[JURIST] Human rights groups on Tuesday urged the Thai Army to drop defamation charges against three activists, including the Chair of Amnesty International Thailand, Pornpen Khongkachonkiet, and Anchana Heemmina, founder of Duay Jai Group [advocacy website], and Somchai Homlaor, a human rights lawyer. The activists are being held and face up to seven years in jail for publishing a report which detailed the experiences of 54 former detainees on their treatment by soldiers and the torture they endured. Officials have denied the allegations in the report and have stated that they will not withdraw charges [AFP report].
Human rights groups worldwide have expressed growing concern over violations in Thailand since the military junta came to power in May 2014. In December Thailand’s parliament passed [JURIST report] a controversial cyber-crimes bill that gave the government the right to obtain user data without court approval. In September Thailand’s Bangkok South Criminal Court found [JURIST report] British labor rights activist Andy Hall guilty of criminal defamation and violating cyber crime laws. About a week earlier the same month Thailand’s military government announced [JURIST report] that it will prosecute cases concerning national security and “royal insult” in civilian courts, as opposed to military courts where the cases have been tried since 2014. In August Thailand passed a new constitution [JURIST report] by referendum vote, drafted by a military-appointed counsel and feared to be another step in entrenching military control of the nation.