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IndustriALL condemns conviction of Somyot in Thailand

24 January, 2013IndustriALL Global Union condemns the conviction of Somyot Prueksakasemsuk over ‘lese majeste’ offences under article 112 of the Criminal Code, with the 11 year jail sentence by a Thai Criminal Court on 23 January 2013.

In a scathing attack on human rights and freedom of speech, a Thai criminal court found Somyot Prueksakasemsuk a trade unionists, social activist and a journalist in Thailand, guilty of ‘lese majeste’ offences for publishing two articles critical of the monarchy, in his Voice of Takshin, the magazine he edited. He was sentenced to an 11 year jail term including five-year jail terms for each article and cancellation of suspension of 1 year jail sentence issued 3 years before.

Somyot was arrested in April 2011 and has undergone prolonged pre-trial detention as his bail plea was denied by the courts 12 times. He was presented in court on several occasions wearing shackles as if he were a dreaded criminal. Trade unionists, human rights and civil society activists across the world including European Union, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights and Amnesty International condemned the conviction and severe punishment of Somyot.

It is important to note that he was arrested 1 year after the publication of those 2 articles. More significantly after 5 days of launching a petition seeking review of Article 112, he was arrested under the same law. Article 112 of the Criminal Code, states that, “whoever, defames, insults or threatens the King, the Queen, the Heir-apparent or the Regent, shall be punished with imprisonment of 3 to 15 years.”

Human rights defenders in Thailand believe that the government has been using the ‘lese majeste’ law under article 112 to silence its critics and called for immediate suspension and revision of ‘lese majeste law’.

"IndustriALL joins the EU and UN High Commissioner for Human Rights and Amnesty International in protesting for Somyot’s release, based upon the United Nations Human Rights Charter on Freedom of Expression," said Jyrki Raina, General Secretary of IndustriALL.