Five Years On, International Organisations Renew Call for Release of Somyot Phrueksakasemsuk

On the eve of the five-year anniversary of his detention, Civil Rights Defenders joins 15 international organisations in calling on the Thai authorities to immediately and unconditionally release human rights defender Somyot Phrueksakasemsuk.

Somyot, 54, is currently incarcerated in Bangkok’s Remand Prison, where he is serving a 10-year sentence following his conviction in January 2013 on charges of lèse-majesté under Article 112 of Thailand’s Criminal Code. Somyot was arrested on 30 April 2011, five days after he launched a petition campaign to collect 10,000 signatures required for a parliamentary review of Article 112. He was convicted for allowing the publication of two satirical articles in the now-defunct magazine Voice of Taksin, of which he was the editor. The articles were authored by someone else and deemed by the Thai authorities to have insulted King Bhumibol Adulyadej.

Today’s call echoes those issued by several UN human rights monitoring bodies over Somyot’s deprivation of liberty. In an opinion issued on 30 August 2012, the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention (WGAD) affirmed that Somyot’s detention was arbitrary. The WGAD called on Thai authorities to release Somyot and award him compensation. On 23 September 2014, the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) voiced its disappointment over the Court of Appeal’s ruling that upheld Somyot’s conviction. On 11 August 2015, OHCHR urged Thailand to amend the “vague and broad” lèse-majesté law to bring it in line with international human rights standards. OHCHR also called for the immediate release of all those who had been jailed for the exercise of their right to freedom of expression.

Read the statement in full: Five years on, international organisations renew their call for the release of Somyot Phrueksakasemsuk.