Thailand-blog Pre-session: L4L asks attention for position of Thai lawyers
1 April 2016

Thailand-blog Pre-session: L4L asks attention for position of Thai lawyers

Thailand

By Karin Monster

On Wednesday, March 30th, Thailand’s human rights situation is being discussed in Geneva, during the pre-sessions in preparation for the upcoming “Universal Periodic Review” (UPR). L4L is participating in the pre-sessions and is drawing attention to Thailand’s compliance with its (inter)national human rights commitments to guarantee the right to independent counsel as set out, amongst others, in the UN Basic Principles on the Role of Lawyers.

Milena Latuputty, who is representing L4L during the pre-sessions, has been working with partner organizations in Thailand to improve the troublesome position of Thai lawyers for several years. Based on L4L’s partnership with these organizations and individuals, Milena is drawing attention to the fact that Thai lawyers are being subjected to threats, intimidation and improper interference by public authorities on a regular basis.

L4L is focusing on, amongst others, the impunity of crimes against Thai human rights lawyers. This may best be illustrated by the case of Somchai Neelapaijit, a Thai lawyer who disappeared on March 12, 2004, after he had publicly accused the police of torturing his clients, who were in detention. There have been strong suspicions against five police officers for their involvement in the disappearance of Somchai, but only one officer has been sentenced. This officer was later acquitted by the Appeals Court in 2011, as were the other four police officers.

A second matter of concern raised by L4L is the limited freedom of expression of Thai lawyers, which partly stems from recent Thai legislation that explicitly grants expanded powers to military personnel to act as police investigators or inquiry officers under criminal procedure code. For example, human rights defender Anon Nampa has been accused based on the ‘Computer Crimes Act’, which was adopted in 2007. Anon Nampa was arrested along with three anti-coup activists while they were organizing a human rights event in February 2015. In response, Anon posted several massages on Facebook in which he criticized the military regime. Subsequently, he has been accused for “importing into a computer false information which may damage national security”.

Milena explains that L4L informs several country delegations on these issues during Thailand’s pre-session. These country delegations have raised matters of concern related to L4L’s objectives during previous UPR’s . Milena also joins forces with other NGOs with similar objectives as those of L4L. According to Milena, “all activities ultimately serve the purpose of getting the (improvement of the) position of Thai lawyers on the agenda of the Thai government.”

Next time, learn about the course of events during the UPR pre- sessions in Geneva and L4L’s lobby activities concerning the situation of lawyers in Thailand.

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