Diaz-Jogeix, ARTICLE 19’s Senior Director of Programmes. “We call on the Thai authorities to recognize his contributions and respect his fundamental rights as a lawyer and a human rights defender.”
Anon Nampa is a distinguished lawyer and pro-democracy activist in Thailand. He is currently serving a four-year prison sentence and an additional two-month sentence (source in Thai), both imposed for his participation in peaceful demonstrations in October and November 2020. He faces further charges that could lead to decades of imprisonment, signaling a severe threat to freedom of expression and assembly in Thailand.
Anon Nampa’s commitment to human rights and justice has been pivotal in advocating for marginalized voices in Thailand. His legal expertise and active involvement in pro-democracy movements have earned him respect both nationally and internationally.
This case underlines the concerns raised by ARTICLE 19 in its submission to Thailand’s last Universal Periodic Review (UPR) in November 2021. During the UPR, ARTICLE 19 highlighted Thailand’s use of repressive laws to stifle free speech, restrict the right to protest, and control discourse in digital spaces. The UPR recommendations urge Thailand to align its laws with global standards, protecting the right to peaceful assembly and ceasing the prosecution of peaceful protesters. However, Thailand’s harsh response to protests, including the prosecution of over 1,900 individuals, some being minors, reflects a stark violation of these standards.
Despite international calls to reform or review Section 112 of the Criminal Code, which severely penalizes insults to the monarchy, Thailand has not shown intent to heed these recommendations. The broad application of this law has led to the prosecution of individuals, particularly those involved in the protest movement. Also, recommendations for decriminalizing defamation and protecting against strategic lawsuit against public participation (SLAPPs) have not been effectively addressed by Thailand. The existing laws are often used against journalists and human rights defenders, contradicting international freedom of expression norms.
Thailand’s response to the peaceful protests of 2020 and 2021, including the incarceration of Anon Nampa, starkly contrasts with the above-mentioned recommendations. Thailand’s problematic approach to the right to protest, the misuse of lèse-majesté provisions, a broader pattern of criminalizing dissent, and imprisonment for participating in peaceful protests, have clearly shown that the criminal proceedings against Anon Nampa are unwarranted and inconsistent with international human rights standards.
“The situation in Thailand highlights the urgent need to protect freedom of expression and assembly,” said Diaz-Jogeix. “ARTICLE 19 calls on the Thai government to accept each UPR recommendation regarding the rights to freedom of expression, access to information, peaceful assembly, and digital rights. We also encourage immediate and effective implementation of these recommendations in full consultation with Thai civil society.”
ARTICLE 19 appeals for:
- The immediate and unconditional release of Anon Nampa, ensuring his right to a fair trial is upheld.
- Recognition and protection of Anon Nampa’s rights as a lawyer, enabling him to perform his professional duties with dignity and without undue constraints.
- Prompt initiation of legal reforms to safeguard freedom of expression and peaceful assembly in Thailand, revising or repealing any laws that unjustly limit these fundamental rights.