Judicial harassment of human rights defender Sirikan Charoensiri
On 2 February 2016, human rights defender Ms Sirikan Charoensiri received a summons ordering her to report to Chanasongkram Police Station in Bangkok on 9 February 2016. The human rights defender is accused of making a false police report and refusing to comply with an order of a competent official.
Sirikan Charoensiri is a human rights lawyer who works with Thai Lawyers for Human Rights (TLHR). She is one of the legal representatives of the 14 student activists from the New Democracy Movement (NDM) who were arrested on 26 June 2015 after staging peaceful protests to mark the first anniversary of the military coup, which took place in May 2014.
On 2 February 2016, Sirikan Charoensiri received a summons dated 29 January 2016 ordering her to appear at Chanasongkram Police Station for questioning in relation to charges brought against her by Mr Suriya Chamnongchok, an investigating officer in the case of the 14 NDM student activists. The human rights defender had been accused of objecting to a search of her car by police officers on the night of 27 June 2015, and filing a false police report accusing the police of malfeasance in office under Article 157 of the Thai Criminal Code.
On 27 June 2015, police officers searched the car of Sirikan Charoensiri after presenting her with a court order. During the search, the police seized mobile phones belonging to the 14 NDM student activists, which had been placed in the human rights lawyer’s car before the student activists were detained a day earlier. The search came after the human rights defender had tried to lodge a complaint at Samranrat Police Station against Mr Chayapol Chatchaidej, commander of the Sixth Division of Metropolitan Police Bureau, and his subordinates, who had confiscated her car without an official arrest warrant on 26 June 2015. On that date, police officers led by Chayapol Chatchaidej locked one of the wheels of her car where it was parked in front of the Bangkok Military Court, sealed its doors and surrounded it with a metal fence. The incident took place after the human rights defender had refused to allow the police to search her car without an official search warrant. Officers at Samranrat Police Station refused to accept the human rights defender’s complaint and threatened her with legal action in response.
Front Line Defenders condemns the judicial harassment of human rights defender Sirikan Charoensiri, which it believes to be directly linked to her peaceful and legitimate work as a human rights lawyer in Thailand.
Front Line Defenders urges the authorities in Thailand to:
1. Immediately cease all judicial harassment of Sirikan Charoensiri, as Front Line Defenders believes that the charges brought against the human rights defender are solely motivated by her legitimate and peaceful work in defence of human rights;
2. Guarantee in all circumstances that all human rights defenders in Thailand are able to carry out their legitimate human rights activities without fear of reprisals and free of all restrictions.