Press Release: Stop the arbitrary detention of Mr. Wattana Muangsuk

Stop the arbitrary detention of Mr. Wattana Muangsuk

It has been reported today (2 March 2016) that a dozen of military officers arrested the former Minister of Social Development and Human Security, Mr. Wattana Muangsuk, and took him away from his residence without stating the reason for the deprivation of his liberty, without disclosing the place of detention, and without producing any warrant. Subsequently, the Deputy Prime Minister, Mr. Prawit Wongsuwan and the Spokesperson of the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO), Colonel Winthai Suvaree, reportedly revealed to the press that Mr. Wattana Muangsuk has been deprived of liberty due to his expressing critical views toward the operation of the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) and that he would be subjected to detention for at least three to seven days in order to make him stop expressing his political views.

The Thai Lawyers for Human Rights (TLHR) deems that even though the Head of the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO)’s Order No. 3/2015 allows an appointed military officer as the Peace and Order Maintenance Officers to exercise their discretion to hold in custody a person who is suspicious of committing certain offences specified in the Order for not more than seven days, but the reason of detention of Mr. Wattana apparently originated from his exercise of freedom of expression to criticise the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) which is not a crime or a wrongful act as specified in certain offences under the Order No. 3/2015 or other Announcements of the NCPO. In addition, the arrest and detention of Mr. Wattana were executed without court warrants, without disclosing the place of detention, and without access to his relatives. This has deprived Mr.Wattana of the guarantees for his rights and freedoms during the seven-day detention. Therefore, the detention is arbitrary and violates Article 9 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) to which Thailand is a state party and is obliged to act in compliance with its obligations.

The TLHR, therefore, calls on the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) to stop such an arbitrary detention invoking the Head of the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO)’s Order No. 3/2015 and to immediately release Mr. Wattana Muangsuk.

Thai Lawyers for Human Rights (TLHR)

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