Public Statement by the Thai Lawyers for Human Rights
Thanapol Eawsakul Facing Second Arrest
Social Online Posting Claimed as a Breach of His Terms of Release
For immediate release on 6 July 2014
Previously, Mr. Thanapol Eawsakul was summoned to report himself as per the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO)’s announcement no. 5/ 2557 and was released on 30 May 2014. In order to be discharged from the military custody, he had to sign a contract annexed to the NCPO Announcement no. 39/2557. Recently, a military official who declined to give his name and position called and made an appointment with Mr. Eawsakul on 5 July 2014 at a public place and Mr. Eawsakul willingly cooperated.
But it turned that at the rendezvous, a car was waiting and Mr. Eawsakul was shoved into it and was brought to a military facility. There was no indication whatsoever that the vehicle belonged to the government. In addition, the persons who apprehended Mr. Eawsakul failed to identify themselves as competent officials who had the power to arrest him invoking Martial Law. Around 18.30 the same day, Mr. Eawsakul was brought to the Crime Suppression Division without being pressed with any charges. Reportedly, the deprivation of his liberty was attributed to his postings in social online which were cited as a breach to the terms of his previous release.
The Thai Lawyers for Human Rights would like to offer our opinions regarding the incidence and other similar incidences as follows;
- According to the terms of release annexed to the NCPO Announcement no. 39/2557 for the persons summoned and no. 40/2557 for the persons held in custody invoking Martial Law, the released persons have to identify their residence, are barred from leaving the country without permission, and barred from participating in any political activity or meeting. Such terms put restriction in the rights and liberties of people regarding their right to their privacy, mobility, and freedom of expression, all of which are enshrined in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) to which Thailand is a state party and is obliged to observe. Any restriction on such rights and liberties could only be done as utmost necessary and unavoidably as well as proportionately. No prohibition or restriction can be put universally on any rights and liberties. In addition, safeguards against such restrictions must be put in place.
Nevertheless, the terms annexed to the Announcement place universal restrictions to curb people’s rights and liberties and no appeal with supporting reasons can be made to have the restrictions lifted. The restrictions are not time-bound and if the persons held in custody refuse to sign them off, they shall not be released. Therefore, such terms are far from being voluntary.
- The arrest and detention of persons invoking Martial Law as such have been conducted with no transparency and credible due process of law. It is therefore prone to infringe on rights and liberties disproportionately, particularly given that the arresting officials declined to identify themselves including their positions. Such an act simply make the person at arrest feel insecure and unsafe of their lives as they are unsure if the persons who are making the arrest against them are state officials or thugs.
- The restriction invoking Martial Law to curb the right to freedom of expression via social online media, even though the opinions posted do not prove to be inciting violence or public disorder and that the person is consequently subjected to the arrest and detention must be considered a disproportionate, arbitrary and unnecessary act which has violated people’s freedom.
- The invoking of Martial Law to fix the terms of release including to completely prohibit the persons released from expressing their political opinions and the use of personal discretion to re-arrest the person and hold him in custody for seven days as in this case, is apparently tantamount to being a blanket derogation of personal rights and liberties. It is an exercise of draconian power to disproportionately restrict or limit the use of personal rights and liberties. Therefore, the authorities in charge and their legal divisions must urgently review the terms and the use of restrictions invoking Martial Law.
In particularly, due attention must be given to the restriction of rights and liberties including by holding a person in custody, summoning, monitoring, contacting, visiting, meeting a person and other terms and conditions put forth in order to compromise the right to freedom of expression of an individual. It is simply an exercise of draconian power without any safeguards and review and as a result it can easily lead to the use of power arbitrarily and unlawfully. Even though Martial Law is invoked, but the righteousness of any act by the official is still subjected to the principle of proportionality, transparency, due process of law and judicial review.
Given the reasons above, the Thai Lawyers for Human Rights urges the NCPO to immediately and unconditionally release Mr. Thanapol Eawsakul and would like to reiterate our recommendations made after the first month of the seizure of power by the military as follows;
- Revoke the imposition of Martial Law and rescind any Notifications issued invoking Martial Law countrywide since the necessities that require the invocation of Martial Law no longer exist and replace it with normal justice process.
- Stop the detention invoking Martial Law and stop the prosecution against peaceful demonstrators who have expressed themselves or made criticisms faithfully and revoke any order to ban public assembly
- Stop the summonses and arbitrary detention
- Stop trying a civilian in military court by invoking the Notification regarding the jurisdiction of military court over certain criminal offences.
With respect to rights and freedom
Thai Lawyers for Human Rights