NEWS RELEASE: UN Human Rights Office hails decision by Thailand to drop cases against three leading human rights defenders
BANGKOK (7 March 2017) – The UN Human Rights Office for South-East Asia welcomes the decision by the Thai military to withdraw all charges against three prominent human rights defenders who documented allegations of torture.
The Director of the Cross-Cultural Foundation, Pornpen Khongkachonkiet, Anchana Heemmina, founder of the Duay Jai Group, and Somchai Homla-or, a well known senior human rights lawyer, were facing criminal charges over publication of a 2016 report that recounted allegations of torture by security forces in the southern border provinces.
“Our Office has been following these cases closely for a number of months, advocating with the authorities, including Internal Security Operation Command Region 4, to withdraw complaints,” said Laurent Meillan, acting regional representative of the UN Human Rights Office.
“Today’s developments are very positive, and we encourage the Government of Thailand to take additional steps to strengthen measures to protect activists carrying out human rights reporting and monitoring,” said Meillan. He urged authorities to drop similar charges against other human rights defenders, including cases filed against prominent human rights lawyer Sirikan Charoensiri.
“Our Office supports today’s plans to establish mechanisms whereby the military, activists and other concerned stakeholders will come together to review and investigate allegations of human rights violations in the south,” he added. “We stand ready to provide technical advice in this process.”
The UN Human Rights Committee, which monitors implementation by States of one of the main international human rights treaties, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, will review Thailand in Geneva on 13-14 March.