‘Rule of law more than ever under pressure’
Award-winner Sirikan Charoensiri calls for nominations:
“Awareness of the importance of defending human rights, the rule of law and democracy has increased significantly among lawyers, legal practitioners and law students in Thailand since I received the Lawyers for Lawyers (‘L4L’) Award”. Thus, spoke Thai lawyer Sirikan Charoensiri (‘June’), who won the prestigious award in 2017. We spoke to her on the eve of the nominations for the L4L 2019 Award.
“Attention for the work of human rights lawyers in Thailand has increased remarkably as well, which extends recognition to my lawyer colleagues who also defend human rights”, she continued.
Lawyers worldwide are able to nominate colleagues for the L4L Award 2019 until 1 March 11:59 CET. June emphasizes how important it is to recognize colleagues who are doing their work under difficult circumstances. “At a time when the rule of law, human rights and democracy are being challenged more than ever, lawyers must not only take cases in the courts, but defend these principles and protect legal integrity in order to safeguard the rights of all people. Any lawyer who deserves a nomination, should demonstrate unwavering commitment towards the cause of justice”.
You were the first woman to receive the L4L Award. In 2018 you were also one of the ten women from all over the world who were awarded the International Women of Courage Award in Washington. How important is it that women in particular receive recognition for their work?
“In the struggle for justice and equality, all who contribute to these goals should be recognized equally. Nevertheless, awarding women reaffirms the fact that the international community recognizes their devotion and important roles. Such visibility and recognition effectively inspire other women. Drawing attention to their courageous work is as important as promoting dignity and equality for all”.
Since the military seized power in Thailand in 2014, June has, in her own words, seen the collapse of the rule of law.
Even though there are several onerous charges pending against you, which could eventually result in fifteen years imprisonment,you are nevertheless optimistic about the future in your country?
“I see people of the next generation getting more interested in the political situation. New faces have become active in the movement for freedom of expression. Many are starting to see the problems of an unchecked and undemocratic regime and the negative impact of not upholding democracy and human rights. For example, my organisation, Thai Lawyers for Human Rights (TLHR), has trained law graduates and we have been able to strengthen the network of senior and junior volunteer lawyers who work with us to provide legal aid to those charged and prosecuted under the regime. I truly that that human rights and the rule of law in Thailand can be restored and consolidated through the beginning of public awareness and knowledge of the importance of democracy”.
Last but certainly not least: How do you personally cope with the stress of your activities?
“Sharing the stories and the struggle with society and others does not just raise awareness and empower others. It also empowers me to not give up and helps overcome the tension. I release my stress and break the wall of silence at the same time.”
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